4 Things to Think About When You’re Ready to Outsource Your Life Sciences Talent

By Peter Vasquez, Director of Operations at Mix

As I discussed recently in 3 Things To Think About Before You Outsource Your Life Sciences Talent, leveraging outsourced talent can be a high-risk, high-reward practice.

Taking an intentional approach and considering the points I outline in that post – identifying your core business and market, your unique risks, and your workforce plan – can help you determine how best to use outsourced talent and make it a key growth strategy for your life sciences organization.

And yet, even if outsourcing makes all the sense in the world for your organization, if it’s poorly executed it could still be a failure – which is why I want to help you think about some key things that should influence how you approach outsourcing talent.

Let’s dig in.

1. Start with the end in mind

Consider what you hope to accomplish and how you will measure it – the ROI for your strategy. This is critical because it will influence how you plan and execute your approach to outsourcing, ensuring you are laser-focused on the reasons for – and goals of – outsourcing talent. Keep in mind the “What” and “When” I wrote about in my last article.

If your objective is to create organizational flexibility or address a short-term market opportunity then the quarterly or annual financial metrics – Revenue, EBITDA, Market Share growth – will tell you how you’ve done. For cyclical or seasonal workers, you may focus on how seamlessly you are able to flex up and flex down. For longer-term or customer-facing engagements, you may want to consider CSAT scores, or the quality of contractors measured through employee surveys or how many you hire full-time.

There’s no one-size fits all approach, so think about the specific return(s) that would be most meaningful to your outsourcing investment.

Setting the right framework for the program will help you evaluate its effectiveness, adjust as your strategy evolves, and ensure you have an aligned outsourcing partner. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Choose the right partner

“Partner” is a word we throw around a lot. The truth is, there is no shortage of companies and consultants who would be happy to sell you their services and take your money, and signing a contract doesn’t make them a “partner.” While there are plenty of factors to consider when deciding who to work with, including everything from pricing to location, here are a few that are especially important.

Specialized expertise

Work with a team that has experience in the functional area (and with the type of talent) you need, whether that be sales, research, commercialization, or any other function.

Leadership involvement

Don’t get sold by the A team and then handed off to the B team, or – for that matter – the D team. Specialized expertise is useless if it’s not part of the team that’s supporting you.

True thought partner

I could always tell when the advice a “partner” was giving me was more about selling more of their services than about making me and my company more successful. Find an unbiased partner who will help you evaluate the right strategies and options and will not be too fixated on helping you in the ways that are most familiar or comfortable to them

I could write an entire article on how to choose the right partner. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with this partner and trust they have your organization’s best interests in mind, both at the beginning of the engagement and throughout it.

As Mix Talent’s President, Mick Shimp says, “Trust is not owned, the rent comes due every day.”

3. Prepare your organization

Trust is a two-way street, and if you want to have a good partner, you need to be a good partner. So, in parallel to choosing the right partner to support you, it’s critical that your organization is prepared to work with that partner.

Start with the basics. This includes setting up clear communication channels and regular executive-level quarterly or annual reviews. Make sure you understand how information will be exchanged, whose systems will be used, and all of the other practical details like expectations on timelines, deliverables, invoices, and timecard approvals, all of which are essential for a successful partnership.

Then think through the custom pieces specific to your business that are part of your core strategy. If your strategy includes experimentation or addressing short-term market opportunities, then make sure your organization knows how to prepare a “mission brief” to get your partners up to speed, get the right talent, and go to market quickly. If you want to create a pathway for outsourced talent to join your organization as part of your ongoing workforce planning, then make sure you pay particular attention to IRS guidance and train your people and systems in how to work with contractors and bring them through an interview and hiring process for full-time roles, so there’s never a question about who’s an employee or a contractor.

An experienced partner should be able to help you think through many of the right questions, but they don’t know your company as well as you do, so consider what you need in advance and be prepared to work it out with your partner early on.

4. Keep talent at the center

Without question, outsourcing talent can provide many great benefits – but only if it’s the right talent. The number one concern and pain point around outsourcing is that it sacrifices talent quality for flexibility. However, as American workers continue to engage more in independent work, that talent gap will continue to shrink.

Therefore, talent should be a key component of how you choose a partner – ensuring they will be able to provide quality talent – and a key factor that you and your team should monitor closely on an ongoing basis. The companies that figure out how to balance the right mix of full-time and outsourced talent, with a clear purpose and strategy and the right partner, will be positioned best to take advantage of the continuing shift in the market for talent.

What’s next?

At Mix, we specialize in talent and partner with life science companies to plan for, recruit, assess, optimize, scale, and develop top talent in whatever way best aligns with your business and people strategies.

And now, our Mix CTO team provides organizations with a flexible solution to rapidly access top talent spanning pre-commercial, medical affairs, commercial, and sales organizations along with contingent talent augmentation for growing companies.

If you want to chat with me or someone at Mix about how we can help you align your talent strategy with your business strategy, there’s no obligation, and we’re happy to chat. Get in touch today.

About the Author

Pete Vasquez

Director of Operations

Pete brings 17 years of broad-based life sciences experience across pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer products in commercial sales operations, training, market access, and workforce planning, and can advise clients on a wide range of commercialization areas and go-to-market strategies. He has stood up more than 40 outsourced teams and thousands of contract and outsourced workers across verticals, therapeutic areas, and team types. He spent years doing it as a client, telling partners how to be better, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is to be a better partner for his clients.

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