In this first instalment we talk about BrevisRefero’s innovative RFP management platform and why it was established. Let’ dig into a Question & Answer with BrevisRefero’s founder, Terry Cochrane. Can you explain what inspired you to establish BrevisRefero? The inspiration behind BrevisRefero’s RFP management platform was an acknowledgement that the BioPharma industry spends exorbitant time and resources on running Request for Proposal processes manually to identify candidate Service Providers. This realization was drawn from more than twenty years of my experience in the biologics development and manufacturing industry representing both Innovators and Service Providers.
Elaborate on the ‘exorbitant time and resources’ you mention while running a manual RFP process.
In my experience a manual RFP process can run between 3-9 months, depending on the Innovator’s circumstance. If a fully funded Innovator is entirely motivated to get to a shortlist decision quickly I would expect that a candidate list of Service Providers would be established within 3 months, however if the Innovator is working through funding or other obstacles in parallel to the RFP process then it could take an additional 3-6 months. The time wasters in establishing a manual RFP include 1) the creation of the RFP, 2) finding interested Service Providers to bid on the RFP, 3) the confidentiality process to bind the Service Providers before publishing the RFP, and 4) the normalization process where information from all proposals are rendered for a side-by-side comparison.
What do you mean by the term ‘shortlist’ and what is its significance both in the RFP process and also as it relates to BrevisRefero’s platform? When an RFP is published and there is the initial interest from a full set of Service Providers who will be submitting a proposal, this represents the ‘longlist’. After receiving all the proposals and working through the normalization process, the Innovator makes decisions on which Service Provider candidates should proceed onto the next round of discussion, or qualification. This represents the ‘shortlist’. The significance of the shortlist in the manual RFP process is that those Service Providers that end up on the shortlist then enter into discussions related to qualification and final contract award. Typically, this can involve between 2-3 Service Providers depending on the Innovator. With respect to BrevisRefero, which roughly translates in Latin to ‘shortlist’, the significance is that the combination of our RFP Smart Wizards, pre-set Statement of Work tables and auto-normalization tools, we can literally help an Innovator go from the need to run an RFP process to their shortlist of Service Providers in only weeks.
Come again, RFP Smart Wizards? What exactly are those? Yes, we have designed our RFP Smart Wizards to assist any Innovator company who is developing their Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls profile for the development and manufacturing of their product to be able to step through a set of questions and algorithms that when completed, translates into the technical component of the RFP which Service Providers require in order to bid on the project. Our wizards are capable of developing an RFP for any Innovator that is in clinical development or commercial manufacturing for both drug substance and drug product. With all that said, we have also designed our RFP Smart Wizards to elicit just the right amount of information for the Service Providers, without having to state highly confidential intellectual property that is important to the Innovator. So, at the end of the day, an Innovator at any stage of clinical/commercial need can establish an RFP that shares the right amount of information to enable the quotation process. With respect to confidentiality, how do you assure this for your members? Great question, since this is paramount to our industry and is something we take very seriously at BrevisRefero. There are two levels of confidentiality in our platform; 1) confidentiality as it relates to the Terms and Conditions of use of BrevisRefero’s platform, and 2) confidentiality between the Innovator and Service Providers. The Terms and Conditions of Use are stated directly on our website and are available for viewing at any time. With respect to confidentiality terms for the RFP process, these are set by the Innovator and are communicated to the Service Providers through an online process that allows for review, modification and ultimately online signing. Once the CDA is signed by the Service Provider, the Innovator is notified and provided the opportunity to approve viewing rights to the RFP. Once final signed, the signed CDAs then become available to each of the parties under their company profiles, and the Service Provider can then view the full RFP details.
Let’s talk about the proposal normalization process for a moment. Why is it so difficult to normalize information in the manual process compared to BrevisRefero’s platform?
Well it’s really quite simple. Very often in the manual RFP process, even if a set Statement of Work (SOW) template is provided, the proposal information often comes in with varying formats and with different assumptions that must be parsed and packaged in a way to enable a ‘like-for-like’ comparison between the proposals. However, in BrevisRefero’s platform, the SOW format is set by the Innovator using our suggested format based on their stage of development, and once set the proposal must address the pre-set activities list in order to submit a proposal. Additionally, our Expert Member Support staff engage with Service Providers as they are developing their proposals to ensure they are quoting the various activities into the correct SOW buckets, thus enabling auto-
normalization and a true comparison of all proposals received. This approach also enablesus to provide the Innovator company with a host of analytical tools to analyze the proposal information received in order to quickly and effectively decide on their shortlist candidates.
What type of BioPharma companies do you anticipate requiring this type of RFP management platform? I would say all sizes of companies can utilize our intuitive and easy to use platform. For smaller biotech companies, the platform enables them to run a very professional RFP process for a very reasonable cost in comparison to other Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems that are out there. For mid-to-large sized companies, our platform acts as an administrative tool in order to assist their outsourcing, procurement and logistics departments in sourcing Service Providers for their product development programs.
Finally, I understand that your RFP Management Platform received an award in 2019 from Global Health & Pharma. Can you tell us what lead to this award for the Most Innovative BioPharma RFP Management Technology Provider?
Well, our platform was nominated among other international candidates to enter into a rigorous review process for RFP managemaent systems. We had much dialogue with the folks at GHP during the review process, following which BrevisRefero’s RFP Management platform was bestowed this prestigious award. We are very honoured, especially since we only launched the platform in 2019 and have so much more to conquer in 2020! Thanks for tuning in and please check back for more blog updates focusing on outsourcing in the future.
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