In 2015, it was announced that Covance would sell or close the Alnwick R&D facility, potentially resulting in over 120 job losses and a significant impact on the North East’s economy. However, following the buy-out by Ian and Paul in February 2016, the site and resulting company – now named ARCINOVA – will remain open for business while saving 50 jobs.
Before being owned by ARCINOVA and previously Covance, the site was operated by a French pharmaceutical company – Sanofi – until 2010. As such, the site’s IT infrastructure and systems posed a challenge to the new owners as it was operating a mix of Sanofi and Covance systems, which were intrinsically linked to Covance’s global IT infrastructure and services. Post-acquisition, the systems, data and IT operations had to be appropriately transferred and segregated from Covance’s network with minimal business interruption.
Ian and Paul approached Perfect Image to help them understand the complexity of the IT systems they would inherit as part of the due diligence work they were performing during the purchase of the site. This consultancy piece required Perfect Image to work with Covance to deliver a transition plan and budget that would result in the new ARCINOVA company having an appropriate, independent IT system that met all business and regulatory requirements. Crucially everything had to be delivered to meet the GxP guidelines and regulations. The scope of the work included all network, hardware, software and data aspects. Perfect Image was then engaged to deliver this transition plan and provide ongoing support of the new systems.
A major challenge of this brief was to consider the many stakeholders and interested parties in the arrangement. After all, ARCINOVA has bought the assets of the old Covance site, not its data – which of course, given the nature of the business, contained highly sensitive information on products and services in development that could give competitors a competitive edge within the pharma market.
Also, as part of the GxP environment that ARCINOVA operates in, all changes to laboratory related systems required them to be revalidated before they could be used and this increased the complexity and timescale required for the transition work as well as making it harder to minimise business disruption.
In order to understand the complexities of the IT systems ARCINOVA would inherit, the immediate implications and potential impact on the future, Perfect Image was given an initial time frame of two weeks to work with the owners of the site, Covance. In collaboration with two of its UK teams and one US-based team, Perfect Image employed the expertise of a number of its staff from across its Managed Services, Business Solutions and Business Intelligence teams. Elements to consider for systems going forward included licensing, applications, hardware, networks, security and, above all, GxP compliance – the teams at Covance had to approve all of the investigative work at each stage of the project.
This two week period of work got ARCINOVA to a position where, at a high level, they could understand the complexity and scope of the systems they were inheriting. Furthermore, within the two weeks allocated to understand the state of affairs, Perfect Image had also delivered a costed plan for transitioning the existing IT systems away from Covance’s network and shaping them to meet ARCINOVA’s ongoing requirements post-acquisition.
Following the findings of the research phase and approval of the high level plans to separate systems from Covance and make them fit for purpose for ARCINOVA, a Transition Service Agreement (TSA) was put in place to cover a period of six months once the acquisition was complete. This would enable Covance to repatriate its data off the systems, which were now owned by ARCINOVA, to its own centrally held systems in the US and across other sites.
For ARCINOVA to get the right-sized systems it needed to run its operations efficiently, it invested a six-figure sum into the TSA project for Perfect Image to procure new systems, migrate those that were to be retained and integrate them in to a cohesive whole. All of this had to be done in parallel with Covance’s data migration whilst ensuring security, compliance and business continuity requirements were met.
Perfect Image has been able to identify and comprehend a highly complex IT situation, understand the sensitivities of the circumstances, and effectively liaise between different stakeholders and interested parties to come to a mutual agreement that benefits both businesses – ARCINOVA and Covance – in legal, financial and commercially sensitive terms.
Through a consultative process, Perfect Image has been able to provide ARCINOVA with a best-value solution to include software, hardware networks and support with appropriate levels of security and GxP compliance, that is fit for purpose at this point in time, but also sufficiently flexible that it can be updated for the future as the company grows.
- A consultative process with all stakeholders, getting to understand the significant complexities of the circumstances, formulating a suitable way forward and enabling Ian and Paul to procure the Alnwick site knowing their exposure to remedial IT costs. The overall pre-acquisition IT budget, provided rapidly by Perfect Image in the face of many unknowns, proved to be very close to the final outcome.
- A dedicated project manager liaising with all interested parties to bring about an agreeable solution for all. The collaborative work between Perfect Image, ARCINOVA and Covance during the TSA period meant deadlines and budgets were met in a challenging environment.
- An expert team working together across different departments at Perfect Image to recommend and implement an end-to-end service covering all aspects of the site’s IT from applications and data to networks leading to a joined-up, thought through solution that delighted the ARCINOVA users.
- All systems and services were delivered to meet the complexities of the GxP environment with Perfect Image ensuring that the necessary validation and documentation was in place for all the IT systems.
- Intelligent use of IT to create a best-value and right-sized solution for the new company that is fit for purpose and also capable of meeting future demands.