If you need help making corporate, product, strategic or any other critical decision, you might find yourself turning to a life sciences consulting firm. However, it’s hard to know what to look for. Whether you’re a financial sponsor, or working on behalf of a healthcare service, academic institute or global pharmaceutical company, here are some questions to ask yourself when looking for a consulting firm to work with.

What ‘kind’ of firm do you want to work with?

The approach and attitude of life science consulting firms vary from company to company. So, be clear about what it is you value when you’re choosing one to work with. For instance, a traditional pharmaceutical strategy consulting firm might offer the level of professionalism, calibre, reputation and intellectual rigour that your organisation requires.

However, a more modern firm may comprise of lots of independent specialist consultants with deep-domain industry experience, as opposed to a traditional one that seems to be more ‘academic’. That said, do take the time to look for consulting firms who fuse to the two together. Alacrita, for example, is a life sciences consulting firm that combines traditional pharmaceutical strategy consulting with independent specialist consultants in order to offer their clients the best of both worlds: something your organisation might benefit from.

How senior do you need the team to be?

There’s no doubt that some of the brightest and most brilliant minds in the industry are young ones. However, when you’re working with a consulting firm, it’s understandable to want to work with people who have amassed a number of year’s worth of experience. For that reason, consider whether or not you want to be working with a firm that assigns you entry-level consultants. You may feel more comfortable working with seniors that have at least 15 year’s industry or consulting experience, as opposed to individuals who are straight out of university.

Who have they worked with?

Once you have a good idea of how the firm’s approach and the team you could be working with, it’s worth finding out who their previous and existing clients are. Explore their website to find out who they work with, and ask for contact details so you can speak to a current client for an honest review of the consulting firm’s services. Ask questions about where the firm operates too: being able to demonstrate local expertise in a market that’s relevant to your business (as opposed to simply demonstrating experience within Europe, for instance) may make them a much stronger choice over another firm you’re considering.  

What are their capabilities?

A high quality life sciences consulting firm will have deep expertise in many fields. They should be able to provide you with support in numerous specialisms, such as pharmaceutical product development, market access and pricing, right the way through to licenses and deal-making. Make enquiries into what they can offer your business in particular, letting them know what your current challenges are – the right firm may be able to assist with more than you’re imagining.

What have they achieved?

Finally, take the time to find out what the consulting firm has achieved lately. A firm with lots to talk about will undoubtedly be updating their blog or news section of their site to share recent case studies. Look for case studies relating to commercialisation, product development and business development (any life science firm that knows how to market themselves will always update their case study page), as this will show you what their scope of work is, what level of expertise they’re able to offer, and what success looks like to them.

You’ll need to do lots of research to ensure you’re making the best use of the money you’re investing in the services of a consulting firm. It’s important to understand what constitutes value (as a quick-fix with the wrong firm may not bring about long-term value and profitability), and you should feel confident that the consulting firm you ultimately choose have a strong reputation.

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