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Yammer collaboration helps Sanofi Pasteur improve quality, make more life-saving vaccines

By Microsoft on January 24, 2017

Filed under Pharmaceuticals

Sanofi Pasteur is a global leader in producing vaccines that help people around the world fight more than 20 infectious diseases. Sanofi Pasteur has always rigorously pursued quality in its manufacturing processes, and today it uses Yammer to crowdsource innovative ideas from everyone in the company to further improve and develop vaccine production. As a result, the company is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars, reducing waste, and continually improving safety and quality so more people can benefit from its vaccines.

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Each year, 390 million people are bitten by mosquitos carrying the Dengue virus. For 500,000 of them, this split-second, often undetected attack results in dengue hemorrhagic fever, a severe form of the disease with sometimes deadly consequences. Tetanus bacillus, present everywhere in the soil in the form of highly resistant spores, infects hundreds of thousands of people every year. Without treatment, this illness can be fatal.

These are only two of the 26 preventable infectious diseases for which vaccines are available. Sanofi Pasteur produces vaccines for 20 of them, totaling more than 1 billion doses of vaccines manufactured yearly to immunize more than 500 million people worldwide. “Working in the preventative health arena, we believe passionately in a world where no one suffers or dies from a vaccine-preventable disease,” says Celine Schillinger, Head of Quality Innovation and Engagement at Sanofi Pasteur. “We achieve our goals by an unwavering focus on quality. Vaccine production is complex, highly regulated, and it requires very strict controls throughout the process—therefore we dedicate approximately 70 percent of our time to quality controls. Put simply, our products must always be perfect.”

Introducing corporate activism

To continually improve customer satisfaction and meet regulatory demands, Sanofi Pasteur quality teams work closely with the heads of industrial operations across 15 production and R&D sites. Together, they define quality policies and procedures to ensure all processes comply with good manufacturing practices (GMPs). However, Schillinger and Anders Vinther, Chief Quality Officer at Sanofi Pasteur, believe there is always room for improvement. That’s why they introduced a new way to achieve quality: by changing business culture through corporate activism. This method redefines quality from an imposed set of rules and regulations to a shared passion among all employees that equates to a new “quality mindset.” Sanofi Pasteur chose Yammer as the platform for this change.

“We use corporate activism to improve quality at all levels through a social movement facilitated by Yammer,” says Vinther. “We’re empowering employees with a new voice to co-create solutions that help save lives. Improvements can come from anywhere in the organization and through Yammer can be shared everywhere.”

Promoting collaboration throughout the company

Organizations with traditional hierarchical, rigid corporate cultures find Yammer to be a powerful agent for expanding the conversation around quality. Today at Sanofi Pasteur, instead of relying on extremely busy senior managers to drive the quality dialogue with their colleagues, middle managers and shop floor employees use Yammer to contribute their ideas. “Employees on the shop floor often have more interest in sharing their best practices and are proud to do so,” says Schillinger. “We appreciate how intuitive Yammer is and how it’s available on everyone’s mobile device. That adaptability makes it easy to use for employees who do not sit at a desk, as well as for executives who are always on the go.”

Sanofi Pasteur also considers Yammer a great way to facilitate emotional connections across the company. “I encourage everyone to use Yammer to share pictures of their teams and themselves,” says Schillinger. “In our world, people work long hours in austere labs and factories. They are bonded by the nobility of the product they manufacture, not necessarily by social interaction. With Yammer, we can build the personal connections that are essential to drive the sustainable energy that ensures long-term change in how we improve quality at Sanofi Pasteur.”

Making process and quality improvements through corporate activism

Using Yammer, Sanofi employees set up activist networks for change, such as Pour Agir Maintenant (PAM, “Act Now”) and Ensemble Pour Demain (“Together for Tomorrow”) that were created in large manufacturing sites. Each group attracted more than 1,000 people. “When a conversation gets to the heart of our company values, the engagement is tremendous; our Yammer group on quality mindset alone has more than 1,200 Sanofi employees participating—and this number keeps growing,” adds Schillinger.  The business benefits extend beyond creating a more collegial, personal culture that unifies a global company. Now that people share their observations about policies and procedures across departments and hierarchies, Sanofi Pasteur is using that information to redesign its manufacturing and business processes to improve quality and further optimize its cost-effectiveness.

“We use Yammer all the time to share updates, ask for feedback, and connect volunteers around improvement initiatives,” says Schillinger. A recent project involving employee activists and Yammer resulted in a 60 percent simplification of a key quality process at one manufacturing site, saved the company thousands of euros, and reduced overall end-to-end process time. Through Yammer, volunteers are helping this improvement go global.

“We have reduced deviations drastically,” says Schillinger. “In addition to the positive effect on supply, this represents a significant saving in resources. Recurring deviations are down by double-digit percentage, and we have reduced the company’s overall risk profile.”

Sharing best practices that yield more vaccines

Before Yammer connected the community of improvement activists, many new ideas generated in a production area remained unknown to the others, sometimes even in the same manufacturing facility. Yammer now makes it possible to leverage this scattered know-how into global, established practices. For example, a building operator had ideas about how to reduce waste when managing a specific material in his production facility. Supported by volunteers across several sites, he was able to trigger a new procedure for handling the material. That procedure saved his facility more than €100,000 (USD105,000) per year and is now a global best practice at all Sanofi Pasteur production sites.

More importantly, reducing waste and improving quality through hundreds of connected initiatives resulted in fewer manufacturing write offs and greater supply. Millions more vaccines are now being made available by Sanofi Pasteur to people worldwide.

Workplace safety has always been a top priority for the company. “In the last two years since people have been connecting across silos, developing a culture of activism and care for each other, the number of injuries has gone down by more than 10 percent,” says Schillinger. “And we’ve seen a drastic reduction in potentially serious injuries. A Yammer-powered community is an impressive enabler for health and safety improvement programs, or any other behavior-change initiative.”

Enabling lasting culture change through wins

Vinther and Schillinger encourage Yammer posts where employees say, “Yes, there’s a problem, and I have an idea to fix it.” To that end, volunteers track the “wins” people have made as a team or as individuals. According to Vinther, a win is an action implemented by working together differently that makes today better than yesterday, or tomorrow better than today. “Employees are connecting on Yammer at all levels around the topic of quality and using it to share wins,” says Vinther. “Our experience with Yammer proves that the more people share their solutions, the faster we can use those solutions to save the company time and money. And all of this is based on a ‘want to’ approach rather than the traditional ‘have to.’”

Sanofi Pasteur has collected more than 1,000 wins in less than a year. Every month, the three best wins are highlighted on Yammer, and many are adopted as best practices. “For instance, there was a great idea that shows the benefits of cross-departmental communication on Yammer,” says Schillinger. “In one lab where vaccines are received and analyzed, all the vials must be labeled for traceability requirements. These vials are then transferred to another department for visual inspection, which required the employees to remove the labels. Staff in both labs talked about a better approach. Today, the vials are no longer individually labeled. Instead, they are put in a labeled, sealed bag before they go for visual inspection. This saves thousands of hours a year.”

Vinther and Schillinger started using Yammer to improve quality performance through new ways of working. This includes a Yammer group called “Quality Mindset.” The success of this group—which keeps growing and now has 1,250 people actively involved in it—precipitated a new name for the movement, one that speaks to the future: Big Opportunity. “We realized that this conversation included everyone, from R&D to the shop floor,” concludes Schillinger. “This is our big opportunity to evolve our culture and our products continuously. Thanks to Yammer, personal potential is not just a buzzword at Sanofi Pasteur. Using our powerful network, we have created a sense of ownership in our collective mission to save more lives.”

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