Pharmaceuticals is one of the most impactful industries in Bangladesh with a market size of USD 2 Billion that is growing at a rate of 30%. There are around 280 pharmaceuticals in Bangladesh and 80% of their workforce is related to field operation. Their responsibilities can be broadly divided in two categories: Sales and Medical Marketing. This industry is unique in the sense that the product is not marketed directly to consumers, rather to the prescribers or health care professionals. The distributed nature of these activities creates some unique challenges for organizations that has been hard to resolve till now. But with advancement of smartphones, 3G network and data analytics, it is now finally possible to overcome these issues in a scalable way. FieldForce, a CRM and visit log manager for field representatives, is doing just that.
In this post we will take a look around the challenges and will present a landscape about how adopting FieldForce can help to solve or reduce these issues.
Challenge #1: Creating visit plans effectively and making sure they are being followed
Field representatives are required to maintain direct relationship with a large pool of doctors and chemists. Therefore, it is imperative for them to set a daily task plan before heading out to work. Without a plan, they might end up wasting couple of hours for an unsuccessful call. Also, at times field representatives forget to perform a visit only because they did not set the schedule cautiously. These problems add up to the financial and operational burden to the organization.
Traditionally, representatives finalize their plans at the beginning of the day with their managers usually in the office or a previously set meeting point (i.e. outside of a hospital). They finalize their visit plans, take notes and start their work. This approach has couple of problems:
- The representatives need physical presence with their managers to set the daily plan. It reduces their work hours.
- These plans are usually noted with pens and papers. They need to keep the notes till they submit their reports.
- Central management can not know what is going on till the report is submitted. If anything goes wrong that’ll need weeks to get resolved.
Another problem is to make sure that visits are done according to the plans. In Bangladesh, people mostly follow up by phone or in person. Recently some companies have adopted the use of different instant messaging services like WhatsApp or Viber to keep in sync with their field agents. But as the number of people grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of everyone using calls / instant messaging channels.
How FieldForce solves visit planning and follow ups
FieldForce provides iOS and Android based mobile applications which allows field agents to create weekly / daily visit plans from anywhere. These plans are instantly shared with their respective line managers and central authority. Plans are backed up in cloud so there is no pen and paper involved and no way to lost them. Finally FieldForce ensures that visit reports can only be submitted for previously planned visits which encourage them to stick to the plan all the time.
Challenge #2: Making sure that the visit actually happened
This problem is a bit more critical because there is no foolproof way to track whether the reported visit actually happened. Some organizations attempted to solve this issue by taking a signature from the respective contact (i.e. Doctor). But as the doctors or health care professionals are extremely busy, it is not always possible to ask for a signature in a practical way. Also research shows that, continuous tracking hampers not only the moral of an employee but also effectiveness of his tasks.
At the same time, from an organizational perspective it is very important to track this metric because it directly affects the effectivity of the field operation. Also the representatives are incentivized based on their performance, so having false report will not reflect their performance properly.
How FieldForce solves visit tracking
Instead of continuous tracking, FieldForce follow a statistical approach to find out the probability of a representative falsifying visit reports. FieldForce keep note of the location of a doctor and planned visit time each time a plan is created. It also logs the actual visit time and location in the background. Finally it calculates the average deviation of actual and planned visit time and location. If someone regularly fabricates their visit logs the deviation would be significant and it’ll be possible to find out who is doing that.
Challenge #3: Getting accurate visit reports quickly
Pen and paper based reporting are often erroneous because they are done manually. The error may increase during the data entry phase or report tabulation. It also takes time for new team members to adopt the system. And finally it takes time to reach the report to management after all the processing.
Manual data entry is not the only obstructing factor in generating accurate visit reports. The field representatives are used to work till late night and often their daily reporting is done at late night. At the end of a busy day, it is easy to forget the nitty gritty of their visits.
How FieldForce helps to deliver accurate visit logs without delay
FieldForce supports visit report submission using digital forms. These forms often restrict the possible inputs to valid entries only by using dropdowns and checkboxes. Also it checks for mandatory fields so that users can not submit incomplete reports. Finally visit logs are available for review to the managers as soon as they are submitted.
Challenge #4: Maintaining an up to date contact list
Pharmaceutical companies often creates some operational zones and assign their field representatives there. In each zone or area, they have to maintain a contact list and need to visit them periodically. This contact list often grows to 150 ~ 200 persons which is not easy to keep track without a proper system. As a result the following issues arise:
- It is difficult to decide whom to visit in a given market or route
- Who should be visited multiple times in a given month
- How to maintain additions or removals in a contact list
- How to make sure that absent contact doesn’t affect representative KPIs
How FieldForce helps maintain the list
Users can maintain a digital contact list with additional information like their specialization, industry influence, brand affinity etc. This list is searchable, so it is very easy to isolate for example the pediatricians in Dhanmondi area. They can add / remove / disable the contacts with approval of their line managers. It is also possible to find all the previous visit logs for one particular contact in couple of seconds.
Challenge #5: Reporting and Individual KPI Tracking
Traditional reporting approach does not allow managers to receive instant KPI updates of field agents. Preparing KPI reports using excel or other tools is also a headache for their representatives. It takes a lot of valuable time and energy that could be better invested in field visits. Apart from business KPIs, each individual field agent has some targets. As they are incentivized based on these targets, calculating them properly is also very important.
How FieldForce does KPI Reporting
FieldForce is integrated with Meghdut’s flagship analytics service and can generate these KPI instantly over any ranges of data point. As visit reports are collected instantly using internet the KPIs are always updated in FieldForce for any regions or representatives.
Consumer Healthcare Division of GSK Bangladesh, one of the globally reputed pharmaceuticals, have adopted FieldForce to automate the Field Operation Management. A survey has been conducted among their Marketing Managers and Field Representatives regarding the use of FieldForce and its impact on their job performance.
Some of the significant findings of the survey are mentioned below:
- Daily on average field representatives can save 30-60 minutes on task planning which is about 10% of their work hour.
- On average each field representative can do 30-40 more calls monthly using FieldForce.
- Each field representatives can save more than an hour for call reporting purpose using FieldForce.
- 98% of the survey respondents believe that, FieldForce ensures better collaboration among the marketing team members.
- Each field representative has claimed to add 35 new contacts on average after they started using FieldForce
Field Operation is the major driving force behind the growth of a pharmaceutical company. If the field agents fails to perform up to their capacity and the managers can not track their performance, it can be devastating for a company's profitability. This is why pharmaceuticals companies must automate its medical marketing process and ensure increased efficiency and trackability. An efficient process does not only mean better profitability but also it means staying ahead of the competition.
Which problems are you facing while managing your field operation? Tell us about it and we will try to recommend you effective solution using our expertise. To know more about FieldForce or to reach us please visit our site: fieldforce.meghdut.io.