How Pharmaceutical Companies Can Increase ROI from a Minimal Software Spend


We may not currently be in a recession at the moment in the UK, but a strange unease still lingers. The market continues to be risk-averse, few companies have the spare capital to invest in new software and those that do have severely constrained budgets. Head counts are reduced to a point where full-time employees are stretched beyond capacity and they don't have the spare time to take on extra projects.

Conventional wisdom in cautious times leads firms to delay expenditure on software projects as the belief is that they cost significant time, money and disruption, with returns appearing within three to five years. However, by proactively investing wisely in selective projects can cost relatively little - and produce dramatically positive results within a year.

So what are the benefits of investing in the right projects that could be a quick win for your business, saving employees considerable time and freeing them up to deal with their increased workload.

What is a Quick Win Project?

To qualify as a 'quick win' for your business, these projects would:

  • Require minimal investment in time and cost
  • Take between three to six months from start to finish
  • Provide immediate and significant returns
  • Increase team motivation
  • Have a low risk of failure

So why do businesses delay in investing in new software projects?

Let's take a look at the top five most common reasons below to delay, and why it's wise to invest now:

1: We already have all of the IT systems we need.

We continually meet businesses operating key processes on paper or Microsoft Excel. Often the most significant wins are found within processes that are overlooked. For example, how does your business introduce or launch new products? What does your approvals procedure entail? Is there a system you wish you could monitor more efficiently or closely? These are all golden opportunities to save your business time and money.

2: It will take my staff away from their day-to-day responsibilities.

Some involvement is inevitable, but much less than anticipated. With training budgets cut in most organisations, this could be an optimal personal development activity for your staff, motivating them to learn something new.

3: How can I justify the expense?

You should only proceed with projects that deliver a clear and immediate financial benefit, and give a significant increase in revenue or reduction in cost. Select a software application partner with considerable experience in preparing a compelling business case with real examples from similar-sized organisations to yours.

4: We already have an internal IT team, but they're fully committed and don't excel at these types of projects.

There are many companies whose core business is providing new software solutions. You need to ensure that you partner with a firm that has the expertise to help you choose the most appropriate solution for your needs.

5: Do IT projects always incur spiralling costs?

This should not be the case, and you need to ensure that projects are delivered at an agreed fixed price. Working with a like-minded partner with a proven track record, and an open, honest and transparent approach will help.

Example Case Studies

As an illustration of the benefits that can accrue from a minimal software investment, consider the following:

Case One

This FTSE 100 pharmaceutical company was preparing to launch a new oncology drug. They wanted to build a database of key opinion leaders in cancer treatment in the UK, well in advance of the product launch, so that their sales people could target the right people from day one. The existing CRM system wasn't able to capture the additional information that they wanted to record, being only intended for GPs and Hospital Doctors.

A simple to use web-based system was built and implemented in just two months at a cost of £15,000. The information held within this new system was used by the sales force to ensure key opinion leaders across the UK were met and briefed in record time, making the product launch the most successful oncology product launch in history.

Case Two

Another FTSE 100 pharmaceutical company was using an Excel-based process to measure the performance of their sales force and calculate payments due under their complicated bonus scheme. This process took two people six arduous weeks to complete, three times per year, and was extremely error prone.

Within three months and after an investment of £18,000, the new solution reduced the process to just 18 days per year, a saving of 162 days and approximately £67,500.


With new technology enabling more cost-effective results within quicker lead-times, software projects can be small, and incremental improvements that can be applied to one area of the business at a time. These projects are neither expensive nor disruptive to implement, but as the examples demonstrate, deliver significant results.

In a cautious and risk-averse market, partnering with a software development company for a new application solution must bring almost instant benefits that will ensure that a business saves both time and money.

By Daren Callow, Director, Verasseti