The accurate medical review of all communications is a key pillar in all our work.

Our clients rely upon this step to ensure compliance, which not only makes sure all work is accurate, it helps to create and build brands in the correct manner.

The process of putting this work through review however, can be cumbersome. Here are just a few tips and tricks that we’ve learnt over the 300+ jobs we’ve uploaded in 2019 (more of our yearly numbers here). Some will resonate with agencies, others with medics and brand managers, and perhaps even Veeva can acknowledge opportunities to improve. 

I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to put it down on paper as any improved efficiency in work flows has a positive knock-on effect felt by all. The overall experience is positive, and this article is not designed to be negative – rather it is a quest for improvement!

3 key frustrations from an agency uploading/management perspective – and what we can do about them

  1. Time: Often there is time pressure to upload projects quickly, and there are no ways to cut corners because any inaccuracies will likely cause additional review rounds, thus defeating the purpose. 
    • Solution: build enough time in to our timelines to upload thoroughly, and help our clients understand that this is typically a time-consuming task. A 75 page slide deck with two or three references per slide can take as much as a day to upload depending on the complexity.
  2. Referencing anchors from similar jobs – unable to import: Surely this is the biggest frustration on the move from Zinc to Veeva? The inability to drag references highlighted in previous jobs into new ones, especially those that perhaps have the exact same content in sections, causes unnecessary delays.
    • Solution: Veeva need to help here…
  3. The review process: It’s vital that all reviews are thorough and analyse all claims. We can also completely understand the frustration if references aren’t accurately anchored (see points 1&2). The biggest issue we often encounter is ambiguity in feedback/comments – a medical review comment may need clarity from the brand manager, but just sending it back to the agency without reviewing/clarifying the amend can cause delays because we have to then ‘take them offline’ to understand what’s required before heading back into the studio/medical writing teams.
    • Solution: spending 5/10 more minutes reviewing internal/medical comments and clarifying can have a huge impact on the speed of a job. It’s like referencing on point 1 – spending a fraction more time to get it right first time, results in huge gains in efficiency. Across 300 jobs, one less round of review is time saved, money saved for our clients, and happier people all around!

I’m sure you agree we could all be better at this process, and we are always looking for ways to improve. If you have any thoughts or feedback on Promomats, we’d love to hear from you. Email me directly on

A real passion of mine is creative effectiveness – does the work we produce work? At Dice it’s one of our 4 core pillars in creating what we call Pharmacohesion – measurement. 

Too often in this industry a job is delivered, sent live, and the next opportunity to look at its impact is in 12 months’ time (or longer). As an industry we don’t measure our work enough.

It’s no doubt a factor of every project’s journey through the rigorous approval process, a sense of relief comes across everyone at completion and the next project needs to get started right away.

This is a trap we all fall in to. We should all be doing our utmost to avoid it.

Every sales aid and every major project should be iterative; constantly requiring tweaking and improvement over an extended period. I’m not suggesting that we do a new update every month, but wouldn’t it make sense to invest more time and effort in making our existing work more powerful, uncovering new insights and building future strategy and executions from a position of knowledge of what works and what hasn’t quite achieved our goal?

Perhaps this is an industry sensitivity, a lack of willingness to attach metrics to individual projects, rather than the brand’s performance in general. But if I could ask for one hope in the next decade, it’s that more accountability is put on the work and the projects we do. It will strengthen client-agency relationships, and will benefit the brands (and companies) that we love working on.

The trend to digital communications has always allowed for more analysis, which is welcomed, but we should also use this opportunity to be more rigorous in our attitude towards measuring success. 

The PM Society Awards has always been the UK’s pre-eminent pharma industry awards, and yet not one category includes any judging criteria around effectiveness. Only the PM Digital Awards carry any effectiveness criteria. This misses the point, as we should celebrate the fact that great craft, great creative, great ideas ALL make a positive difference in the success of the brands we work on. 

We must continue to focus on growing brands and not being caught thinking in the short term about the next project we must deliver. Don’t just take my word for it – The IPA have covered this extensively, but their most recent follow-up report is troubling and speaks to my views above.
I’m making it my personal mission to ensure more analysis is undertaken on more projects. I would be very happy to discuss this with anyone interested in how we can make this happen.

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