About the company and myself:
We are a clinical research organization (CRO) providing strategic clinical research solutions. We conduct research on new drugs prior to their launch on the market. Our company was founded in 1993, thus we have over 20 years of experience in the market. The company initially focused on research in central Europe. It has grown over time, and now we are truly a mid-size CRO with headquarters in Berlin and main operating offices in Boston, Warsaw and Kiev.
The Russian office of KCR was opened in 2009, and I have been with the company for over 7 years as a CEO. Since then, the company has developed greatly, and the UCMS Group helped us at all stages of this development. Our team has also grown over the years. UCMS supports us, especially in terms of preparing documentation for business trips, and for us this is very important, because our specialists actively travel to other cities and it is important for us that the processing and reporting of business trips are carried out as accurately as possible, and, of course, the payment of travel expenses must be done in a timely and correct manner.
As soon as I joined the company as a director, I assessed the state of affairs in the accounting department. I am not an accountant, however, I have an MBA from the Plekhanov School of Business, where I was taught, based on some diagnostic criteria, to make an understanding of the stage at which a company is in terms of various indicators. I had some doubts, so we organized an internal audit of the accounting department, which was then done by Svetlana Makashina (note: Head of Accounting Outsourcing Department 2010-2014). And in the end we realized that we have a lot of work and that we will continue to do it with the UCMS Group. Then we started our cooperation.
At that time, the Russian office of the company was small and there was no point in hiring a separate person in-house.
I wanted the work to be carried out professionally, so that we knew that we could really rely on a partner. And as you noticed, there really was no tender, everything was strongly tied to the personalities. I knew how Svetlana works, I know how Ekaterina (Menshikova) works, so I wanted them to help build work in our company. I understood that since such professionals are in charge of the process, I can expect a good result for my company. And so it happened.
I think this is a good exception, there are not only tenders, there are also other ways. Of course, making a decision as a leader, I knew that there are other companies in this area, I understood the cost of services. This is not the first time our company came across the UCMS Group, we cooperated in other countries (it seems, at that time in Hungary) and this was also one of the factors. Our CFO and our CEO supported this decision. I will not say that it was a blind decision only at the level of personal preference. Naturally, they played an important role, but I also understood that the UCMS Group has a proper position in the market for these services and provides a good service for reasonable money, and I saw a lot of references.
I expected everything – and that you will build processes, that the accounting department will be put in order. We needed a comprehensive look at what was happening in the company in order to understand how to organize the work.
We had another provider who was not an outsourcing professional, they were more like auditors. There were a number of nuances in their work, which is why I had the idea to change. For me personally, the outsourcing format was new in the accounting area, before that I had not come across it. But in my opinion, we discussed everything in detail, and it helped a lot that Svetlana and Ekaterina were familiar with the specifics of the business of companies like ours. I was glad that we started cooperation with Ekaterina and Svetlana. The situation is really unique in many ways, but in fact, such cases are also very revealing. Of course, there were some difficulties with the team, I will not say in details, but if there was something serious, I would remember. They were somehow insignificant. In the process, the correct communication was already built, work with documents in the format in which we expected and at the level of services that we now have.
Now is the golden moment when we are absolutely delighted, we have Anastasia Morozova (senior specialist), with whom we work, and she is really wonderful, constantly in touch. We are on the same wavelength, it is very easy and comfortable to work together. Therefore, now is a good period and I have nothing to say – in my opinion, everything is perfect. Of course, this was not always the case, we had some moments, the employees who were responsible for our company changed.
When we had problems, shortcomings, mistakes both on your part and jointly, I always knew that I could call Ekaterina (Menshikova) and discuss this and could always count on a quick response and a prompt solution. It is very important. It’s great that there is such an attitude and willingness to react. The most important factor for me.
We have a contact person on the client side, we work together from the very beginning. We are as involved as possible, constantly in touch. On our side there is a specialist, a senior specialist and a payroll calculator. We carry out all the functionality from accounting to reporting, plus we prepare international reporting, calculate salaries, and do HR records management. And the KCR company itself is developing – the path towards unification of processes and automation has been chosen. There are requests for the convergence of Russian accounting with international standards, maintaining a single register of vendors, using global programs for maintaining accounting areas and, preferably, without duplication as much as possible. The process began last year.
Yes, that’s right. It is still not entirely clear to me how all this will function, how the accounts will be loaded while we still have it in work, but the process has already been established in most of our other countries and we will come to this soon.
For me, this is probably the most difficult question, because now everything is perfect. And when everything is going well, thoughts of improvement do not come to mind. The only thing I can say is, probably, to build a more efficient backup system during the absence of key employees from the project team. That is, so that this backup not only existed, but knew the nuances, unclosed tasks. So that a person clearly understands all the necessary tasks and the timing of their implementation.
So, well, I would call active-creative. For me, this is also one of the important points.
And you have this characteristic, despite the fact that you work with numbers, the majority of your employees we deal with are lively and creative. Anastasia calmly reacts to non-standard questions, this is also important for us. She knows how to interact with the outside world, and in particular with us.
We do not develop anything ourselves, we research the products of clients (pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies) with whom they come to us in various fields – oncology, cardiology, and a number of other nosologies. We work in a diverse environment in different directions with different drugs. Recently, we have grown mainly through outsourcing, since we have a large client and many employees work exclusively within the framework of this cooperation. Now the focus is shifting more to the development of internal projects of the company for our international clients – foreign companies that do not have representative offices in Russia. We are talking about clinical trials, in which we are entrusted to carry out a project from and to, the so-called full-service. Indeed, many processes are becoming electronic due to the situation with covid, we are developing new products and processes for remote monitoring of research centers, to improve interaction, to work well and effectively in the new reality.
The answer will be simple – because we are happy together. We are all people, and it is always important for people to work with people, and if there is absolutely no contact, then the rest will not be very much. I see on my own, because I have been in a relationship with my husband since school, and, of course, there were different periods, but I understand that the relationship between people and companies is built on the same principles. One of the toasts I say at friends’ weddings is “always talk to each other”. Problems begin when discontent accumulates. For me, this dialogue is continuous, and this openness and a dialogue is what helps to maintain a long and healthy relationship.
Personally, it is not difficult for me, since I have extensive experience of communicating with foreign companies, there are different abbreviations, I immediately heard and remembered. But I understand what you are talking about. I see that some employees have problems with this, especially they often confuse the letters C and S in places, sometimes they call you yuesemsi. We actually have funny stories with the name of the company too. Our name KCR historically originated from the name of the founder – Kiecana Clinical Research. But we also have a slogan – “Knowledge, Commitment, Results”. At the local level, many want to know what this means.
You know, I will not say anything new, this idea is based on what we talked about. This is openness to interaction, readiness to promptly resolve issues and problems. Customer focus is, of course, a hackneyed word. Many claim that they are, but they may not even understand what it really means.
I do not like to speak unfounded as a percentage, but it feels like it was so in 90% of cases. Customer focus has a place to be. Including in the form of tolerance for imperfections on the part of the client.