Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #719 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

These articles take some insights and the title from INSEAD articles by Ayman Jawhar whose links appear at the end. The original articles are not about pharmaceuticals.

Tools and Processes

The fourth (last) component of culture is the nuts and bolts of the system. Developed corporates have elaborates processes which are designed to facilitate smooth flow of work. The hierarchies are defined, approval processes are in place, and things are expected to move in an orderly manner. Every organization holds a wealth of knowledge which it gathers over time. It is a great dilemma as to what to do with this knowledge, how to preserve it, how to make it accessible to everyone.

Among processes, there are metrics and frameworks which must be prepared diligently for presenting. Data is to be extracted from IQVIA books and plotted in various ways to make a point. Many PMs whose corporates are subscribers of IQVIA products, tend to become hostage of data, rather than using data to their advantage. What the PMs do not realize is that; one, they are looking at the past; and two, these figures are just a record, and do not show the reasons. Data from IQVIA or other sources must be seen with the market information, and not the other way round. However, majority of PMs keep rather extreme faith in dead data, but not in the live information. I am not undermining the importance of data; I am putting in its right context.

Market feedback system has never worked well in any pharmaceutical company at any time. The people who are in the market every day are neither trained nor motivated to give proper feedback about their own strategies or competitor activities. The PMs who occasionally go out in the market have little time there and their contact with customers is too little to give them good insight. This is another reason for dependence on paper data.

Data-based and data-driven strategies are order of the day. In all honesty, there is no record of how many of these work or fail. If it works, the strategy is good; if it fails, it was not implemented wholeheartedly.

Local corporates are mostly dependent on the people working there for installing and improving tools and processes. These guys bring the same tools which they were using in the previous corporates. They would insist on using the same templates, in the same manner, without realizing that every organization is a different animal, and things done at one place may not be replicated at the other place. This goes on however, even if pointed out.

Cultural, Personal, Organizational Implications

Before I go on to offering suggestions and solutions, it is necessary to sum up the discussion done so far.

We started our discussion with the traditional role of PMs, the expectations from them, and their own self-imposed compulsions.

Bottomline is – PMs are required to develop strategies and tools for increasing the business of company.

It is expected that they will ensure growth of brands, strengthening of therapeutic segments, company image, and market share.

It is also required that they will try to achieve targets decided elsewhere by seniors who did not look at market data and market realities.

It is desired that they will utilize their resources in such a manner to get the maximum value out of these.

It is considered that they will keep the senior management informed at all times about the developments.

Occasionally, they may be expected to propose new products or new segments. If they do, they must qualify their proposal with the help of data.

The structure of marketing department has evolved in a way that things happen in isolation at four levels.

One, the top level decides the direction, the corporate objectives, business targets, financial budgets, and other key matters.

Two, the second level, BUM/MM/GPM discuss and decide how to achieve corporate objectives. The PMs are given their share of tasks; sales managers are given their part of the assignment. Both may or may not work coherently.

Three, the supply chain, including production, take up the task of producing more stocks in accordance with the objectives. There is a catch here however, the supply chain works directly under the CEO/Owner in most companies. They get a separate set of instructions which are to go slow and not rush into increasing production unless there is clear demand. A period of shortage is better than excess stocks.

Four, the finance has its own shenanigans. They work even more closely with the Chief and they have a further set of instructions; not to release funds to anyone unless there is visible hue and cry. This is another control mechanism applied in most organization.

Interestingly, all four levels operate independently, each considering that they are the ones most loyal to the instructions. In this way, the senior management puts a spanner in its own work, and still looks forward to great results. It is true that most entrepreneurs are ‘the obstacle’ to the growth of their organizations. Some have a certain baseline that they wish to achieve but they let the projections run wild. I greatly admire that in one organization, one owner brother accepted ambitious targets, but the other brother refused. He said it would require additional funding which was not available so there was no point of aiming high unnecessarily. He had the objectivity and moral courage to do this.

The sum up is that the product managers’ job has evolved over time but not always in the right direction. What the PMs are doing now is not their true calling. It is equally clear that the PMs do not have the liberty to work they would like to work. It is a tricky situation, but we shall see in the next post, the last of this series, how can possibly way be carved out of this.

To be Continued…….

Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.

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