Bold action required to secure world-class business services, says AstraZeneca CIO


Over 200 business services and outsourcing professionals gathered to hear Jon Kirby, CIO at AstraZeneca, talk about the journey he and his team have taken to transform business-critical information services at the global biopharmaceutical company. The event was hosted by PA Consulting Group’s Shared Services & Outsourcing practice, which has worked with AstraZeneca on this major project.

Jon Kirby told guests how his team had reached the decision that bold action was necessary to secure the world-class information services AstraZeneca needs to operate successfully. Kirby’s team, with the backing of AstraZeneca’s leadership, has recently implemented a multi-sourced solution for information services, giving the company access to best-in-class services in every area. The team has also developed a sophisticated ‘ecosystem’ to foster collaboration among the company’s new group of suppliers.

Kirby acknowledged the challenge of managing multiple suppliers, but insisted the opportunities that arose from a decisive change of approach far outweighed the risk of failing to act on problems associated with the company’s original single-supplier solution. He has proved to be right. With their new strategy, Kirby and his team have achieved a significant uplift in service performance, reduced costs and eliminated the risks associated with depending on a single supplier.

The ecosystem that sustains the new arrangement has been developed by AstraZeneca with expert support from PA Consulting Group. Ecosystems are one of the newest approaches to the challenge of service integration in a multi-sourced environment. The ecosystem sets up a network of relationships where suppliers and client are incentivised to collaborate with each other rather than to work in silos as they traditionally do. AstraZeneca has now appointed PA Consulting Group to act as ‘ecosystem arbiter’ to nurture the network and optimise service performance.

“When we decided to insource service management, we knew that getting the cultural fit between suppliers right would be essential to making the ecosystem work,” said Kirby. “We looked for suppliers who understood that the needs of the end users are paramount and were ready to work together to meet them.”

Mike Henley, PA shared services and outsourcing expert, commented: “What Jon and his team undertook was a really big, difficult project with significant risks. But fortune favours the brave, and they have succeeded in their determination to get the superior services AstraZeneca needs to compete and win in its market.”

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