How the Right Metrics Enable You to Develop World-Class Sponsor-CRO Relationships with Linda Sullivan, Steve Crow, and Keith Dorricott
Can metrics play a crucial oversight role in establishing an effective and efficient relationship between sponsors and CROs? That’s one of the important issues discussed in Steve Crow’s and Keith Dorricott’s interview with Linda Sullivan, MBA, Executive Director of WCG’s Metric Champion Consortium (MCC). Crow, Associate Director, Performance and Training, Clinical Operations at GW Pharmaceuticals (known as Greenwich Biosciences in the U.S.) explains that the growth of the company’s portfolio of studies led them to seek CRO services – which began their journey of establishing a core set of CRO metrics to assist with oversight. The organization joined MCC to learn about metrics and gain access to the metrics toolkits available to members. His advice to other sponsors in similar situations, “Don’t reinvent the wheel … MCC has the resources you need to get started”. He notes that it’s important to find a “common purpose” by focusing on the key questions you seek to answer rather than giving CROs a list of performance metrics. Opening the discussion with key performance questions that are important to your organization results in enthusiastic discussion, collaboration, and the removal of barriers, explains Crow. Keith Dorricott, a Lean Sigma Master Black Belt with extensive experience in process improvement at CROs, is now Director at Dorricott Metrics & Process Improvement Ltd in the UK, notes that metrics are only beneficial if they answer specific performance questions. Indeed, Sullivan says, that’s the basic approach MCC advocates by including key performance questions in the metric toolkits and implementation support tools available to MCC members. Finally, Dorricott and Sullivan point out, context is vital not only when selecting metrics but also paramount when reviewing results. Collaborators should remind themselves of why they’re looking at the data, what the key questions were, and what actions should be considered if performance does not meet expectations. The metrics should drive decisions and action. Otherwise, they note, they’re just looking at numbers on a dashboard.