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Where life-sciences and logistics come together

Q. What do you mean by “supply-chain integration"?

A. Integration involves the introduction of working practices, methods and behaviours that create a culture in which individuals and organisations are able to work together efficiently and effectively. That means putting aside the fragmentation, duplication and inefficiency that characterises much of the industry and replacing it with cooperation, collaboration and mutual support.

Q. Why does pharma-logistics need to integrate?

A. The pharma-logistics sector lags behind other industry groups. While collaborative working does exist, this is often piecemeal in nature, assymetric in form, generally confined to proprietary initiatives or is just a presumed condition in other multi-party programmes.

TEAM-UP identifies and explains the universal principles of collaborative working and provides guidance on how to apply these in a pharma-logistics context. Integrated working needs to be much more broadly understood and much more widely embraced if it is to deliver its promise. TEAM-UP is a pan-industry, not-for-profit, best practice body providing a focal point for pharma companies wishing to pursue supply chain integration. It provides an agenda for change, leadership for supply-chain reform, practical guidance on assembling collaborative networks and a forum for the exchange of information and ideas.

Q. We're already doing all this with our supply chain - why should we sign up to TEAM-UP?

A. If you are genuinely doing this end-to-end, then we would very much appreciate your sharing your experiences with the TEAM-UP Community and then building upon your success as part of it. In addition, your experience could be highly beneficial when it comes to TEAM-UP Charter certification where you could reasonably expect to reach the requisite standard quickly.

However, on analysis, many alleged examples of supply chain integration fall far short of ideal. There are many examples of good one-to-one collaboration around but very few pockets of genuine multi-party integration. Indeed the pharma-logistics sector lags behind other industry groups in this area. While pockets of integrated working undoubtedly exist, these are often piecemeal or limited in scope, asymmetric in format and confined to proprietary initiatives.

In pharma-logistics we happen to have two quite fundamentally different industries in close juxtaposition, each with its own business culture, practices and conventions. For integration to become a reality in this space we need to find a way of embedding common collaborative principles and practices across this divide.

And while every supply chain is different and will always need to maintain its competitive differentiation, the sector as a whole needs to embrace a shared partnering logic, ethos and set of practices if it is going to bring about a win-win supply-chain environment. Unless a significant proportion of the sector is able and willing to develop and share collaborative best-practices then true end-to-end integration will remain virtually unattainable in practice.

Q. Do I really need to go down this path?

A. No. It's your choice and many parties will elect to stay as they are and hope for the best. Whether this head-in-the-sand attitude will prove to be a good move is open to question. History is full of the corpses of complacent companies that refused to adapt to change regardless of the potential benefits. Supply chain integration has been adopted and developed in many dynamic industries where it has proven its worth. The question for most companies is not “why should we change?”but “can we afford to be left behind?

Q. Why can't we just continue developing our supply chains in glorious isolation? What would be wrong with an industry containing, say, 1000 separate, yet integrated, supply chains each doing its own thing as it sees fit?

A. This would be a fantastic situation. Except that it is not possible in practice. This is abundantly clear from the fact that, despite the principles and methodologies of collaborative working having been actively developed elsewhere over the part two decades, we have not seen very little real integration in pharma-logistics and why a 'them-and-us' and 'every man for himself' supply chain mentality continues to persist.

One of the problems stems from the fact that each organisation, and the individuals within them, operate within a distinct corporate culture and, in addition, they are only able, both physically and mentally, to pursue a very limited range of different integrated working approaches.

For example, picture a supplier that has been selected to be part of, say four, different strategic supply chains with different clients each of whom has a different understanding of what integration is about and how to go about it. Add to this the confusion amongst the different suppliers who are being pulled in different directions. It is a recipe for a hugely sub-optimal outcome, if not a complete disaster, for all parties.

TEAM-UP provides the necessary structure and common ground between all players to allow them to work together with a degree of collaborative uniformity and consistency.

Q. I am a supplier. Won't we be giving away our competitive advantage?

A. No. Quite the reverse. You will be gaining a huge competitive advantage. By achieving TEAM-UP certification you will visibly distance yourself from low-grade, corner-cutting, competition and put your company in the frame for long-term strategic partnerships with collaboratively-attuned clients.

Q. How do you see TEAM-UP taking root in established pharma centres around the world?

A. We envisage local TEAM-UP clusters being established in all the main pharma locations and these would come under the local auspices of a regional TEAM-UP bureau operating on a franchise basis and supported by independent TEAM-UP specialists. This projection will take time to fulfil and, of course, will be dependent on local uptake levels.

Q. If we have a service provider in a remote region, then how can they participate in TEAM-UP?

A. First of all, you will be responsible for raising awareness of TEAM-UP amongst your suppliers or prospective suppliers. You can do this through your normal communication/ management channels and by, for example, requiring TEAM-UP registration as a pre-qualification condition.

