Effectively Managing Your CRO – Select The Appropriate CRO Partner

It was not that long ago that the use of CROs was a fairly easy task – identify a small group of companies, form Preferred Partner Agreements, and choose from a select list for the full or functional services required. The services were tossed over the wall and the CRO would deliver. The Sponsor would have a one-on-one relationship with each member of the CRO, so reviews, approvals, and guidance were at the ready. Life was good…

As with anything in life, change happens – downsizing, in-sourcing, on-boarding, wholesale selling off of assets. And now, managing the CRO partners with fewer resources. Strategy becomes a bigger factor in determining which company, groups of companies, or contractors make the best fit for performance.

I had a recent car issue which seems to highlight the difference between large and small. Being a single owner of the vehicle now out of warranty) and working with the dealership, I found myself in a precarious situation. The short story as follows:

My car runs very well despite having 95,000 miles on it – never any trouble, religiously follow maintenance and repair guidelines, etc. One day at a stop light, the car idles rough, to the point of stalling but not quite. I was near the dealer and took it in for an assessment, as they have done a nice job handling previous maintenance issues.

So, I receive a call that they will begin with new sensors – cost $700, but not sure if they are the problem. They put them in and it, again, performs as described. The next morning, I receive a call that begins as follows: “I tried phoning area locations to see if I could find you a used engine to save on costs” – WHAT!!! – “ we think that it will cost about $4,900, and we are not sure if this will fix the problem”. After 3 days, this is the best that I received. In addition, following the repairs, they would kick-in another $2,500 toward a new car purchase. Happy New Year! Looking at similar cars – older, more mileage – the list prices were about 10 times greater than the deal to trade in.

As with major surgery, I wanted a second opinion and located an area mechanic who handles these types of cars. I explained my problem and asked if he could test it for me – I was told that my car was not drivable, so it was towed the 5 miles to his location. He gave me 1 hour of time to diagnose the issue.

Having the car through the weekend, he removed cam covers, checked all the fluids, ran the car on the road with computers attached to trigger the issue. He remarked that he went uphill doing about 100 miles per hour and the car didn’t flinch – rock solid. I am not mechanically inclined, but he explained that a cam was stuck in the up position – unfortunately in a position where the engine needed to be dropped. But he loved the car and suggested putting the money into it unless I was tired of it – and he did not charge me any money. The car was drivable, suggesting that I revisit the dealer to get the work done as they offer free rental cars with the service. I returned, drove the rental car, and was informed that the charge would be $1,500. When I looked at the parts list, no cam sensors or other “bad” parts were itemized – chains, rails and other items that were worth changing with the engine removed.

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