New Survey Finds Life Sciences Companies Struggling to Accurately Forecast Spending for Clinical Studies


Company News Release


announced the results of a new survey of life sciences professionals charged with forecasting and budgeting clinical studies at small, mid-sized, and Top 20 biopharmaceutical and medical device companies.  The survey, which is available for download at

, garnered 187 responses from managers and executives in clinical operations, outsourcing, finance, and project management representing 75 biopharmaceutical and medical device companies from the United States, Europe, and Japan.

The results of the survey clearly show that the life sciences industry continues to experience difficulty accurately predicting spending for its most costly area: clinical development. Almost half the survey respondents reported that their typical variance–from forecast to actual costs–for clinical studies was at least 11%, and was often greater. And one in five stated their cost variance was 16% or more. Not surprisingly, respondents demonstrated a marked lack of confidence in the accuracy of their study budgets, with only 21% stating they were “highly confident” in their budget forecasts.

Another notable gap was in planning efficiency. Fully 83% of respondents noted that they required at least one to two weeks to create a ballpark budget for a clinical study, while 50% said they required three weeks or more. And 62% of respondents reported requiring at least three weeks to roll up individual study budgets into a budget portfolio.

A key finding points to one possible explanation for this industry struggle to forecast accurately and efficiently. According to the survey, Microsoft Excel is the predominant method for clinical study forecasting and budgeting, being used by 57% of respondents.  This is in stark contrast to other industries, such as manufacturing or construction, which have long faced cost and resource pressures and which utilize planning software built around their industry’s unique requirements.

“The use of planning spreadsheets uncovered by the survey is at a level you would have seen in other industries 10 or 15 years ago,” observed Andrew Grygiel, Chief Marketing Officer for ClearTrial.  “The life sciences industry still lags far behind other industries in the use of purpose-built forecasting and budgeting software.  If the industry is truly serious about improving efficiency in clinical development, they will need to do more to improve the planning tools they use.”

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