People And Process: The Backbone Of Quality

Quality and consistency are important to every industry, more so the pharma sector. Every industrial sector has its own rules and regulations that govern it, and the pharma industry is no different. It is important to follow certain processes to ensure quality of the end product. We all know and realise the importance of these processes, but as an industry, we still face several problems of quality.

The four Ps

In my opinion, there are several factors that contribute to the success of an organisation, the most important, in our context, being the 4Ps: Patient, Physician, People and Process. The initial two – Patient and Physician – are vital to us. Though they are the reason for our existence; they are external factors. The last two – People and Process – are internal factors that contribute to quality, and eventually to our success. These two factors are central in the larger scheme of things.

The right processes

Quality is the by-product of excellence and consistency. It’s not just enough to achieve high standards of quality; an organisation must be able to replicate it consistently to achieve success. When we create a process that is simple and fail-proof, it is that much easier for employees to follow it without making errors. It is important for an organisation to continuously work towards simplifying the process, so people can carry it out consistently, day on and day out.

Sometimes, we have procedure documents that run on for more than 100 pages; it is not easy to follow such processes every single day flawlessly. People are prone to error; sometimes employees are not in the best of health, or they might be distracted by other things. Everybody has good days and bad days; people are not robots, they have emotions. What they do at work has a great impact on the organisation’s success. We need to create procedures that are fail-proof, and simplify the lives of the people who work on the product, thus ensuring that the end product is always safe and effective.

People power

People drive the organisation and it is important for every company to invest in the right people. Twenty years ago, I thought that it was the process, the SOPs, and the systems that was important for consistent quality. With experience, and as I reflect more, I realise that it’s the people who define the success of a process.

Harnessing the power of people is the one of the biggest challenges faced around the world. People are governed by their emotions, and different people have different levels of understanding. To create a workforce where everyone follows the rigours of the process consistently, and where they understand the impact of errors, is a daunting task.

In any industry, the more the organisation relies on manual power, the tougher it is to be consistent. It is a challenge all around the world, and more so in India because people face more hardships here. Just getting to work is exhausting because of the traffic and the lack of discipline on the streets. It seems unrealistic to expect people to perform their very best at all times at work when people have to struggle just to get to work. I have seen people cutting corners and breaking traffic rules to save a precious few minutes on the road. If people are cutting corners outside office, it is highly likely they would do the same at work too. And that is why it is important to hire the right people; the company that gets their people right is going to be the winner in the long run.

A possible solution to this conundrum is to automate as much as possible. For instance, the automotive industry has automated a lot of their processes unlike the healthcare industry which still relies on people. The highest peaks of success and consistent quality can be achieved by automating as many processes as possible, simplifying processes that can’t be automated and hiring the right people.

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Innoventia – Search For Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare

Keeping up with Cipla’s innovation-driven credo, happy to share one of our big initiatives towards the same. Check out Innoventia.Cipla.Com to participate & reinvent the way we deliver healthcare.

I take this opportunity to also write my thoughts on why an initiative like Innoventia is much needed in our times.

They say when data is tortured enough, it will confess to anything! This couldn’t ring truer than now- when ‘sharing’ has become a way of life, thanks to the digital takeover of our lives. Everything is under the impact of the fastest moving phenomenon in recent times: CHANGE. In fact, change is the new technology, permeating everything, especially healthcare.

We are already witnessing applications for blockchain and more uses for AI, especially in diagnosis. Analytics has become the new buzzword. In the broad sweep of AI’s current worldly ambitions, machine learning healthcare applications seem to top the list for funding. Clearly, healthcare is no longer about the passive delivery of diagnostics, drugs and infrastructure. Guess why?

Along with the diseases, patients are changing too – across the spectrum of understanding, knowledge, and management of diseases given the emerging technology canvas.

So what’s next? Innovation is the only answer – to tide this wave of life-altering times to transform the delivery of care.

Therefore, is it healthcare or tech care? A question that will perhaps be answered through the lens of innovation.

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#WorldBookDay: Books That Have Influenced My Life

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Meet Challenges Head On – Dr Ranjana Pathak To Women Leaders In The Making

My journey has been a roller coaster ride, filled with laughter and some tears. The challenges were numerous, since I started at the very bottom, this forces you to learn, understand the nuances of the job, the expectations of the organisation, and the regulators.

