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LNS Research attended Pilgrim Quality Solutions’ biennial Fusion user event in early April. The Fusion event is hosted every other year in Clearwater Beach, FL, and it provides a great chance to catch up with Pilgrim and its customer community. Sessions were delivered in a variety of formats over three days, including training (technical and regulatory), customer case study and Pilgrim strategy sessions.
A highlight of the event were the knowledge exchange sessions, as well as the interaction with Pilgrims and Pilgrim customers. Pilgrim has been aggressively updating its strategy over recent years, and these interactions provided an update on both Pilgrim’s strategy as well as a perspective on recent customer experiences.
Rick Lowrey joined Pilgrim as CEO in May of 2015, and he kicked off the conference by introducing Pilgrim’s new core value: Customer Intimacy. So what is Customer Intimacy? It means that Pilgrim is focused on providing “good product, and great service” with a single purpose – making customers personally successful. Customer Intimacy isn’t about a company-to-company relationship - one company making another successful - but rather a personal commitment of Pilgrims to individual customers with the expectation that corporate success for both sides will follow.
Makes sense. So how does this go beyond a slogan? Pilgrim has changed its organization and culture to enable Customer Intimacy. It built regional teams of sales and service so that the same people follow customers from pre-sales through deployment, and connected Cloud and Maintenance with these teams. Hiring criteria have also been re-evaluated, with a priority being placed on expertise in quality and regulatory compliance.
Customer Intimacy is clearly important to Pilgrim - Rick and company are betting that domain expertise re-organizing around the customer will drive a loud voice of the customer and increase success for all.
Life Science Focused
Historically, Pilgrim was an EQMS generalist that customized-to-order. This resulted in slow, customized deployments, unfocused R&D, and upgrade challenges.
The company has been working hard for several years to change this. It has made a number of changes in leadership positions, and the new leadership team has deployed new corporate, technology and deployment strategy.
As a part of this strategy, Pilgrim has targeted the needs of the Life Sciences industries, focusing R&D and services efforts primarily on life science use cases, configurations, and delivery.
This focus on Life Sciences was evident in the attendee list. 75% of customers in attendance were Life Sciences, as well as in the session topics. Deb Kacera, Pilgrim’s regulatory strategist, educated attendees on a variety of Quality Management updates including Risk Management, ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485: 2016. Customers and consultants communicated lessons learned on topics such as FDA Audits and FDA regulation of Combination Products.
Technology: Roadmap, Extensions and 30 Days to Validation
The Life Sciences focus was also evident in the R&D roadmap. Over the past several years Pilgrim has developed and deployed a new, flexible technology platform that is the foundation for its EQMS processes. The platform supports Out Of the Box (OOTB) workflows, products, and solutions that are highly configruable, as well as Cloud, Mobile, and Analytics. Updates to the platform, processes, and technology remains focused on Life Sciences at least over the next 12 months.
Pilgrim announced the release of SmartSolve QMS Extensions at Fusion. Extensions permit Pilgrim to support customer specific processes as an extension of the core SmartSolve platform. Pilgrim showcased Cardinal Health’s use of Extensions to successfully support its recall management process. Pilgrim also showcased its SmartStart program that uses a mix of Cloud deployment, OOTB solutions, and prepackaged services to launch a fully validated deployment in 30 calendar days. SmartStart services and timeline permit for several configuration iterations, as well as training and full validation documentation and execution in the 30-day window.
30 calendar days is an aggressive timeframe, but Pilgrim cited 8-10 companies that have already been through the program, all of whom made the 30-day target.
Pilgrim’s new strategy and core values are taking hold. The SmartStart program is an exemplar of Pilgrim’s new software development and deployment strategies, and aligns well with industry needs. Customers are positive, which can in part be attributed to new corporate strategy and values. Overall, Pilgrim has a robust strategy that it is executing well, and customer satisfaction was high with those in attendance.
Even with this progress, the customer community shared that to release upgrade challenges and deployment delays still occur. To be fair, the upgrade challenges seem to be primarily from older software versions when customization was common and before Pilgrim released its new platform. However, the release of SmartSolve QMS Extensions may add complexity to future upgrades. Pilgrim should carefully set internal and external expectations for the use and upgrade-ability of Extensions, and advocate the use of its OOTB configurations where possible.
Pilgrim has made great strides in recent years. Its leadership, technology, service and culture refresh are bearing fruit. We’re interested to see these changes impact customer intimacy, success for its customers, and ultimately its position in the marketplace.
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