CONVERGE BIOTECH : Wading through the crisis
The Covid-19 pandemic that swept through the world this year has been a global shock like no other, involving simultaneous disruptions to supply and demand. While infections, lockdowns, business closures and social distancing adversely impacted the supply; worsened economic prospects lead to a sharp decline in consumption and investment. Sinking economy, alarmingly high numbers of fatalities and other health concerns coupled with uncertainties of various types, have been at the top of the challenges that the world has grappled with.
Though, addressing the health concerns and finding viable solutions to it remained priority, the healthcare sector came face to face with many unforeseen challenges owing to extreme uncertainty about the duration, magnitude and impact of the pandemic. During these turbulent times, the pharmaceutical industry, which is always looked upon as a ray of hope, witnessed the darkest ever phase of its operation in the last few decades.
With strict enforcement of lockdown, there was a negligible patient footfall in the hospitals and OPD’s; adversely impacting the demand generation and resultant sales. Constrained intra and inter-state movement and limited availability of logistics, created an imbalance in the supply chain, making it difficult to cater to any latent demand effectively. Fluctuations in the production schedules and changing market dynamics further worsened the situation. Moreover, the infection being first of its kind coupled with lack of clarity about the treatment protocols, made it difficult for the pharmaceutical companies to realign their resources to market needs and respond in time to any surfaced demand. There was uncertainty all over. It was certainly a crisis situation for the pharmaceutical sector, which needed methods to adapt and evolve to this fundamental shift in the industry.
While many pharmaceutical organizations were struggling to run their operations in full swing and offer a superior experience to stakeholders and the end users, some organizations emerged strongly and used this as an opportunity to re-invent and re-define themselves. Converge Biotech, headquartered in Hyderabad, is one such organization that has demonstrated an exemplary performance while being innovative and agile in these turbulent times. Coming face to face with unprecedented times, the crisis was a learning curve for Team Converge, which gave it an opportunity to learn, evolve and transform itself.
“The last few months were probably the toughest ever for all of us in the pharmaceutical industry. Being part of the essential services, while it was necessary for us to respond to the market needs; we faced a tough time having a negligible revenue generation in Q1, while having all the operational expenses on. At this time, we were very unsure of what did future hold and what should be our crisis-management plan. But we adopted an agile approach to respond to these challenges and disruptions and redefined our business processes in order to continue our mission of being customer-centric and patient-centric”, remarks Arun Kumar Bijjala, MD Converge Biotech, in conversation with Ishika Sharma
Converge Biotech was quick in responding to changing market dynamics and adopted a three pronged approach – building operational resilience, adopting an agile methodology and enabling digital transformation. The core of everything remained employee centricity. Constant efforts were taken to build on new capabilities in order to mitigate the challenges associated with fast changing market dynamics. The first and foremost was to build operational excellence. While most companies were struggling to maintain their supply chains, Converge ensured that the drugs were available and accessible to all without any hurdles. The company re-assessed their supply chain strategies and footprints in order to make its operations more agile and resilient to disruption. “In the initial days of lockdown we did face some logistical challenges, but ensuring that our medicines reach our end consumers was our top priority. We hired commercial vehicles even for small packages, to ensure that the consignment was available in time”, adds Partha Roy Chowdhury, COO at Converge. The company also set up a crisis-response centre in order to appropriately manage and bring stability and respond efficiently to any unforeseen situation.
The next step was to augment the existing product portfolio in response to Covid-treatment needs. This was one of the most challenging tasks, as treatment protocols and molecules to be used were unclear. However, Converge was quick in responding to market needs and filled the product gap by adding new products like Vergiflu, Prabinex HD ,Methblu, Verginox, Prabinex, and Prabinex Z amongst others, which offered a viable option to Covid-treatment. The initiative helped company overcome the financial roadblocks that had hit during Q1. “Despite grappling with unforeseen challenges, we launched 8 new products during Q1-Q3, maintaining our commitment of offering innovative solutions to the patients. Abiding by recent medical advancements and treatment protocols, we also sourced products from the Covid-Care range”, commented Varun, Marketing Manager at Converge.
Treading an unconventional path, Converge converted most of its initiatives to digitally-enabled programs. The company deployed various digital and analytics tools, while automating most of its sales, marketing and training programs. The company frequently organized webinars for the medical community and paramedics, involving Subject Matter Experts from the Covid Care domain. Various training programs were also conducted for the internal sales and marketing teams to ensure that they stayed ahead of the learning curve. “Digital and analytics were major engines of acceleration for us. Using digital platforms to connect to our stakeholders and consumers ensured that we were in constant touch with them, despite the government restrictions; while ensuring the safety and well-being of our teams. The initiative has also helped us in shaping our workforce of the future”, informed Kiran, Head of Digital Marketing at Converge.
Apart from this, the organization took several measures which are worth mentioning and appreciating. When layoffs and cost-cutting were becoming industry norm, Converge took complete care to stay invested in its team, which has always been considered company’s strength. The team was not only provided with a thorough briefing on the safety measures and supplied with protective gears, but also provided with a Covid Insurance. Complying with motto of Safety First, the team was allowed digital meet and greet with all its stakeholders and clients, instead of meeting them physically. All this boosted the confidence of the team in the organization significantly, which stood strongly with the organization and extended their whole-hearted support through the thick and thin.
While the entire team of Converge has been very appreciative of the support that they have received from its internal team and external stakeholders – prescribers, distributors, end-consumers and industry peers; the organization deserves kudos for its well strategized crisis management, effectively addressing and mitigating the challenges; and taking steps to build an organization and workforce of the future.
Today, Converge has not only sustained the tough times but has also emerged strongly in the market place. Being quick in responding to the Covid-care needs and augmenting it with an innovative product portfolio, the organization matched its last year’s annual turnover by the end of Q3. With a robust product pipeline, meticulous planning, change in business processes, team expansion and an agile approach, Converge is optimistic of achieving a 40% growth this fiscal year. With its positive attitude to embrace the change, Converge is confident of making a strong mark in the ever-growing pharmaceutical industry.