This job soon became a career and now a calling. I have always been driven, spent hours reading trade journals, studying books on key topics such as chromatography, the USP etc. By the way, the USP is a great book to learn from if you are in the lab. When I started my career, I was the only girl in the QC lab, it was daunting because I had zero experience, this was a challenge to overcome. For me it was a new country, working for the first time in my life, so I suppose the survival instinct kicked in. I have always been very focused. I have the drive to be the best in what I do. These two traits have enabled me to be a perennial student, keeping me in the learning mode. I never liked the status quo and always opted for harder tasks, taught courses because it would force me to learn and be challenged by pharma executives. The need to excel has been with me literally all my life which drives me to take challenges head-on.

In summary, it is my purpose, drive, doggedness, persistence and courage that have enabled me to overcome the numerous challenges that faced me and I know I am not alone! I have also been blessed with having a very supportive family, bosses and colleagues.

Challenges for women leaders

Time is the biggest challenge, the pharma industry is competitive and by nature, timeline bound. There is seldom tomorrow, everything seems to be needed yesterday, a very fast paced, exacting and demanding industry, full of challenges, some anticipated and others binding. For women, to play their classical roles in society and families becomes difficult, because of their innate nature.
Women from time immemorial have been jugglers, they must juggle the needs of their families, children, work, friends, communities etc…the list goes on and on.
Given that the number of hours is limited for all, women need to be able to prioritise the ‘must dos’, and let go of those tasks that cannot be done and will not matter in the long run, ‘take help’ from family members, friends, neighbours to be able to juggle everything on their plate.

Creating a conducive growth environment

The government can and should execute laws that are conducive for women to work, the organisations then must follow through to make the workplace environment safe. School and universities should promote science and maths so children join science rather than hanker for business degrees alone, don’t get me wrong we need those as well but I think I see a tip towards business. If there is no product, there will be no business to manage. Today’s generation wants instant gratification, the millennials are different from the baby boomer generation, their needs and tolerances are not the same. Careers in disciplines other science seem to be more popular. The pharma industry needs sharp scientists, engineers, biologists, microbiologists, physicists, computer science etc. to ensure that new drugs/devices are developed, existing drugs are made more affordable, the quality is uncompromised. This is a daunting task where the government can help in ensuring the platforms exist. The government can do a lot to make this feasible for women/ girls in urban and rural schools.

Need for regular campus placement

There are more number of science graduates coming out of universities who want to join the pharma sector. However, due to lack of job opportunities, they have to change their career goal. To address this, the pharma industry needs to be present on the campus to educate the graduates of tomorrow about the needs of humanity (need for medicines) and the need of society.

Success Mantra

To my newcomers and those that are stalwarts: Always do the right thing, be courageous, know your subject, believe in yourself, look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say—Wow, I am looking at a great piece of art that is going to make a huge difference today!!! If I can do it…You can do it better!!

This article originally appeared in Express Pharma.

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Books: A Cerebral Affair

“A Reader lives a thousand lives before dying. Those who never read live only once!”

All of us enter youth and the corporate world with the quiet confidence that we can change the world. Alas, this lasts only “until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag us from the height of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain”. Our everyday challenges – finding and then doing well in a good job, keeping up with an often fragile relationship, the heavy load of expectations from our parents and ourselves, lack of clarity on what we really want to do in life, the rat race and constant comparison with our peers – often pull us down into mediocrity. And the grand idea of being the very best we can gets quietly put aside.

So Why Read Books?

If we agree that good counsel can help us become much better, what better guide than books? Mentors and teachers can come and go and may turn out to be false Gods. Why not drink from the ageless wisdom of good books, learning from the myriad experiences of some of the best of our species?

As Durant said, “When life is bitter, or friendship slips away, or perhaps our children leave us for their own haunts and home, let us come and sit at the table with Shakespeare and Goethe…”

But What Exactly To Read?

There is a book for every mood and occasion. Choosing few recommendations is not easy (±130 million books have been written!), so let’s decide how we will choose:

  • Life-changing: Will make us wiser. That can bring fundamental changes in our thinking and attitude, answer the big Why questions.
  • Engaging and Fun: We want to grow, but also enjoy the journey. We may not have the patience (yet!) to go through deep but boring books.

Let me start with a few recommendations from my side (click each link for more recommendations and a short summary)…

(If you want more, see my blog on 100 Books To Make Us Wise).

Part of what makes a book memorable is our own life experiences that can relate to it. So look out for what appeals to you. Obviously, choose the books very carefully. Good books can be an everlasting love affair, just as bad books can be more enervating than a date gone horribly wrong.


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