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Case study: Irish Medicines Board

SoftCo has delivered a product that has transformed the operations of the Irish Medicines Board - providing transparency and ownership through its innovative use of workflow technology

Irish Medicines Board

When it comes to safeguarding public health, one organisation providing some of the most important front-line protection is the busy Irish Medicines Board (IMB). The IMB processes over 10,000 applications associated with human medicines each year. Applications for medicinal products are assessed in terms of their quality, safety and efficacy. In a drive to work more effectively, the IMB undertook a major business re-engineering project two years ago. The project also included an overhaul of the technology that supports the organisation's complex application processes.

Following a study on the feasibility and potential benefits of introducing workflow, the Irish Medicines Board appointed IBM and SoftCo to deliver on its twin requirements of streamlined business processes coupled with an effective technology solution.

Suzanne McDonald, IT & Change Management Director at the Irish Medicines Board, said the project has been a genuine success. "The solution has been highly successful and entirely focussed on the business needs of the organisation," she said. "SoftCo has delivered a product that has transformed the operations of the Irish Medicines Board - providing transparency and ownership through its innovative use of workflow technology."

Mapping the IMB decision-making process to an intelligent workflow solution

Working closely with the business analysts at IBM and key Irish Medicines Board personnel, SoftCo developed a workflow management system known as NIMBUS: the New Irish Medicines Board User System. SoftCo's key goal was to assist the organisation to quickly and effectively process the thousands of human medicine applications it receives annually. Through the reengineering process a generic application process was identified that provides the foundation on which the workflow system is built.

SoftCo has successfully translated a relatively complex business environment into a system that has quickly become part of everyday life at the IMB

Irish Medicines Board

Using the Microsoft .NET platform and its own proven workflow technology, SoftCo engineered the NIMBUS workflow system. In late 2003 the IMB implemented SoftCo Workflow - delivering an end-to end system that has brought substantial benefits in terms of streamlining the approval process and gaining improved visibility of the organisational workload.

"The SoftCo workflow was the most rapidly deployed solution I have seen in over 15 years of implementing technology projects," says Kevin Horan, Project Manager for the Irish Medicines Board. "SoftCo has successfully translated a relatively complex business environment into a system that has quickly become part of everyday life at the IMB."

Much of the success of the project can be attributed to the combined efforts of IBM, SoftCo and the Irish Medicines Board staff who worked closely together over a twelve month period to design the NIMBUS product.

Using the new system, the scheduling and management of work is greatly enhanced - with integration to Microsoft products, document management systems and other relevant legacy database applications. This functionality combined with mechanisms to allocate work based on specialist topics and existing workload makes the SoftCo Workflow a very powerful business tool. Improved management reporting operating in a 'real-time' environment delivers information proactively rather than reactively.

The partnership approach adopted by IMB and SoftCo has proven very successful

Irish Medicines Board

"The introduction of the Nimbus Workflow has provided the IMB with the opportunity to improve both the underlying business process and the organisational structure," says Caitriona Diviney, Workflow Manager at the Irish Medicines Board. "Following its implementation, it has also provided us with the opportunity to measure and analyse the execution of our processes so that continuous improvements can be made. The tools and data available within Nimbus have improved our ability to react quickly to rapidly changing business and regulatory requirements, with the overall effect of a significant increase in productivity."

SoftCo and IMB: a fruitful relationship for streamlined business processes

With the completion of the business re-engineering project, the IMB has had more opportunity to work directly with the SoftCo personnel. Most notable, according to the Irish Medicines Board, is SoftCo's technical expertise combined with its understanding of IMB's own business, two elements which make IMB's relationship with SoftCo a fruitful one.

"The partnership approach adopted by IMB and SoftCo has proven very successful," says Pat O'Mahony, Chief Executive of the Irish Medicines Board. "We plan to build on this relationship through the development of further workflow applications to service the needs of our other business units."

SoftCo solution:

  • SoftCo designed a new workflow system - NIMBUS. NIMBUS was developed to support a major business re-organisation undertaken by the Irish Medicines Board focused on efficiency improvements in the human medicines licensing area
  • Powered by SoftCo Workflow, the new NIMBUS Workflow system supports the application processing procedure at the IMB, from receipt of the application dossier through to final decision
  • Work items are known as Cases. Each case has a team associated with its management and evaluation
  • Each user within the team is assigned a role. Each role has a part to play in the workflow and has specific tasks and rights across the system to support the processing of a case
  • The SoftCo system replaces an old client/server application that provided limited visibility of work in progress or availability of key expertise
  • Schedulers can utilise the new workflow system to quickly assemble teams to manage applications based on the team members' skills, availability or other work in progress
  • All users of the system have access to a summary work queue, providing a quick view of work assigned and current status
  • NIMBUS integrates with other key Irish Medicines Board systems
  • The workflow system supports decision-making through the assessment lifecycle

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