Four ways to modernize and accelerate your business

by Chris Riemer

The race to develop COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines is just the latest challenge for life sciences companies. To create medical breakthroughs, speed, accuracy, and safety are critical.

Some companies are meeting the challenges. Others are hampered by an outdated approach. At Slalom, we have found a sure path to helping companies achieve better, faster outcomes: becoming a digital product-based organization.

With a digital product-based approach, companies deliver business value in ways they couldn’t otherwise. They build connections to their customers—investigators, physicians, patients, payers, collaborators—and adapt to their fast-changing needs. They shorten the feedback loop from customers to solution-builders, leveraging actionable metrics and the latest technology and data techniques.

In traditional pharmaceutical organizations, IT operating models are structured around delivery towers of like technologies—network, data, SAP, web, content, Salesforce, Veeva, and many others. A digital product-based approach is different. It centers on delivery of a product to the end customer.

For example, a device-oriented product team—which might include user design, data and software engineering, quality, testing and DevOps—focuses on enabling the devices for patient engagement. The team is instrumental in the initial software release and continuously adds new capabilities such as smartphone connections, integration with care teams, alerts and notifications.

As each set of target capabilities is developed and delivered, the latest team would be assembled (or re-assembled) from various required skill sets. Organizational hierarchies become fluid teams built to address specific needs and are measured on that delivery.

Creating innovative digital products is complex. These four steps can help your company succeed as a digital product-based organization.

1. Build agility and innovation

Aligning product delivery teams helps create timely solutions. Using an Agile mindset, teams can quickly build and test innovative solutions. Team co-location, make-up and agile ways of working, like retrospectives, enable continuous improvement and learning from failures.

2. Encourage autonomous teams

Delivering products that customers value is the highest goal. Meeting that goal requires teams that think for themselves and embrace new ways of working. By enabling teams to own opportunity selection, requirement planning, design, and delivery, companies can help organizations stay ahead of the evolving needs of life sciences customers and patients.

3. Drive accelerated delivery

Quality and creating true customer value define digital product-based organizations, and DevOps capabilities are at the heart of the process. Continuous integration helps accelerate delivery and experimentation while improving quality.

4. Leverage business value tracking

To be successful long-term, organizations need to understand what their customers value, measure their ability to deliver that value, and constantly strive to improve the customer experience. Teams own and track metrics and analytics, embed them into their products, and use them to quickly evaluate areas for improvement.


Life sciences is among the most dynamic sectors, with an important role to play in tackling today’s COVID-19 crisis and many other pressing issues. In today’s climate, only a digital product-based business—with a focus on anticipating and meeting customer needs—can handle these challenges.

Ready to modernize and accelerate?