Key Criteria for Selecting a Pharmaceutical Speaker Bureau Company (Part II of II)

October 3, 2023

Read Part 1 for the first three critical criteria to consider when selecting a pharmaceutical speaker bureau company.

Find the next three critical criteria for making a prudent and long-lasting vendor selection below.

#4: Pharma Aggregate Spend Data & Reporting

One of the primary reasons companies seek out PharMethod is dissatisfaction with their current vendor when it comes to dutiful and consistent aggregate spend data capture and reporting. When it comes to this factor, one must be extremely careful to discern how a potential new vendor partner handles the management of all information around transfer of value and indeed all spending for the execution of compliant speaker programs and events.

In our experience at PharMethod, the vendor should shoulder full responsibility from the initial development of the speaker bureau initiative budget in partnership with the company, through to the procurement and reconciliation of programs of events tracking and reporting on all applicable program spends. With a key stroke one should be able to see spends from the global level, down to the region, territory, program, KOL/speaker, and attendee levels as needed.

Ask prospective vendors if they have a system in place to help manage speaker programs spending effectively, and to demonstrate this if possible. For Marketing teams, this means down to the penny financial reports are available 24/7 for tracking of budget burn rate to maximize spending. For Compliance and Finance teams this means complete visibility at all times for speaker bureau spending with strict adherence to all compliance guidelines and standards. Can the vendor provide financial forecasts to aid in budget management? How does the vendor handle monthly accruals?

#5: Pharma Speaker Program Compliance Monitoring & Oversight

We all know how heavily scrutinized speaker programs and events have become since the dawning of Senator Grassley’s Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2007. Regulators closely monitor speaker programs to ensure compliance, and companies employ various means to maintain clean and accurate records at all times. Organizations need pharmaceutical speaker bureau companies who can strengthen their capabilities to plan and execute fully compliant programs and events, while at the same time simplifying the administrative and day-to-day management of the modern speaker bureau program.

How does the vendor ensure all applicable compliance guidelines and standards are adhered to at all times? What systems and processes do they have in place to stay up to date on changes in policy?

This is yet another service area where all pharmaceutical speaker bureau companies are definitely not created equal. Our vision at PharMethod is to be the trusted third-party compliance partner and watch dog for all our clients. Any services discussion or RFP should deeply explore the vendor’s vision for compliance support and adherence as a potential partner to avoid costly mistakes post implementation that can take a speaker programs initiative completely offline.

#6: Strategic Account Management

Have you ever hired an agency or vendor whom you thought was going to make your life easier but who ended up making it more difficult? Perhaps you had to monitor them to ensure their work was consistent or pursue them with multiple calls and emails just to get an answer to a simple question?

Another fundamental reason companies approach PharMethod to take on their speaker bureau management is a failure on the part of their current vendor to take ownership of the initiative. There are so many moving parts and daily tasks that must be undertaken to run a speaker bureau successfully, and having an ownership mentality has been a cornerstone of our success for decades. It is imperative to understand the prospective vendor’s mindset toward this, and how it might or might not carry over into the fabric of the partnership itself.

We recommend asking questions about a vendor’s vision for client relations. What are their standard practices around client availability? How do they build and assign a team? How tenured are the team members? What kind of touchpoints will there be for you as the client? Will you have to chase them for information, or will the vendor come to you having anticipated your needs? How proactive and consultative will they be once the bid is won and contracts are signed? Ask the prospective vendor to describe a time they eliminated perceived knowledge gaps before they become problematic for a client. Ask them to describe a situation where they identified a potential problem, and addressed it proactively.

Try to get a feel for how the relationship will work and how responsive your prospective vendor will be. Understanding what the day to day working relationship will be like is a critical requirement in the vendor evaluation process.

 


 

Hopefully you have found this post helpful. By exploring the six criteria provided here, your next speaker bureau vendor evaluation or RFP can go more smoothly and lead you to a resolution that provides years of outstanding service. What criteria have we overlooked? We’d love to hear from you. Please use the link below to reach out and speak with one of our expert consultants.

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