Six Strategies for More Accurate Clinical Trial Forecasting & Budgeting

Currently there are over 131,000 registered drug or biologic clinical trials in process around the world.  With an average of $4 billion spent over the last 10 years on R&D for each new therapeutic molecule developed, worldwide pharmaceutical R&D future investments are expected to grow by 2.4% to $181 billion by 2022. With dollars of this magnitude at stake, it’s no wonder that there are huge and intensifying pressures on Life Sciences industry researchers to plan and forecast clinical trials accurately, while keeping variances between projected needs and actual performance low.

Can Spreadsheets Be Trusted?

Against this background, effective clinical trial planning is growing more challenging for trial Sponsors, given the greater complexity of trial design and the increasingly global nature of trials. As a result, leveraging manual processes and spreadsheets for trial forecasting and budgeting is no longer feasible. Spreadsheets just cannot keep up.  There are a number of reasons for this.

  • Questionable data quality – Manually managing data in spreadsheets increases the risk of errors.
  • Spotty resolution of errors - The spot-checking process of finding and replacing mistakes in spreadsheet data is unpredictable, resulting in additional data errors.
  • Difficulty in capturing data complexity - Spreadsheets don’t manage text-fields, time-dependent data, or complex data well. It is also difficult for them to handle data groupings when the amount of data is not known in advance.
  • Inferior versioning and collaboration – It’s hard to save/re-save spreadsheet versions, email files, and file names with dates and initials, which leads to chain of custody issues resulting in changes being made by different stakeholders to different versions of the file.
  • No support for advanced analytics – Data investigation capabilities within spreadsheets is limited to logical actions, arithmetic, and recap statistics.

Smarter Methods

Study teams can avoid these issues with smarter, more strategic thinking.  Here are six strategies for more accurate clinical trial forecasting and budgeting.

1. Utilize standardized costing methodologies.

• Rely on industry standards which have been collected over time.

Benefit: Create accurate budgets in minutes instead of days.


2. Leverage industry intelligence to drive decisions.

• Utilize aggregated information collected across the industry.

Benefit: Streamline negotiations by leveraging independent, third-party, industry metrics.


3. Implement a process for rapid scenario planning.

• Avoid using multiple spreadsheets for various scenarios which is time consuming and error prone.

Benefit: Quickly create and compare multiple study scenarios.


4. Automate bid comparisons.

• Stop comparing inconsistent vendor bids across multiple spreadsheets for best trial outsourcing options.

Benefit: Negotiate CRO bids and shorten contract closure timelines.


5. Replace manual spreadsheets.

• Find a solution that eliminates spreadsheets and manual planning. Look for a technology partner who can provide a superior alternative that is faster and more accurate.

Benefit: Reduce the risk of manual errors and expedite the entire process.


6. Simplify your portfolio view of costs and resources.

• Leverage a solution that aggregates all of your planning details across studies in one, centralized location.

Benefit: Understand critical path activities and resource demands across your portfolio.


By leveraging these six strategies, research teams can easily accelerate delivery of accurate, defensible,and achievable study budgets. These strategies can also shorten the time it takes to get a study underway by a considerable amount.

Are you using smart strategies to simplify your trial budgeting and forecasting?

Learn more about how Oracle Health Sciences ClearTrial Plan and Source Cloud Service realizes these strategies.  The solution saves users time and money by equipping study teams with tools for quick and accurate planning, forecasting, and outsourcing of clinical projects.

Contact us to learn more about for your forecasting and budgeting needs today.



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