Napp Pharmaceuticals is believed to be the UK’s largest privately-held pharmaceutical company.
The Cambridge-based organisation’s head of business projects, Chris Jones, recently outlined to MIS UK how his lean manufacturing organisation views the impact of software.

What is your role and responsibility at Napp?

I am called the head of business projects. While it is primarily an IT role I am very involved in the business.

Specifically, we have developed a project management methodology based on Prince2 which we have customised for our use as a pharmaceutical company.

Essentially anything that calls for a project leader and a start and finish date – we are there to help our business managers.

Why does a company like yours need such a role?

Our business is about taking existing molecules and finding new transport mechanisms for their release.

We work with opioids – strong pain management drugs like morphine and oxycoden – to help offer new ways of delivering their benefits. We also do some work in the cardiovascular area. To that end we do manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing and R&D – though probably more ‘D’ than ‘R’ there.

We are a manufacturing company in other words. We are enjoying good growth, in the teens, against an industry standard of three to four per cent.

How does IT help you?

In the pharmaceutical industry we produce two things: pills and paper. Every batch of product we produce involves around 100 pieces of paper. That documentation is made up of all sorts of things, from sticky labels to Word documents to signatures. All that paper has to be signed for, released to the market, then kept for years.

Obviously we are a heavily regulated industry so that’s fine, but we are interested in any way to make that ‘hidden factory’ of paper generation better managed.
We have hit some milestones around the concept of ‘lean’ production – which is very trendy in manufacturing at the moment.


We have been an Oracle house for eight years and major users of its ERP system. That’s not enough on its own – we believe best practice is all about constant improvement, and ultimately lean manufacturing is more about the marriage of science, process and people. But we use its software in manufacturing, financials, planning and customer services.

So you’re interested in grid computing?

Not at all. The reason we bought Oracle was for its ERP functionality, not because it is a database application.

Yes, we use that part of the eBusiness Suite but it’s the applications that count. It’s nice to see some features in 9i like more slicing and dicing but we are a one-site company with everything under the one roof, so we don’t need anything like grid.