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Any large IPA (Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance) company is usually equivalent to the size of 10-15 mid- sized pharma companies put together, in India. Because of the size of the operation, their requirements on CRM are more complex and advanced as compared to SME companies in this industry.

So, what is so different in the way these large companies look at CRM?

Let us consider the following matrix of characteristics of a typical IPA company and the way these characteristics would translate to more complex CRM solution needs:

Company CharacteristicNon Specialty Team
Most of the IPA companies have atleast 10 SBUs or more with varied reporting needs.The solution should be flexible enough to take care of “primary care”, specialties and institutional sales – all with different needs.
Often have a large “commercial excellence” function doing data analysis and support to operations.These are power users, and are demanding, especially on analytics.
Complex implementation, transition and training –there can be as many as 1000 new users every year!Unlikely that a standard implementation and support team would suffice. Vendors have to offer tailored responses and have a defined plan to support their needs through all these stages.
“Change” would be the only “constant” in these companies.For a vendor, It is difficult to take a pure “product” approach in these companies. Change requests will be many. Solution should have the capability to handle changes.
Multiple layers in senior and middle management.Turn Around time for deliveries must be very short-senior management is often “impatient”. Vendors need to have the right teams who have domain knowledge.

In summary, the 5 Characteristics of these companies are

  • Large and varied LOB s
  • Pursuit of commercial excellence
  • Complex sales force with turnover
  • Changing requirements
  • Demanding top management

These 5 Characteristics impact many aspects of a CRM solution, thereby requiring a certain level of maturity, both in the partner company and its solution.

What does all this mean to a CRM vendor and its solution?

In one word, a “lot”!

The solution and the vendor will need to have 6 cardinal features and capabilities to address the 5 Characteristics

  1. Flexible architecture, especially in processes relating to everyday field activity planning and capture of actual activity.For example, in a “renal care” SBU, users may want to capture steps in brand adoption by the specialist.
  2. Strong domain focus in the solution. I would like to add here that, because of this, plain vanilla generic CRM s often fail in serving the needs of industry. For example, field activity may entail day long “activity” and hence a feature may be needed to exclude certain calls in computing call average.
  3. Ease of use This is an oft repeated phrase in IT solutions industry. For example, a user would want the solution to populate a certain doctor directly, based on MR’s location!
  4. Change requests are frequent. To handle these, you need a strong solution architecture that will not “crumble” when changes “mount”.
  5. Strong domain teams within the vendor organization.
  6. Strong Customer support- A fundamental change in the vendor’s mindset is required when it comes to this important mechanism. Vendor support teams have to realize that they are supporting the “customer” using the application and not the “application” itself! The moment a vendor looks at it this way, he/she will evaluate a “bug” from the perspective of the “impact” on a user, rather than “time to fix”. Normally, impact is inversely proportional to “time to fix”! .
  7. This mindset change is hugely relevant when it comes to supporting large companies. They would expect three kinds of support, at the very least:a) Normal “bug fix” supportb) Proactive preventive care. (measures to prevent disruption in work on the application)c) Usage profiler: This will give a profile of the way the application has been used by various users, thereby helping the company to continually train them better, so they can get more and more out of a CRM solution.


If all the cardinal capabilities mentioned above can be implemented by the vendor time to time, it can help a large Pharma company make the best use of its application and derive business benefits from it.

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