Common Mistakes to Avoid When choosing a Biotech Consultant

There’s no doubt that a biotech or pharmaceutical consultant could be a very helpful addition to your team. Whether you’re looking for someone to assist with a one-off project, or someone to support you for the longer-term, a consultant’s knowledge and expertise can be invaluable. However, consultants don’t come cheap (though you do get what you pay for) – so it’s critical that you make the right choice, right from the beginning. Here’s how to do that without making the kinds of mistakes many companies unfortunately do.

First and foremost, you need to be very clear about what you need from a consultant if you’re going to hire the right one. For example, do you need someone to take a problem off your hands and deal with it completely, or do you want someone to guide you through an issue step by step? Do you want someone to see you through a short-term resourcing issue, or do you need someone to take ownership for improving your long-term capabilities? Knowing the answers to these questions, right from the beginning, will ensure you’re recruiting the right consultant as it will focus your list of must-have requirements.

Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll need to start assessing who lives up to the claims they’re making. For example, if you need help with commercial issues, can the consultant you choose help with more than just operational management, for example? If you’re in need of someone who can guide you through commercial planning and execution as well as operational management, they may be a better choice than someone who’s knowledge base is a little too narrow for your needs.

However, don’t be tempted to work with a consultant who claims to know absolutely everything about everything. Experienced consultants are likely to have a great deal of knowledge to draw upon, but it’s unlikely that the same individual who can assist you with issues relating to medical imaging (for example) can also dive deeply into asset scouting, valuations and portfolio management.

Instead, you tend only to get this kind of breadth of knowledge at a biotech or pharmaceutical consultancy firm, where a group of consultants come together to form a team that can offer a rounded service. For that reason, a consultancy firm who offer a range of services such as Alacrita is often a far safer choice than a solo consultant acting on their own – especially if you need to support a variety of biotech or pharmaceutical matters.

Finally, don’t be tempted to choose a consultant who’s freshly minted. They may have the qualifications on paper (something you should certainly ask to see regardless of who you choose), and perhaps even pitch themselves as a cheaper option, but experience counts for a lot in in the life sciences industry. You’ll benefit most from a consultant who has expertise in their specialism as well as strong commercial pragmatism, and it’s always a good idea to choose someone who has a wealth of case studies and testimonials to back them up.

Ultimately, if you’ve chosen to spend money on a consultant to assess presentations, review reports and make sound decisions, you don’t want to find yourself shepherding the project on your consultant’s behalf. That’s their job, and as a result it tends to require the involvement of consultants who have been in the industry for a number of years. So, choose a consultancy firm (or an independent consultant) after considering all the factors above – you’ll be glad you did.

Author: Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles by others on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to