Charles River has supported the development of over 80% of all of the drugs approved by the FDA for the past three years. Founded in 1947, Charles River now has more than 100 facilities in 20 countries worldwide and a reputation for timeliness and accuracy in every stage of the drug development process
Their customers, including leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrochemical, government, and academic organizations around the world, have relied on Charles River’s products and services to help expedite the discovery, early-stage development, and safe manufacture of novel drugs and therapeutics.
Today, the publicly traded company maintains a high speed of growth by making strategic acquisitions that strengthen its already broad portfolio of products and services. Over the past two years, the company’s rate of acquisition has increased significantly, with six sizable acquisitions being made within months of each other.
While the organization expands with each new acquisition, so does the workload of their 18,400+ strong workforce. Their marketing department was no exception.
The reality of operating in a highly-regulated industry and dealing with the volatility brought on by a global pandemic was already a source of delays and inefficiencies in the internal process.
In combination with the influx of new products and services to support, as well as an ongoing digital transformation, the balance inside Charles River marketing was going to be difficult to keep in the long-run.
Anticipating the vital need for scalability in the years to come, Gina Mullane, CSVP Client Experience & Chief Marketing Officer and Darci Helbling, Executive Director, Global Marketing Operations at Charles River began to seek opportunities to transform their department into a more effective, predictable, and efficient operation.
In October 2020, amidst a global pandemic and still acclimatizing to remote working, Charles River decided to undertake a systematic Agile transformation across their marketing department.
Darci reached out to AgileSherpas to support the Strategic Marketing and Marketing Operations teams on the journey to the summit of marketing agility through preliminary assessment, certification training for Agile teams and leaders, and embedded coaching and workshops, all led by expert Sherpas.
By combining the know-how that comes with her nearly 16-year tenure at Charles River with a deep understanding of the team dynamic inside the department, Darci collaborated with AgileSherpas to design an Agile marketing pilot that combined strategic and operational marketers, the learnings from which could be rolled out more widely within the department in a low-risk way.
Over the course of the last nine months, Charles River marketing has trained their teams and leaders in Agile ways of working for marketing, successfully completed a three-month Agile marketing pilot, and gradually expanded the implementation to 10 more teams within the department.
Team leads and members have full accountability for the Agile process. They’re dedicated to continually improving their application of Agile through analyzing productivity metrics, visualizing their process, and engaging in open communication. A regular schedule of Agile meetings, such as reviews, retrospectives, daily standups, and backlog refinement, helps keep work flowing smoothly.
As of August 2021, the Charles River marketing teams enjoy an average 50% increase in their speed to market for marketing campaigns, all while team members report higher morale. In a highly collaborative environment, they’re also seeing better communication with stakeholders, who, in turn, feel more connected to the ongoing marketing activities. All of this combines to produce more value for their customers, which is, of course, the ultimate goal of marketing in the first place.
Let’s take a look at how Darci, Gina, and the entire marketing department streamlined internal processes for greater efficiency through Agile, to consistently exceed customer expectations and stay top of their market with the support of AgileSherpas.