Thereafter much of the TEAM-UP resource itself will be available from the TEAM-UP website and many of the necessary interactions will be conducted digitally. Going forwards we may consider adding e-learning modules and similar tools to allow our message to penetrate remoter regions. Wherever possible, TEAM-UP will introduce the company to a local TEAM-UP consultant to help the participant company to work with the company to adopt and adapt the TEAM-UP model to local conditions.

Q. Isn't there a risk that TEAM-UP will result in reduced competition?

A. Not at all. TEAM-UP is 100% inclusive and open to any stakeholder in the pharma logistics supply chain. TEAM-UP is not a 'private-members club' a 'closed-shop' or a 'secret society'. Participation in TEAM-UP is open to any active stakeholder in the pharma-logistics supply chain that commits to the TEAM-UP program; a program that is expressly designed to promote integrated working and raise the quality and quantity of collaboration. Rather than reduce competition in any way, TEAM-UP stimulates competition and choice by introducing a quality factor - collaborative disposition and readiness - that serves to strongly differentiate companies that sign up to the TEAM-UP Charter.

Q. How is IP & confidentiality handled?

A. It is not expected that any highly sensitive or confidential commercial information will be routinely shared within TEAM-UP. Essentially TEAM-UP is a pre-competitive initiative that focuses on creating a collaborative culture and developing collaborative processes. This objective does not encroach directly on proprietary product or service models. And in cases, such as a TEAM-UP Peer Review session, where a candidate may elect to share proprietary information as part of a presentation, the information disclosed will be subject to NDAs and no Peer Review information will be made publicly available without prior consent.

Q. How is TEAM-UP different to other Industry Groups such as IATA CEIV?

A. TEAM-UP is focused on participants achieving a recognised level of collaborative capability through the adoption of a shared vision, common principles and recognised best-practices. It does not assess companies from a technical or regulatory perspective and it will not be developing solutions to address specific industry challenges or opportunities.

All existing industry groupings (e.g. CEIV, BPOG, Pharma-Aero, REMEDIES, CCA, TAPA etc) have strongly defined objectives which often require or assume a high degree of mutual collaboration. However in practice integration of a strategic nature that results is often fortuitous or very limited in reach. These groups in themselves do not directly facilitate or enable collaborative working on a scale that is wide enough or deep enough to be meaningful from an industry perspective. This is why TEAM-UP sits alongside these other groups and abets them in their objectives but it doesn't duplicate or replace them.

Q. Why has TEAM-UP not joined up with another body if its agenda is complementary?

A. It is important that TEAM-UP operates independently of any existing body or movement so that it does not become associated with any vested interest groups or parts of the supply chain. For example, it is relevant to the entire pharma-logistics sector including all transport modes, so it would not be appropriate for it to be perceived as being directly aligned with, for example, IATA, for example. TEAM-UP needs to be sure that its very specific 'integration' philosophy and approach doesn't get lost in the 'noise' of alternative agendas.

Q. I am a pharma shipper and I want to assign responsibility for logistics fulfilment to a third party, either a 3PL or a 4PL. Does this mean TEAM-UP has no relevance to me?

A. Not it all. Arguably it has even more relevance. This is because it is not possible for a pharma shipper to completely relinquish the ultimate responsibility for it's products including their safe storage and transportation. The creation of a competent TEAM-UP -aligned supply chain will bring the necessary focus and discipline to the supply-chain relationships concerned whilst affording the necessary visibility for the shipper to intervene on an exception basis when necessary.

Q. My company is too big and too diverse to make a wholesale commitment to the TEAM-UP programme.

A. TEAM-UP does not expect mega-corporations to come in to the programme wholesale or overnight. Participation in TEAM-UP can be undertaken on a restricted basis as required, for example by operating division or even by shipping lane. A proviso being that this delineation is recorded at the outset. The TEAM-UP Application Form makes this clear. Furthermore we will be encouraging the arrangement of pilot programmes which will generally be, by design, relatively small exercises to allow measurement and observation.

Q. I only have 25 employees. Is the TEAM-UP approach relevant to smaller companies?

A. The TEAM-UP approach is indeed appropriate for smaller companies; ones that do not necessarily have the in-house resources or supply-chain 'clout' to unilaterally pursue an integrated logistics stream. For smaller companies the continuity and other benefits of developing strategic relationships are at least as strong as for larger companies. Of course, it would be very unlikely for, say, a small trucking or component manufacturer to have any form of direct commercial relationship with a Big Pharma company. However, in a true partnering concatenation, where all parties are working towards common goals, such companies would form the outer links of a value network that is interconnected throughout. Smaller companies also enjoy a 25% discount on TEAM-UP subscription fees making it even more attractive.


Got a burning question? Something you’re not sure about? We've compiled answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about TEAM-UP. Maybe you'll find what you’re looking for right here. But if not, then please send your question HERE.