NetSuite and BDO Digital Help Drive Innovation in Biopharmaceuticals

NetSuite and BDO Digital Help Drive Innovation in Biopharmaceuticals

As biotech and pharmaceutical organizations work toward product approval and commercialization, their finance teams need more sophisticated technology solutions. This is where an ERP solution becomes almost mandatory. After all, spreadsheets and disconnected systems are no way to manage the complex financial tracking and reporting necessary for efficiency and compliance. 

Lisa Henderson, Editorial Director of Pharmaceutical Executive, spoke with James Neal, Principal of the Enterprise Business Applications team at BDO Digital, and a BDO Digital pharmaceutical client about these challenges. Neal also shared his NetSuite implementation experiences at BDO and his knowledge on the key technology requirements that all growing biotech and pharmaceutical companies should be thinking about. 

This biopharmaceutical company is engaged in developing and commercializing anti-infective agents to treat serious infections. Its first commercial product has been approved in the United States, Canada and Europe to treat community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP). The company also recently licensed the US distribution rights for a drug from Merck and has another product in development for treating urinary tract infections. They are currently operating two Phase I clinical trials for one drug and Phase IV for a different therapy. 

The Challenge

Before implementing NetSuite, the biopharmaceutical company used Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage consolidations and eliminations due to having different accounting systems in its European and United States divisions. Accounting was done separately and outside of the system, using Excel to combine all accounting activities, budgeting and accruals quarterly. The team coordinated with external contract manufacturing organizations to help ensure timely data capture and tracking of inventory movement.  

As its first commercial drug entered the clinical trial phase, the company clearly needed an upgraded ERP system that allowed their finance team to work more efficiently. They wanted to implement a global solution to handle all entities’ accounting activities and simplify the reporting process before commercialization, while avoiding adopting an overly complex system. “With NetSuite, our processes are automated, so we’re able to use NetSuite to do consolidations and eliminations, for instance,” they say.

BDO Digital's Netsuite Implementation

The biopharmaceutical company reached out to Neal to find a right-sized solution. Their team of five opted for a phased approach, implementing NetSuite in their US entity a year before deploying it to the Europe division. Each implementation took between four to six months.  

Since the initial implementation of financials, the company has worked with BDO Digital to add additional modules to the system. The system has scaled to include supply chain, budgeting, expense reporting and other system upgrades, capturing and recording all inventory movements. NetSuite has grown with the client by accommodating evolving needs encountered in the drug development and commercialization journey. 

While a three-month implementation can be done, it can be disruptive. Four to six months is a more realistic and typical NetSuite time frame, according to Neal. Clients who are planning to include supply chain and GMP functionality, should plan for six- to nine-month deliveries. 

Collaborating for Continued Growth 

The biopharmaceutical client sees BDO Digital as a valued resource in the process. “We really value their consulting advice, and they always provide options when we encounter problems,” it says. “They’re extremely helpful when we’re deciding on system enhancements or upgrades. Because BDO Digital works with clients similar to us, they’re able to provide us with input on what has worked well for companies in a similar position.” 


Check out how BDO Digital helped biotechnology company, Dewpoint, gain visibility across disparate global systems.