Center For Breakthrough Medicines (CBM) Strengthens Capabilities To Meet Demand

as the Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM)a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) focused on addressing the challenges associated with advanced manufacturing therapies, continues its rapid growth, the organization wanted to install an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to support its continued expansion and provide the highest level of responsive service to clients.

CBM’s Chief Executive Officer, Joerg Ahlgrimm pointed to the rapid growth CBM is currently undergoing with 700,000 square feet of ongoing build as one reason for the need for a robust ERP. This year, CBM selected SAP Business ByDesign, as a GMP validated system that covers the organization’s finances, client project management, supply chain planning, logistics, warehousing, manufacturing, and quality and procurement.

“We decided we needed to put in the right foundational platforms as early as possible,” Ahlgrimm said. In order to put that system in place as hassle-free as possible, CBM turned to Utah-based Navigator Business Solutions to support their efforts. “Navigator helped us do this the right way.”

Audrey Greenberg, Co-founder of CBM, agreed, saying that Navigator’s knowledge of cloud-based systems was of utmost importance to CBM when it was shopping around for implementation partners.

“We were looking for a group that’s responsive, competent and accommodating,” Greenberg said of their decision to hire Navigator. “They have the experience and track record of helping clients implement the platform.”

CBM, which officially launched in 2020, began looking for an ERP system that same year. Ahlgrimm said the decision to do so was made early in order to support the vision of providing end-to-end production services for cell and gene therapy companies to get life-saving medicines to patients faster. Navigator Business Solutions was quickly tapped to fill the role of implementation partner and worked with CBM throughout the process of selecting and executing the ERP. That role was critical as an ERP provides the backbone and foundation for both financial transactions and the supply chain systems of CBM.

Steve Gwynn, director of enterprise systems at CBM, was brought in to the CBM family in 2020 to drive the search and implementation of the ERP.

“We needed a GMP validated system to support regulated manufacturing and development processes. We also needed something that could fit our CDMO business and financial needs,” he said.

One of the directives Gwynn was given was to ensure that the ERP selected was easy to use by the end user, because most CBM employees would be using the system in one way or another. Another necessity was that the ERP be a menu-driven, cloud-based system. SAP Business ByDesign, “an out of the box, fully-integrated system,” fit that bill, he said.

In addition to the ERP, Gwynn said CBM needed an implementation partner who would work “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the organization, a “partner for the long term who could grow with us and support our current and future needs.” He and the CBM team quickly settled upon Navigator because, like SAP, they “fit the bill.”

“They were extremely knowledgeable, and we knew they could solve our issues,” he said.

Throughout the implementation process, Gwynn said Navigator provided CBM with a structured and “easily digestible” training vignettes on the functions of SAP Business ByDesign. It made for an easy understanding of the system and also allowed for quick feedback from CBM’s teams. All of the details associated with training were coordinated by Navigator and the company provided standard operating procedures for training purposes

“That’s one of the things that we really liked about their structure, they provided a useful solution for their customers,” Gwynn said.

Another key building block in the relationship with Navigator was the company offered to have an onsite project manager for CBM. Although Navigator’s headquarters is in Utah, they had a Boston-based consultant who spent weeks in Philadelphia working side by side with CBM. Having that personal touch was critical. Gwynn noted that there are significant complexities associated with the implementation of ERPs and it was essential to have Navigator alongside due to their “intricate knowledge of the system.”

With Navigator by their side, CBM’s ERP was up and running within 10 weeks, an impressive feat considering the complexity of the situation. Gwynn noted that in previous roles implementing ERPs, the timeline was always longer and included several hiccups. But, with Navigator, that wasn’t the case due to that company’s structured approach that included numerous worksheets and checklists.

Implementation began in February 2021. The first phase, which focused on the financial processes, was completed within seven weeks. The second phase, which focused on supply chain planning, warehousing, logistics, manufacturing and quality, began shortly thereafter and was completed within the next seven months.

“ERP systems are not known for going in quickly and effectively. On the front it seems simple…. But it’s very complex because there are so many integrated areas. If you don’t do it right, it can fall apart quickly,” he said. “We needed to be able to do this right the first time. With Navigator’s expertise, it worked out well.”

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