2018 marks the midway point in Zuellig Pharma's strategic transformation journey. Over the past few years, the business has strengthened its operating fundamentals while driving new innovations and operating efficiencies. As the business embarks on the next phase of its transformation plan, hear more from Victoria Folbigg, VP of Procurement and Brett Marshall, Corporate Head of Quality Assurance, on how both functions can continue to work together to bring the business to new heights.

1. Tell us a little bit more about the Quality Assurance (QA) and Procurement functions.

Brett: The QA team helps to ensure that all operational processes within the business comply with domestic and international quality standards across all the areas of supply chain management, to ensure product integrity and patient safety. QA has become a key consideration for many of our clients as medicines become increasingly complex and treatment by practitioners become more sophisticated, thus impacting the way pharma products need to be managed and distributed. Over the past few years, we constructed and implemented the Quality Management System in line with updated international guidelines. As we continue to grow across the region, it is important that we establish standards across all touchpoints and that our clients recognise that they can rely on the consistency of our high-quality standards across all the markets we operate.

Victoria: Procurement is the backbone of any business. Effective procurement allows us to avoid unnecessary costs and helps to create valuable partnerships with key suppliers. This decreases risk of supplier or quality failure and helps to increase innovation and simplification that is necessary for our business to thrive.  

2. How did the two functions start working together and what are some successes you’ve accomplished so far?

Victoria: Clients are increasingly expecting more from us. What helped us maintain our relationships and prices was our strong quality and compliance capabilities. By demonstrating our adherence to strict quality controls, we were able to justify our costs. When quality and procurement work together, we can balance both aspects for the benefit of our clients. It’s a very powerful proposition that gives us an edge in the market. A great example is our sophisticated packaging solution which we’ve patented - the eZCooler. The quality and procurement teams worked together to find a great supplier that could meet our quality standards at a cost-effective price to create this. The result is a unique differentiation in the market. 

Brett: Supplier Management is a key area to consider when developing a solid compliance framework. International regulatory bodies have made several demanding changes in terms of supplier quality management. This applies to both goods and services we procure while operating the business. With this increased focus on quality, it is even more imperative that procurement and quality collaborates to ensure greater transparency in the process. It is also important to balance cost as well as quality in terms of the operational components, including cold chain infrastructure and packaging systems, among many others.

3. What are some of the challenges so far?

Victoria: We are still working on getting a wider appreciation and understanding within our organisation of the effort and value of what we do in Quality and Procurement. We need to keep moving away from the perception of Procurement being an ‘order taker’ and processor of purchase orders and allow the team the needed bandwidth to work hand in hand with our Quality team to find best cost/quality suppliers to create smart supplier agreements that keep propelling us forward.

Brett: As we move into the non-traditional quality areas, the relationship between quality and procurement needs to remain strong as we work together to educate the organisation and strengthen engagement for this important strategic approach.

4. What is the one key takeaway you want readers to know about?

BOTH: The collaboration between Procurement and Quality is particularly important to achieve the right balance of risk and reward. We need to move away from what we might call ‘partisan’ supplier selection, e.g. quality, cost, reputation and financial viability, information security, regulatory and compliance requirements and commitments. Our organisation needs to support Quality and Procurement in building strategic relationships with new and existing suppliers, which not only strengthens Zuellig Pharma’s capabilities, but also keep us at the leading edge of service and technology.