Isn’t this still just a hamburger?
I’m always amazed at the guy that orders a hamburger at a high-end restaurant. Actually, I’m amazed it’s even on the menu. If you’re at a great restaurant, I’m sure there’s something much better than the $22 burger you’re about to order. In fact, I bet the bar down the street gets its ground beef from the same supplier. Sure you get frites instead of fries at the upscale place, but I’m pretty sure they’re the same thing.
I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon happening in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech industries with some of the business being directed to contract research organizations (CROs). This isn’t meant to be a knock against the CRO industry. If you’re going to outsource a project or function and need facilities, systems, or in-house expertise, CROs are the right choice. However, if you are going to keep some level of control over the project and are just utilizing the talent from a CRO, aren’t you really just buying that high-priced burger?
Staffing firms are capable of staffing projects with the same or arguably better talent than what a CRO can provide. If the sponsor wants to keep control of the project and not completely outsource the work, the staffing firm can execute a more cost-effective solution without a difference in quality.
If the following parameters describe your project, perhaps a competent staffing firm with solutions experience would provide greater value:
- The work is performed at the client’s facility and follows the client’s standard operating procedures (SOPs).
- If performed off-site, the work still follows the client’s SOPs and uses the client’s systems.
- The project requires project management of people and deliverables, but not any additional systems, lab facilities, equipment, or SOPs that are not client-owned resources.
When sponsors use CROs for projects that only involve talent and some level of project management, they are paying $22 for a burger. Just as the classy restaurant and the corner bar used the same ground beef supplier in the burger example, CROs often use staffing partners to deliver this kind of work anyway. Many times the sponsor is paying an increased price for the same product. At the end of the day, it’s still just a hamburger.
Mike Gamble is Vice President of Life Sciences Talent Solutions at Yoh.