Case study

Reference: IMD-3-2169

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SMS for life (B): Living the implementation challenges of a successful pilot project

By Emeritus Professor Donald A. Marchand

After successfully completing the roll-out of the SMS for Life project in three health districts in Tanzania, Jim Barrington, former group CIO of Novartis and Project Director for SMS for Life with Roll-Back Malaria, faces a number a challenges for implementing the project full scale in Tanzania as well as having other African countries (including Kenya, Ghana, The Democratic Republic of the Congo) adopt the SMS for Life project approach. This case covers the implementation efforts of Jim in these countries as well as new challenges he is facing as competitors in the pharmaceutical industry learn about the project and its use in managing the supply chains for the private distribution of drugs in Africa. In addition, new interest by NGOs is developing on “drug access” to stock in African countries as well as launching new funding formulas for the distribution of malaria and other drugs on a private and public basis. Finally, companies that help consumers distinguish between fake and genuine medicines and drugs are using SMS for Life type capabilities as well. In the winter of 2011, Jim Barrington faces important questions: 1) Where should he continue to focus his time and energy? 2) What can Novartis as a healthcare company do to compete with SMS for Life capabilities developing in both the public and private distribution of drugs in Africa? 3) What roles should business and IT leaders in Novartis play in exploiting what started as a pro bono “corporate social responsibility” pilot project in the public sector to achieve competitive value in Novartis businesses? 4) What other strategies like SMS for Life could Novartis pursue to manage “information about products” as new and emerging services in the healthcare industry? Learning objectives: There are three learning objectives and ways to teach this case: 1) to discuss how to lead and manage a successful pilot project into a full scale roll-out in multiple countries with different stakeholders and funding approaches; 2) to understand how a project launched as a corporate social responsibility effort develops competitive value in the private sector and what the opportunities and trade-offs are for both Novartis and its competitors? And 3) to address the challenges of being involved in emerging patient-centric and information-based business initiatives for companies whose focus and operating cultures have been primarily product-based in the healthcare industry.

Learning Objective

There are three learning objectives and ways to teach this case:

  1. to discuss how to lead and manage a successful pilot project into a full scale roll-out in multiple countries with different stakeholders and funding approaches;
  2. to understand how a project launched as a corporate social responsibility effort develops competitive value in the private sector and what the opportunities and trade-offs are for both Novartis and its competitors? 
  3. to address the challenges of being involved in emerging patient-centric and information-based business initiatives for companies whose focus and operating cultures have been primarily product-based in the healthcare industry.
KeywordsCollaboration, General Management, Information Management, Innovation, Malaria, Public-Private Partnership, Supply Chain, Value Constellation
SettingsAfrica, Tanzania
Novartis, Pharmaceuticals
April 2010-February 2011
TypeField Research
Copyright©2011
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Reference: IMD-3-2169

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Reference: IMD-3-2169

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