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Global business services in life sciences: A window to the future

Global business services in life sciences

KPMG report explains five key benefits of global business services and how to implement it successfully.


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As international life sciences companies seek ways to transform their operations in the midst of wrenching change, they are establishing global business services (GBS), a cross-functional, globe-spanning model that integrates resources, capabilities and systems throughout the entire enterprise. GBS includes shared services and outsourcing and extends operational improvements considerably further into every corner of the organization. The benefits of GBS are outlined in a new report by KPMG International, Global business services in life sciences: A window to the future.

"Outsourcing has been going on for a long time, but it was fragmented and decentralized," says Don Ryan, Director, KPMG in the US. "Now, companies are taking it to the next level to support core business processes in a way that is cross-functional, centralized, global and integrated." The report is based on years of advisory work by KPMG subject matter experts, advising companies on how to implement GBS to transform their operations.

A key element of GBS is the focus on processes that span the entire enterprise. As the report explains, the orientation of end-to-end processes as part of GBS can enable the enterprise to adopt new technologies more rapidly and benefit from them faster. An example of this is cognitive automation, a continuum of technologies that companies can use to automate business processes and operations.

Among the benefits of GBS are:

  • Cost savings: By centralizing core functions, companies can continue to extract savings long after companies have exhausted other avenues for achieving efficiencies. "Almost all life sciences companies have reduced the workforce, and yet cost reduction remains at the forefront of executives’ minds. GBS takes cost reduction to the next level," says Vicki Phelan, Managing Director, Shared Service Outsourcing Advisory (SSOA), KPMG in the US.
  • Stronger compliance: Organizations are able to build more robust structures to comply with growing demands for better business conduct, from regulators around the world.
  • Faster implementation of corporate transactions: Completion of mergers and divestitures can be accelerated, shortening time-to-market and time-to-benefit. One pharmaceuticals company bought 11 businesses within two years and its GBS organization was able to help disentangle and integrate them into the central organization.
  • Increased flexibility: "The recent acceleration of corporate transactions in the industry is creating the need for a flexible and adaptable platform for the back and middle office, enabling it to scale up quickly to meet new business needs," says Bob Cecil, a Principal in KPMG’s SSOA practice, KPMG in the US.
  • Global reach: By incorporating all key services worldwide into a single GBS organization, companies can fully realize economies of scale. "This is a particular asset for Japanese pharmaceutical companies where the English language is not widely spoken and there is a need to standardize processes globally," says Hideki Machida, Manager, KPMG in Japan.

Despite these benefits, many companies have not yet taken full advantage of the effect of establishing GBS for their organization. Once they see the wide-ranging gains from GBS and implement it fully, they will be able to realize the value. But they should not underestimate the scope of the changes required and the degree of resistance they might be met with in the company. The roles and responsibilities of many people at all levels of the organization will be affected, as one would expect with any profound alteration in governance and processes.

For further information, contact:

Carolyn Forest

Global Communications

KPMG International

Tel: +1 416 777 3857 (office)

Tel: +1 416 986 2316 (mobile)

About the report:

Global business services in life sciences: A window to the future is a new report from KPMG International’s Global Life Sciences Practice, explaining the benefits of global business services (GBS), particularly when it incorporates cognitive automation. It provides real-world insights from KPMG’s subject matter experts around the world, who have advised clients on how to implement GBS successfully.

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 155 countries and have 174,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

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