Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, ProPharma Group is the leading global, single-source provider of regulatory, clinical, and compliance services serving pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. ProPharma offers services across six lines of business, including regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance, medical information and clinical research solutions, all with the goal of improving patient health and safety.
Jessie Bustamante, ProPharma’s General Counsel, leads the company’s global legal team, overseeing two attorneys based in the European Union and one additional attorney and a paralegal in the United States. Together, this team handles all the legal needs for the company’s 2,600 employees across North America, Europe, and APAC. Along with primary responsibility for all commercial transactions, the legal team also provides support to ProPharma’s human resources department, oversees its real estate and IP portfolios, manages litigation and outside counsel, and provides advice and counsel to all ProPharma colleagues. As members of a small team supporting a large organization, every attorney needs to be a jack of all trades and will be leveraging LinkSquares to drive efficiency.
The Challenge of a Global Legal Team Working Remotely
When Bustamante joined ProPharma in April 2020, the world had just transitioned from working in the office to working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “All of a sudden, our officers were closed and everyone was remote,” remembers Bustamante. “And yet due to the nature of the pandemic, our services were needed more than ever.”
While ProPharma was able to quickly and effectively move the company to remote work, the legal team found that the one gap in their technology stack was a centralized platform for managing their contracts. With 10 acquisitions since 2010 and a merger in 2021, the company had contracts stored in disparate shared drives across the globe. This made locating agreements a time-consuming challenge, holding back the legal team’s productivity as their workloads continued to grow.
Bustamante shares, “The transition to virtual work drove home the need for a centralized way to consolidate our contract management processes, both the pre-signature and post-signature.”
We have now migrated 17,000 contracts into LinkSquares Analyze... allowing us to quickly run reports to understand how many contracts are coming from each [business] unit.Jesse Bustamante
Along with their extensive portfolio of work, the ProPharma legal team found themselves spending several hours a week fielding questions from various parts of the organization. Often, the questions came from the business development (BD) team, asking whether there was a Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDA) or Master Services Agreement in place with a specific company. Without a way to search across all their contracts, these basic queries required arduous ad hoc searches across various shared drives.
For Bustamante, the first step to boosting efficiency was aggregating their contracts into one place. Between the various M&A events, offices in multiple countries, and a steady stream of 10 to 20 new agreements per week, she needed a centralized repository accessible to her team and key stakeholders across the company.
“We have now migrated 17,000 contracts into LinkSquares Analyze,” says Bustamante. “And we’re able to use the tagging function to mark each contract with the applicable business unit, allowing us to quickly run reports to understand how many contracts are coming from each unit.”
In addition to keeping their contracts secure and searchable for the legal team, ProPharma will be enabling their business development team with self-service searches by giving them read-only access to their portfolio.
“I anticipate that giving our BD folks the tools to answer their own questions will save my team several hours per week, which we can use to tackle other top priorities,” says Bustamante.
Once their contracts were centralized and searchable, ProPharma sought to optimize the rest of their contracting process across every office and every geography.
“When I joined the company, it became clear that we needed a global tool for drafting and executing our contracts,” says Bustamante. ”The way our teams were doing things in the UK was different from the way they were doing things in Japan, which was different from the way we were doing things in the US.”
To streamline the process, ProPharma is creating templates in LinkSquares Finalize for their key contracts, including CDAs, master service agreements, statements of work, and purchase orders. By templating their key agreements, Bustamante and her team can ensure each of their highly technical agreements contains necessary language, along with key provisions critical to complying with data privacy regulations like GDPR.
Along with templates, Finalize will be driving greater efficiency during the pre-signature process by keeping the review and approval process centralized and transparent. “I get the same questions everyday: ‘Who can sign this agreement?’ ‘Who can approve it?’” With Finalize, each contract has a designated owner inside the platform and workflows route the contract to the correct signer depending on contract type and location. This automation eliminates the need for the legal team to provide continuous status updates and workflow guidance to stakeholders.
“Having worked in firms tracking billable hours, I’m pretty attuned to how long it takes to do something,” says Bustamante. “By using LinkSquares to support the BD teams on the front end and operations teams on the back end, we’re all excited to be getting more done more quickly.”