Running an Optimal Supply chain within the Pharma Industry



60% of pharma companies are in the process of updating their talent sourcing, with an additional 27% considering changes to their talent strategies within the upcoming year.

With the ever-changing pharma industry – new product launches, mergers and acquisitions, digital transformation, and changing consumer buying behaviours – talent plays an even more critical role than in other industries. A majority of pharma executives say talent plays a top role in the success or failure of their business and products to the market.

Our client – a multinational pharmaceutical holding company, and the largest drug company in Africa – had recently gone through several key mergers and acquisitions which increased the suppliers within their talent supply chain. The management of this supply chain was becoming burdensome to the organisation and its teams.

Pontoon proposed our MSP solution to the client, giving them visibility and cost control across their growing supply chain, and to ultimately deliver the high-level skill sets they needed to drive the organisation forward.

Our Approach


When Pontoon implemented the first generation MSP in October 2013 (€17M in annual spend managed) with our client there were 80 suppliers filling the talent needs across the business. After an in-depth analysis by the team it was quickly realised that there were varying levels of cost and performance across the supply chain.

Pontoons team of supply chain experts worked closely with the client to bring them along the supply chain transformation journey and optimisation over the next 2 years.

Some key differentiators that the Pontoon team implemented included:

  • A tiering structure across the supply chain that broke down the supply chain into different competency areas and was based on levels of performance
  • A blue collar Master Vendor solution where our sister brand, Adecco General Staffing, was brought in to manage and fill all blue collar roles at the client
  • A new talent pool of freelancers by bringing in two suppliers that focused on Independent Contractors and filled talent and skills gaps across the client program
  • A program-wide rate card, that was benchmarked against the pharma market
  • Standard supplier scorecards and QBR’s as well as supplier summits to continuously engage and create efficiencies across the supplier ecosystem

With the above enhancements to the supply chain, Pontoon was able to optimise the once 80 suppliers down to 50 fully engaged and performing suppliers.

The work can’t stop there – to ensure we keep our supply chain ahead of market changes – especially given 80% of the roles hired at the client are engineers, our team constantly “pulse-checks” the market and brings in specialty suppliers within the engineering and pharma space to fill the gaps that might appear across the programs supply

Communication with both the client stakeholders and the supply chain have been critical to ensure engagement and performance across the program especially while going through this optimisation and transformation.

Client Results


Pontoon’s efforts and transformation of the supply chain have allowed for 100% fill-rate of requisitions coming from the client – including once hard-to-fill roles. The added benefit of Pontoon’s work over the last several years is highlighted in the below reference from one of our suppliers:

The last couple of years I personally think that all three parties (End Customer – MSP – Supplier) have proven that working together eventually brought us more as we all thought in the beginning.

The keys to success in this case were:

  • Know who your “end” customer is and know what the needs
  • Always look for a solution instead communicate what is not possible
  • An open and transparent communication, regarding goals, needs, possibilities, etc. between all three parties
  • But most important, all three parties trusted each other and granted each other the success

-Michael Janssen, Account Manager SPIE Maintenance