2015 CAE Recipient Profile - Algorithme Pharma

Founded in 1992 by a small team of researchers from the pharmacology department of the Université de Montréal, Algorithme Pharma, an Altasciences company, is the largest privately held Québec-owned organization specializing in clinical research services for the international pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and generic drug industries. We conduct clinical trials and offer all related support services, including large and small molecule Bioanalysis, Data Management, Biostatistics, Regulatory Support, Clinical Pharmacology and Project Management.

Our goal is to provide the best quality early stage clinical development services, with a focus on customer service. We achieve this by continuously looking for ways to improve our customer relationships and range of services, and by creating an environment that provides value for our customers, respect for our participants, returns for our shareholders and growth for our employees. After over 20 years in business, we conduct over 200 clinical trials annually in Phase I/IIa, Bioequivalence and Bioanalysis (preclinical and Phase I to Phase IV), with the participation of over 5,000 trial participants. Today, our team is made up of close to 500 professionals from the medical and scientific fields, who work together to achieve a common goal: to contribute to the advancement of pharmaceutical science.

The decision for us to apply for the Grands Prix québécois de la qualité (GPQQ) award in 2014 (an award that acknowledges private companies and government agencies in Quebec that have instituted rigorous quality-improvement initiatives for all aspects of their operations, and with exceptional results) was mainly for the purpose of undergoing an internal review of our quality processes using a structured and recognized methodology.

In 2010, we had underwent a management change, brought in a new CEO, and implemented an annual strategic plan along with a continuous improvement program. The initial focus of our continuous improvement program was specific to key customer facing deliverables, with some quick and significant hits to get the momentum going. This was followed by launching a training program for all managers and senior managers to help address other immediate business needs. We felt that the GPQQ exercise would be a relevant next step, as it would enable us to determine where our next focus should be by identifying our remaining weaknesses.

We were very pleased to be selected for the next phase of the GPQQ process, and to have a team of external experienced auditors apply a recognized methodology to assess our organization. Being awarded the GPQQ prize was unexpected, and very welcome.

Following the structure and methodology outline by the GPQQ, the team developing the submission produced a report outlining the weaknesses they had noted during the preparation process; these findings aligned very closely with those of the GPQQ auditors.  Since the receipt of the prize and audit report in November 2014, we have been working to address the two main areas of weakness that were identified: our indicator results and the way we use our manpower.

We have been working with KPIs over the past five years, but they were used primarily by senior management. In order to implement a culture that is truly fact based, it was decided to implement a system of indicators that aligns with the objectives set out in the annual strategic plan, in line with the main core values of the company: Customer Service, Quality and Performance. The indicators all have targets, either financially driven (from the annual budget), or based on company or industry standards, and are available for all operational areas at the senior management, management, and process (floor) level. The indicator initiative addresses the weakness observed when it comes to our results, by creating a fact based management culture, by setting targets and measuring against them. Progress or challenges were made immediately visible; the process indicators are posted across the company for all staff to see. The management and senior management indicators, which are derived from the process indicators, are reviewed on a monthly basis. Actions are taken based on the results of the indicators.  

We also recognized that we need to better engage our employee base in various aspects of our company, including more discussions around results and their ideas to address improvement opportunities. The employee satisfaction survey had already been redesigned since the submission, and an improved response rate was seen in the October 2014 edition. The employee survey findings have also launched several employee based initiatives for improvement for 2015. Going forward, the continuous improvement team will further engage employees to provide ideas and input. 

Since the submission of the file to the GPQQ in the spring of 2014, Altasciences has continued to grow with the opening of a new site in Fargo, North Dakota, in January 2015. Algorithme Pharma USA provides an excellent U.S. based facility to perform quality bioequivalence and bioavailability trials, and represents an extension of Algorithme Pharma.