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  • Writer's pictureSAKS MedComms Team

Fantastic 7 of Successful Steering Committees


Fantastic 7 of Successful Steering Committees_SAKS Health Blog Post

Steering committees (SC) play a crucial role in shaping strategy and guiding critical initiatives within the pharmaceutical industry. These committees are integral to teams in medical affairs, commercial operations, and market access. Unlike advisory boards, which convene on an ad-hoc basis to offer advice, SCs operate year-round to provide continuous guidance on key initiatives and often participate in various decision-making processes. 


SCs can be established at any stage of a product’s life cycle, depending on need. Often referred to as “working groups,” these committees not only offer strategic direction but they generally also identify and recommend the key initiatives to pursue. They then help steer the work and are responsible for reviewing project deliverables. A well-structured and effective SC provides long-term support, helping pharmaceutical companies navigate market complexities and maintain a competitive edge.


Below are the Fantastic 7 to activate a successful SC: 


1.    Chair Selection

The SC chair or co-chairs provide leadership and direction overseeing meetings, setting the agenda, helping to maintain group focus, and ensuring that all committee initiatives align with organizational objectives. As with any group, challenges are bound to arise, and it is essential to select a chair(s) who can handle various personalities and find the right balance of compromise when needed. 


It is generally advantageous to select a well-respected KOL(s) to serve, someone who is experienced in leadership roles and has had prior committee experience. Often the chair(s) helps to identify which individuals would form the best team, knowing a bit about the individuals, how they might work together, and what experience they can bring to the table. 


2.    Recruitment

Unlike identifying KOLs for short-term initiatives, when considering SC selections a more long-term vision is required. SCs are usually contracted for at least a year, with many extending their tenure as needed. While members may occasionally be replaced as projects and priorities evolve, well-chosen committees tend to remain stable over time. This stability fosters familiarity among members, leading to more streamlined and impactful efforts that ensure projects align with organizational goals. 


Committees may sometimes consist of professionals with similar backgrounds, but more often are formed with those having a diverse range of credentials. In addition to suggestions from the chair(s), an agency (like our SAKS Health team) can assist in identifying appropriate candidates by conducting secondary research (reviewing academic publications, conference presentations, professional networking sites and forums), and conducting primary interviews to identify the most appropriate team members.


3.        Project Selection

Once a well-rounded and diverse SC team is established, the next step is to create mission and vision statements to ensure all members are aligned on the committee's strategic direction, objectives, and goals. With the assistance of an agency, the team often develops branding to maintain a consistent look and feel throughout their initiatives. Following this, the committee outlines potential projects and votes on which initiatives to pursue. Committee members provide the organization with insight into the project's impact on strategic objectives and its long-term implications including sustainability, scalability, and future ramifications.


4.   Roles and Responsibilities

Defining roles and delegating assignments is an important function of the committee chair(s). They also often organize project sub-committees depending on the group’s size. Team members provide program oversight by outlining project plans, delegating tasks, reviewing content, ensuring quality, monitoring progress and establishing KPIs and outcome measurement mechanisms. Agencies handle the heavy lift including the research, writing, editing, and development of creative and brand elements.


5. Project Activation

SC members are busy and highly sought-after individuals. Therefore, providing robust logistical support is essential to keep committees organized and running smoothly. Agencies like SAKS Health are typically hired to fulfill this role. They assist teams to implement processes, plan and schedule meetings, provide necessary resources, and monitor projects. These tasks are just a few of the functions agencies undertake to ensure the committee’s success.


6.   Transparent Collaboration

A key responsibility of the chair(s) is to encourage open communication and collaboration among committee members. This fosters thorough discussions and creative outputs. The supporting agency is responsible for keeping everyone updated on past action items and project progress. Maintaining transparency regarding expectations, company goals, and objectives leads to more energized and engaged participants who are more willing to continue their roles long-term.

 

7.      Engagement Touchpoints

We often think of SC meetings as live in-person engagements. While in-person meetings are valuable, especially for larger groups and fostering networking and camaraderie, hybrid meetings are often more practical given committee members’ busy schedules and their disparate locations. A dedicated platform is ideal for these engagements, as it allows for real-time storage and processing of team insights, facilitates conversations, and enables feedback to keep projects moving forward efficiently.



In summary, a SC can be an invaluable asset for pharmaceutical teams, providing continuous strategic direction and essential guidance on key initiatives throughout a product’s lifecycle. By embracing the “Fantastic 7 of Steering Committees” including careful selection of the right chair(s) and diverse team members, clearly defining roles, fostering effective communications, and utilizing flexible meeting formats, these committees can significantly impact the broader healthcare community, helping us all achieve a Better Healthcare Tomorrow™.

 

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