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Using Workspaces to accelerate R&D programs

Outsourcing an R&D project can be hard. Outsourcing a full R&D program is even harder.

R&D programs consist of multiple projects and involve multiple teams. Managing these programs can be challenging for many reasons. 

R&D program managers have to:

  • Coordinate with both internal and external teams across all those projects
  • Manage vendor relationships and track their performance
  • Make decisions for resource allocation and planning 
  • Ensure projects are delivered on time and within budget
  • Support the program’s compliance and regulatory filing needs 

To streamline this process, we launched Workspaces. Workspaces enable R&D Program managers to manage all outsourced projects from a central location.


Challenge: Existing processes to manage outsourced R&D programs are time-consuming and manual

Purchasing and project management needs can make it difficult to manage outsourced R&D programs.

In traditional e-procurement platforms, outsourced R&D orders associated with multiple R&D programs may exist in a single unsorted environment (Figure 1). In this example, outsourced service orders for a company’s Melanoma program and Lymphoma program are all visible to the same group of stakeholders. Program managers often sort these projects manually, routing them to the appropriate stakeholders for visibility and approval.

Furthermore, coordinating across each program’s projects is challenging as each project will have its own communication channel. Program managers need to separately keep track of each individual project across various communication channels, making it difficult to coordinate key activities and maintain the necessary visibility.

These manual processes may introduce errors and delays that slow down the discovery and development of potentially life-saving therapies.

Without workspaces for programs Figure 1
Figure 1. Program Managers lack an easy way to manage the outsourced projects that are related to a given R&D program. In this example, all outsourced R&D projects are recorded in a single e-procurement and/or project management environment, but there is no central way to coordinate across related projects.


Solution:  Workspaces on Science Exchange streamline management of outsourced R&D Programs  

To streamline outsourcing for R&D programs, we launched “Workspaces.” Workspaces are a new way of organizing outsourced R&D, making it easier for our customers to manage smaller groups of their users and their projects. 

For example, an Enterprise can organize outsourced projects for their Melanoma program into one Workspace, with all projects supporting their Lymphoma program organized into another one (Figure 2). Individual researchers have access only to those workspaces corresponding to projects they own. In this example, some researchers own projects in more than one R&D program, and therefore are members of both workspaces.

Features and benefits of Workspaces for R&D Programs:

  • Workspaces group all outsourced projects for an R&D program into a central location, making it easier to manage purchasing, program planning, and coordination activities.  
  • Robust access controls allow key stakeholders to oversee and support projects in a workspace specific to a particular R&D program, while individual workspace members have access limited to the projects they own.
  • Workspaces are designed to be flexible and can adapt to R&D program structures specific to each organization. Users can be in multiple R&D program Workspaces, and can have different roles across Workspaces, reflecting the real-life needs of outsourcing complex R&D services.
Science Exchange workspaces outsourced research programs Figure 2
Figure 2. “Workspaces” on Science Exchange streamline the R&D outsourcing process for multiple stakeholders. Workspaces enable Enterprises to easily organize outsourced projects across R&D programs and control access by appropriate stakeholders. A new role on Science Exchange is the “Workspace Manager.” Workspace Managers can oversee and manage projects within their Workspace, while individual researchers have access to the projects they own.


Workspaces for R&D programs benefit multiple user types

  1. R&D Leadership = Enterprise Administrators on Science Exchange. Enterprise Administrators create different Workspaces for each R&D program. They can add users to Workspaces, with the manager of each R&D program as a Workspace Manager.
Figure 3 workpace switcher
Figure 3. Enterprise Administrators can easily navigate between Workspaces to view outsourced projects for different R&D programs.

2. Individual researcher = Workspace Member on Science Exchange. Researchers can be given access to a Program’s Workspace. New requests created by researchers are assigned to their Workspace, visible to the corresponding Workspace Managers.

Figure 4 start request in workspace
Figure 4. A user adds a new request to their R&D program.

3. R&D Program Manager = Workspace Manager on Science Exchange. Workspace Managers can view and manage all projects in their Workspace. This new role supports the R&D Program Manager’s need to centrally oversee and coordinate across projects for their Program (Figure 5).

Figure 5 pending PO request
Figure 5. R&D Program Managers can centrally view and manage outsourced projects from their Program’s Workspace. In this example, the Melanoma Workspace contains all projects associated with two assets (AA-761 and AA-778) in the Melanoma R&D Program at Client A. Projects are linked to each asset via internal reference number. The Melanoma Program Manager can review the highlighted request and support the researcher in obtaining a PO.

As shown in Figure 5, Workspaces make it easier for Program Managers to accomplish key activities, such as: 

  • Supporting approval workflows. R&D Program Managers can view details of each order within a workspace and then support researchers in obtaining approval for purchase orders in adherence to internal processes.
  • Coordinating across interdependent projects. Workspaces provide a clear view of all outsourced projects within a program, making it easier to manage project dependencies.
  • Allocating resources. With the increased visibility across related projects within a workspace, R&D Program Managers can start requesting quotes from providers for follow-on projects based on the progress of in-flight projects and coordinating with internal teams to secure early budget approval. This could accelerate program timelines. 
  • Tracking deliverables. R&D Program Managers are responsible for ensuring that providers complete work in line with expected timelines. Workspaces make it easy for Program Managers to track progress of all in-flight work within the workspace and support project owners in checking in on delayed providers. 
  • Submitting regulatory filings. As a Workspace Manager, they can view the details of any outsourced project within their R&D program and download a PDF of the complete order history in support of regulatory submissions requiring an audit trail.

Managing budgets. Workspaces can be used in conjunction with Science Exchange’s budget management capabilities to further streamline how an organization outsources R&D programs (Figure 6). These capabilities allow for on-platform approvals and spend reporting to improve spend management.

Figure 6 workspaces and budgets
Figure 6. Science Exchange budget tracking is structured, transparent, and consistent; analytics are accessible by Science Exchange Enterprise Administrators.


The Workspaces solution on Science Exchange is a flexible new way for Enterprises to streamline R&D outsourcing processes. The examples above show how Workspaces can transform the way organizations manage outsourced R&D programs.

Combined with the right R&D strategy, our Workspaces solution can help organizations:

  • Accelerate the pace of research programs
  • Ensure high quality scientific research
  • Simplify adherence to governance requirements

Get personalized tips on using the Workspaces feature set for your team — email [email protected].


Jay Patel

Director, Product Management

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