To FSP or not to FSP….That is the Question!
Apologies to William Shakespeare.
In my 20 years in the Pharma / Bio industry, and in life in general, I have found that often times, its not what you say, its how you say it that matters most.
Outsourcing is no different, and with it comes with its own language of relative terms. Ultimately, you have business goals and not enough internal resources to get them across the finish line. So, what do you do?!
FSP? Outsource? Off-Shore? Insource? Pray?
While each of these options has pros and cons and ultimately, I lean towards the option that offers the most flexibility and helps the sponsor understand the best option/fit for their team.
For this article, let’s dive into the FSP model and discuss the benefits of this environment. The other modalities will be future topics of discussion.
Let’s start with the basics.
FSP is the acronym for Functional Service Provider. This model is focused on a specific function where a sponsor can benefit from a laser focus, optimal service, and maximized cost savings. The model initially was created to help sponsor companies align company to company relationships for longer term engagements and alleviate any issues with employee vs non-employee issues. The model is truly an extension of the current sponsor’s team and gives the flexibility of rapidly expanding and shrinking resources at the client.
Where I’ve seen some confusion arise is around the sponsor companies’ interpretation of the FSP model. Some sponsors see the resources as staff augmentation, or deliverable based, or onsite, or perhaps even offsite.
FSP is mainly different than a traditional CRO model because the resources are connected directly to the sponsor companies process, applications, SOP’s, and shared environment. All the resources from the service provider though the sponsor are all working in the same validated environment. Traditional CRO’s in a deliverable model receive data from the sponsor and take custody of the data in their environment and in turn create a deliverable that “goes back over the fence” to the client.
Here are some of the benefits of this environment:
The FSP model focuses on expertise and best in breed staffing. A specific function with the highest quality is the end product. Due to the collaboration and access to one singular environment, the sponsor and provider work hand-in-hand. The model lends itself to retention of staff at the service and sponsor level. Careers, not jobs, keep staff motivated and engaged!
The ability to ebb and flow with a sponsor is critical. Once onboarded to an assignment, the service provider team member can engage when needed and pull back when there is a slowdown. Not having to “put the band back together” is a huge plus for the sponsor. Scaling up and down based on team size is critical for when there is a shift in demand.
Working collaboratively in the sponsor’s environment enables the team to have a common language and process vs having two systems in need of integration and validation. Finally, the audit process becomes more streamlined because of working within the sponsors environment.
With FSP, the service provider takes on the cost of interviewing, onboarding, training, housing, laptop, and retention of the team member. Onboarding resources becomes the burden of the service provider, as does training.
The most successful business relationships happen when you collaborate on your needs and processes to ensure you are meeting and exceeding goals. The beauty of the FSP model is that you collaborate to create solutions that map to your workflow. With the FSP model, you can leverage the experience of the service provider to come up with best practices and metrics to measure success! The term “vendor” is replaced with “partner” as you mutually work through any issues…..and trust me, there WILL be issues!
Managing Partner, Life Sciences
Softworld Inc./Vita Data Sciences