Michael Shullich, senior director at Medidata Solutions, and Naimisha Kollu, senior project manager at Medidata, speak with CXOTalk about embracing change in the new services economy. Medidata is a software company in the vertical of software and life sciences, with clients in the pharmaceutical and medical industries. The company uses FinancialForce’s PSA module and part of its building engine for professional services expansion.

“We create new products, we change the way clinical trials are done. That's baked into our technology. We're not looking to just enable. We're looking to transform. We're very passionate about what we do. We are helping create new drugs, new treatments… Our mission is to power smarter treatments and healthier people. You can't do that by doing what you used to do. And you can't do it being incremental. So, we have kind of the external focus what we do with our clients,” Shullich says.

“The change doesn’t come from outside. It has to come from within the organization,” Kollu adds. “We bring and bridge the gap between the organizational departments. We bring technology and the processes together to make that transformation.”

Transcript

Michael Krigsman: I’m Michael Krigsman, an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. We’re here in Las Vegas at the Community Live 2017 conference held by FinancialForce. And I’m speaking with two folks from Medidata. Mike, tell us about Medidata.

Michael Shullich: Medidata was founded in 1999. We went public in 2009. We were born in the cloud. We’re a software company. Our specialty is in the vertical of software and life sciences. So, our customers are pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, basically what our customers are doing are running clinical trials to create breakthrough drugs to help patients. We create the architecture that they run their trials on, and we accelerate that.

Michael Krigsman: And what is your role at Medidata?

Michael Shullich: I’m a Senior Director in the Business Innovation Office. I take care of all the corporate applications. All our corporate applications are in the cloud, so that’s why we’re here today at FinancialForce. They’re one of our key partners. So, kind of a carrot-feeding of all our corporate systems.

Michael Krigsman: Naimisha, what is your role at Medidata?

Naimisha Kollu: I’m a Senior Project Manager. Like Michael, I work in the Business Innovation Office. And, I help Mike achieve his dreams!

Michael Krigsman: Wow! That’s pretty good!

Naimisha Kollu: As a Project Manager, my role is to actually help achieve the strategic goals of our customers who are our internal departments.

Michael Krigsman: IT is the broad umbrella into which your organization innovation fits.

Michael Shullich: Yes. I sit in the technology stack, and the technology stack makes up a lot of our company. As a cultural attribute, we’re looking to transform our industry. We invest 25% of our revenue back into R&D. We’re long-term-focused, so what we’re doing for the clients in terms of transforming the industry, I try to do internally. So, behind professional services, our legal people, our HR people, making sure they have the best tools, systems, processes; so they can execute their mission.

Michael Krigsman: Why is innovation inside IT?

Michael Shullich: We create new products, we change the way clinical trials are done. That's baked into our technology. We're not looking to just enable. We're looking to transform. We're very passionate about what we do. We are helping create new drugs, new treatments… Our mission is to power smarter treatments and healthier people. You can't do that by doing what you used to do. And you can't do it being incremental. So, we have kind of the external focus what we do with our clients. That's my job, for internal focus, is to help Metadata run better.

Naimisha Kollu: And, we actually empower our users. The change doesn’t come from outside. It has to come from within the organization. So that’s what we do. We bring and bridge the gap between the organizational departments. We bring technology and the processes together to make that transformation.         

Michael Krigsman: And so, when you are thinking about project management, how does this approach, or this mindset inform the way you can structure projects and execute your projects?

Naimisha Kollu: So, as Mike is coming from a technology stack, I'm actually coming from a PMO stack. We both are hand-in-hand organizations which go in parallel. And again, we are from the same business innovation office, just two different streams of lines. So, as a member of the project management office, my responsibility is not just project management. We are not typical project managers which you see in any organization. We don't just facilitate the meetings. We don't just manage the projects. What we do and what we bring to the table is our experience with these applications. What we bring to the table is our experience with our business processes that go within the organization.

