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How to Nearsource Science Effectively

You’ve made the decision to outsource to a contract research organization, but you’re not sure where to start. Do you send it overseas for lower cost or nearsource to a local group? Where do you even start?

The way people outsource projects are often very simple or needlessly complicated. Some continue to go to the same three companies for all their needs without considering alternatives; some search frantically on Google, call friends for recommendations, and juggle responses from CROs in their inbox and voicemail. Fortunately there are better ways to make the decision to nearsource:

Find local groups to help

There are some great communities with the infrastructure to help identify potential partners. San Diego-based CONNECT started their “Nearsourcing Initiative”1 focused on promoting outsourcing within the region. With workshops, a database of San Diego companies, dedicated matchmaking events, and the backing of the local community, the initiative provides all the tools to easily nearsource any service, whether life science, IT, or manufacturing. While other communities may not provide programs focused purely on outsourcing, most regions support trade groups and directories of local businesses.

Ask the right questions

It is critical to determine which factors are most important to you when making a decision to outsource; whether it is locally or internationally. In a recent article about why companies should nearsource, the Union Tribune San Diego addresses how many companies ask the wrong questions, citing that a “mistake companies make is only looking at the unit labor cost instead of the total landed costs that includes labor, shipping, tariffs, the cost of employees going back and forth, and customer service.”2 Other questions to ask are:

  • How will the quality be affected? Is quality impacted by means of delivery?
  • How easily will I be able to troubleshoot any problems that may arise? Is this a project I want resolved in person?
  • Will this company fit regulatory and compliance requirements?
  • Is there a communication barrier in language or time zone that I am uncomfortable with?

Ultimately, you must decide if the potential cost savings (make sure you are actually saving!) are worth a level of discomfort and inconvenience that may be associated with outsourcing globally versus the relative ease of choosing to nearsource.

You can filter service and vendor results by location

Online outsourcing tools

Armed with these questions, you need to gather information from different vendors in order to make the best assessment. Finding and communicating with relevant life science vendors has become a lot easier using research exchanges aka online marketplaces. When performing a search for services or vendors on Scientist, one of the filters you can apply, is for location. Since Scientist’s data is used to populate Contract Research Map, all location information is searchable on the database. Just type in the service you are looking for and a general location. For example, “san diego DNA sequencing” returns 14 possible services and 9 vendors.

The system also allows for easy initiation of conversation with multiple vendors, thereby allowing users to manage communications in a single place, rather than keeping track of replies from varying sources. Having side-by-side comparison of prices, ratings, and replies allows for a much easier decision when choosing to outsource overseas or nearsource.