Cracking Complexity At Novartis

Anne SaletesIn a video just released, Dr Anne Salètes, Head of Training and Continuous Improvement for Global Clinical Operations at Novartis, brings to life the challenges when precision and attention to detail become barriers to collaboration in complex global operations.

At the Nimbus IP11 conference in London in September, Dr Salètes’ presentation told the story of how Novartis adopted Nimbus as its platform for managing processes and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in clinical development.  Novartis is a leader in process-based SOPs: adopting end-to-end process as its business language, transforming content buried in libraries of Word documents into holistic business perspectives.

Dr Salètes’ mainstage interview with Richard Parker on the morning of the conference has now been released as a video. In the course of that discussion, Dr Salètes talks about some of the benefits of a process-based SOP model.

She describes how patient safety and data validity are, of course, the paramount  concerns. But in organizations as large and complex as Novartis, the precision and risk aversion that underpin that safety culture can become significant barriers to cross-silo collaboration.

She notes the value of visualization and simplicity of presentation:  “Our people are extremely precise,” she says, “but it is very difficult to find skilled people who are extremely precise and who can see the big picture. What we are bringing them is a better view of the big picture. ”

By creating an end-to-end representation of Novartis’ clinical operations processes: “We are bringing everyone to the same view.  We are all challenging the same view. We can see how we can improve'”.

The benefits of a process-based approach are not just in performance improvement and Lean programs.

Novartis now has a common view of regulatory jurisdictions globally, which makes it easier to ensure compliance.  Even more significantly perhaps, end-to-end perspectives also discourage silo-based approaches to compliance – the temptation to think: “This is my little area and that’s where I have to be compliant”, as Dr Salètes describes it. It enables each person and team to understand and play their part in end-to-end compliance.

It’s a funny thing that when many people think of process, their first thought is of complexity.  But Novartis is another example that process, when it’s properly conceived, can be the key to cracking complexity and enabling effective collaboration.

© Text Michael Gammage 2013

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