In the decades James Neal spent in systems implementation and consulting for pharmaceuticals, he identified a gap at a critical point in the lifecycle of clinical, pre-revenue pharmaceutical companies. The move from stage 1 clinical trials to stages 2 and 3 happened fast—really, really fast—and followed a trajectory that didn’t really mirror growth in any other industry.
These companies needed robust financial processes and controls at lightning speed. And, for many, the system they chose needed to accommodate global financial processes, as trials for efficacy often occurred in different countries simultaneously. They needed to manage and automate complex purchasing transactions and approval flows in a way that didn’t map to traditional purchase order management. And they needed a platform that would support not only their existing growth, but also scale to accommodate the next stage, which include manufacturing processes, either outsourced or conducted in-house.
And many times, the companies themselves didn’t even fully understand that they needed all of that.
“Every day, they were doing things that other companies might see once in a lifetime,” Neal said.
It was with all that in mind that Neal launched AdaptaLogix in 2016, a boutique ERP implementation and consulting firm devoted exclusively to clinical stage, pre-revenue pharmaceutical companies, particularly to those getting ready for or in the midst of stage 2 clinical trials.
In just two years since its launch, the Philadelphia-based company has become the go-to NetSuite provider in this space, earning its reputation for a team deeply steeped in knowledge of everything a pre-revenue pharmaceutical company needs to operate soundly, efficiently and effectively, from implementing controls required for SOX compliance, to implementing testing protocols required for FDA validation. AdaptaLogix has saved its customers hundreds of thousands of dollars in operational costs, according to Neal, as well as the headaches associated with getting mired in operations – allowing them to focus on bringing life-changing drugs to market.
“We’re not an implementation partner, we’re a full solution consulting partner,” he said.
When There’s Little Time to get off QuickBooks
Within a period of sometimes as little as a year, a pre-revenue pharmaceutical company can go from five to six employees to 60 employees in phase 2 clinical trials, to some 300 to 400 when they enter phase 3.
At the same time, they’re often dealing with a dizzying mix of IPO, expansion, being acquired or acquiring someone else, commercialization and globalization. Having the tools to reduce time on financial close, ease global consolidations and eliminations, and to ensure better forecasting and planning is paramount.
Somewhere in the mix of everything listed above is where Neal’s first three “clients” sought his advice—before AdaptaLogix was AdaptaLogix. Their total confidence in his direction birthed the idea to launch a business devoted to this crucial and unique space.
“Whatever software you pick to build your implementation and consulting business around, we’ll put in,” his early clients told him.
Neal had implemented SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, OpenSystems and Deltek. None of them would be a good fit for this space, he thought. The systems were either too expensive, not flexible enough, or didn’t offer deployment models to fit the needs of the global, remote workforce that supports clinical, pre-revenue pharmaceutical growth. Seeking a cloud-based system, he started to look at two systems he hadn’t implemented before: NetSuite and Intacct.
“When we brought them both through the process, Intacct fell apart,” Neal said. Specifically, Intacct lacked the ability to handle transfer pricing when it came to selling products in different countries.
“It didn’t scale,” Neal said. “NetSuite was so much more mature.”
Financials in 90 days, with focus on future
Since launching its practice in 2016, Adaptalogix has relied on NetSuite to serve the needs of customers during this unique stage of pharmaceutical growth. Adaptalogix developed SuiteSuccess for Pharma, specifically tailored to meet the needs of clinical, pre-revenue pharmaceutical companies, allowing clients to implement base financial functionality in as little as 90 days. This positions the businesses with the sound financial automation and controls, as well as access to data for analysis, that will set them up strongly for the next phase of growth.
From there, AdaptaLogix has developed software and services for two tracks a pharmaceutical company typically follows: to complete manufacturing in-house or, which is more often the case, to outsource manufacturing processes. That includes custom-developed modules to fit the unique ways and requirements of a pre-revenue pharmaceutical company would manage contracts, approvals, or work with 3PLs.
As it continues to grow itself, AdaptaLogix plans to expand into technical accounting services, FDA validation services, and establishing a sort of “Pharma Hub” where like-minded companies servicing the same market can come together and share best practices for the advancement of the industry.
“We want to become perfect at delivering this,” Neal said. “We know exactly what they need to do we’re able to supplement what they need, without creating more headache than they need to have.”