If someone, you know; a professional services department comes back, and they want

Michael Krigsman: I’m Michael Krigsman, an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. We’re here in Las Vegas at the Community Live 2017 conference held by FinancialForce. And I’m speaking with two folks from Medidata. Mike, tell us about Medidata.

Michael Shullich: Medidata was founded in 1999. We went public in 2009. We were born in the cloud. We’re a software company. Our specialty is in the vertical of software and life sciences. So, our customers are pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, basically what our customers are doing are running clinical trials to create breakthrough drugs to help patients. We create the architecture that they run their trials on, and we accelerate that.

Michael Krigsman: And what is your role at Medidata?

Michael Shullich: I’m a Senior Director in the Business Innovation Office. I take care of all the corporate applications. All our corporate applications are in the cloud, so that’s why we’re here today at FinancialForce. They’re one of our key partners. So, kind of a carrot-feeding of all our corporate systems.

Michael Krigsman: Naimisha, what is your role at Medidata?

Naimisha Kollu: I’m a Senior Project Manager. Like Michael, I work in the Business Innovation Office. And, I help Mike achieve his dreams!

Michael Krigsman: Wow! That’s pretty good!

Naimisha Kollu: As a Project Manager, my role is to actually help achieve the strategic goals of our customers who are our internal departments.

Michael Krigsman: IT is the broad umbrella into which your organization innovation fits.

Michael Shullich: Yes. I sit in the technology stack, and the technology stack makes up a lot of our company. As a cultural attribute, we’re looking to transform our industry. We invest 25% of our revenue back into R&D. We’re long-term-focused, so what we’re doing for the clients in terms of transforming the industry, I try to do internally. So, behind professional services, our legal people, our HR people, making sure they have the best tools, systems, processes; so they can execute their mission.

Michael Krigsman: Why is innovation inside IT?

Michael Shullich: We create new products, we change the way clinical trials are done. That's baked into our technology. We're not looking to just enable. We're looking to transform. We're very passionate about what we do. We are helping create new drugs, new treatments… Our mission is to power smarter treatments and healthier people. You can't do that by doing what you used to do. And you can't do it being incremental. So, we have kind of the external focus what we do with our clients. That's my job, for internal focus, is to help Metadata run better.

Naimisha Kollu: And, we actually empower our users. The change doesn’t come from outside. It has to come from within the organization. So that’s what we do. We bring and bridge the gap between the organizational departments. We bring technology and the processes together to make that transformation.         

Michael Krigsman: And so, when you are thinking about project management, how does this approach, or this mindset inform the way you can structure projects and execute your projects?

Naimisha Kollu: So, as Mike is coming from a technology stack, I'm actually coming from a PMO stack. We both are hand-in-hand organizations which go in parallel. And again, we are from the same business innovation office, just two different streams of lines. So, as a member of the project management office, my responsibility is not just project management. We are not typical project managers which you see in any organization. We don't just facilitate the meetings. We don't just manage the projects. What we do and what we bring to the table is our experience with these applications. What we bring to the table is our experience with our business processes that go within the organization.

If someone, you know; a professional services department comes back, and they want to implement a tool, we know which tool to bring into the architecture because we have experience with our other applications within our infrastructure; and we will be able to guide them in the right way, which is going to be a better fit culturally and also from our architecture standpoint. So, as a project manager, we bring and bridge the gap between the departments, between the teams, between the technologies, and the processes.

Michael Shullich: I think she's very modest too. She is a subject matter expert. She can go toe-to-toe. So, we talk about FinancialForce - she knows the PS process inside and out. In order to get a transformation, you have to know what the current state is, and you have to have a vision what the future state is. And she is excellent at being able to kind of map out the way it is today to the future. And, by doing that too, I think you get the respect of your internal customers. Because let's be honest, change is frightening, right? Especially if you got all these things going on, and change kind of has to be managed in a process. You do an excellent job doing that.

Naimisha Kollu: Thank you! One thing is, our responsibility doesn’t end just with implementation. We don’t dust our hands after implementation and just vanish from… Our responsibility also includes the adoption. In respect to how good of an implementation we do, we won’t be successful without our users adopting the technology; adopting the process. So we incorporate that adoption as well into our responsibility and we don’t leave them. So, they trust us to such an extent that they know we won’t leave them until they are comfortable.

Michael Krigsman: How do you encourage adoption? This is one of the key issues.

Naimisha Kollu: Again, adoption is more of an incremental approach. So, we cater to different types of audiences as well. Ours is a global organization which has spread across different regions, geographies, and all that stuff. So what we do is we do have an internal team which is called “Merit Academy,” which is targeted towards training our external customers on our products, but they also actually help us to train our internal users on the products that we use internally.

Michael Krigsman: So, you’re working very closely.

Naimisha Kollu: We work hand-in-hand. We are all part of a bigger organization called Enterprise Technology, and we work hand-in-hand. And we do different methods to adopt. We do live webinars; we do lunch and learns; we do quick short videos; we do roadshows for adoption. We have question and answer sessions.

Michael Krigsman: You’re really… You guys are really into adoption!

Naimisha Kollu: Yeah! Change management is a big piece of the implementation.

Michael Krigsman: Mike, a big part of this conference has been a discussion about the new services economy, and it sounds like that's how you think about IT.

Michael Shullich: Yeah, I guess the way I think about it in terms of Medidata… We’re very proud of the fact that we have a 99% retention rate on our customers. Our professional services are a key element. So, our professional services have three aspects of admission. One is, get the customers up and running. Really, it’s time to market…

Michael Krigsman: Get them up and running; number one?

Michael Shullich: Get them… And the second one is making sure they get value, right? So if they’re not getting value, they’re not going to come back and they’re not going to ask for more. But if they’re getting value, people are willing to spend more, and they want more of it.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Speed, value, and what’s number three?

Michael Shullich: The number three is about giving advice, right? So, we implement clinical trials all over the world in different kinds of therapies. We know our product line. We’re in the best position to talk to our customers as, “Look, if you did this tweak or you did that tweak, it will save you money; it will get you faster;” and that’s value ed, too, right? So we want to help them be successful So, in terms of professional services and that economy, that’s a big differentiator as opposed to, “I’m just taking your order.” I’m as committed to your success as you are. Maybe more? So, that I think is part of the service economy; it’s delivering value and helping people be successful, they’re going to come knocking on your door and…

Michael Krigsman: And before we…

Naimisha Kollu: And actually, I want to add to that. We are actually professional services internally as well because the value, the speed and the advice that Mike is talking towards; external, like what our professional services team do to our customers. We, the Business Innovation Office, do the same thing when executing our project.

Michael Krigsman: Okay! And before we finish up, we’re here at FinancialForce’s conference. What are you doing with FinancialForce?

Naimisha Kollu: We went live with FinancialForce in July 2016. So we are using their PSA module, and also a part of their building engine to build our professional services expansion.

Michael Krigsman: And, why did you choose FinancialForce?

Michael Shullich: Well, we looked at a number of different products. It had the best fit for us. Some of the aspects that we really liked were, it was on the Salesforce platform, and we had already been on the Salesforce platform so we could leverage our existing people. It was a really good match for us, and it was also going to lead us to do certain automations and efficiencies that we could do with a product.

So, the other thing you talk about adoption is realization. So, people do implementation but they don’t go back and they measure that they realize the result. We’ve done that, and we’re here at FinancialForce to share our story. So we did a presentation this morning telling people our journey and our story, and what we were able to achieve. It must have hit a note. We had a lot of people come up and ask us a lot of questions.

Michael Krigsman: Yup!

Michael Shullich: So, we were very excited about that.

Naimisha Kollu: It has tools to empower our project managers to become “success managers.”

Michael Krigsman: I love it! Empower the PMs to be “Success Managers.”  Naimisha, it’s great to meet you!

Naimisha Kollu: Thank you!

Michael Krigsman: And Mike, great to meet you as well!

Michael Shullich: Thank you!

Michael Krigsman: Thanks so much!