In this case study

A parent company was in the process of detangling and divesting a $3 billion, 6,000-person pharmaceutical organization, which had formed and grown inside the parent company for more than 65 years. The spun-off business unit would become an independent operating public corporation.

As part of the parent company, the pharma organization operated in 70 countries, with highly regulated activities spanning manufacturing, research and development, distribution, and sales. Business operations and IT were fully intertwined with the parent company.

Given the high degree of entanglement between the two entities and the likelihood of downstream impact on overall operations, the parent company understood that successfully spinning-off its pharma business posed a significant challenge.

Disentangling IT, building a new future

The pharmaceutical spin-off planned to retain only a portion of the parent company's site infrastructure. All other IT infrastructure for the newly divested company would need to be designed and built before the end of an agreed-upon 30-month Transition Services Agreement (TSA) period.

The parent company introduced WWT to the pharma spin-off's IT leaders as a recommended partner to advise and deliver the IT infrastructure stand-up and migration services.

Expected, compounding and unprecedented complexities

Not only was it massively daunting to stand up an entire IT infrastructure and completely migrate a $3B company's global commercial, manufacturing and R&D footprint within 30 months — it seemed like a never-ending chain of new hurdles cropped up every day.

Challenges included:

  • Current-state data between the two organizations was so intertwined, it was nearly impossible to determine what assets belonged to which organization.
  • The pharma spin-off did not have key IT staff hired, and when positions were filled, the new leaders had their own opinions on key IT direction and decisions.
  • Inherited network equipment was out of support and configurations did not match documentation.
  • The pharma spin-off had not yet established critical policies and procedures related to information security, quality assurance or change management.
  • Selecting and contracting with managed service providers was delayed because the spin-off's internal teams were competing for time with inundated legal and procurement teams.

To make the situation even more challenging, the pharma spin-off actually acquired a $7 billion company only 12 months after initiating their separation from the parent company. Moreover, the spin-off needed to fully integrate this new acquisition nine months before their original divestiture was slated to conclude.

As if those challenges weren't enough, the COVID-19 pandemic arose a year before the spin-off's TSA window was scheduled to close.

An advisory-based partnership committed to deadlines and outcomes

While each new challenge presented its own threat to fully separating two organizations on time, WWT was committed to creatively partnering with both entities to find a way through each new challenge and deadline.

To begin this complex journey, we established an Enterprise Architecture framework as the foundation of the spin-off's new IT infrastructure program.

WWT Enterprise Architecture framework

Following this alignment, WWT's M&A team of cross-discipline experts met with the spin-off's executives to create guiding principles, map capabilities, build strategies, and form roadmaps and standards for the program. Learnings from these critical steps helped WWT design the initial reference architectures for the new IT infrastructure build.

We then formed a strategic M&A delivery team, pulling in WWT advisory and execution experts skilled in technical domain knowledge, business and problem-solving capabilities, and project management. This team elevated key discussion, decision and program inflection points to the new entity's leaders. They also showcased top solution options while providing advisory insights relative to the decision process across all relevant technology domains.

WWT leveraged our extensive knowledge and deep experience with thousands of technology products and partners across industries to help the pharma spin-off make fundamental and strategic decisions about its new IT infrastructure.

List of thirteen technology domains involved in the IT infrastructure build.
Technology domains involved in the IT infrastructure build
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Key insight: Enterprise architecture

The disciplined use of WWT's Enterprise Architecture framework — plus a combination of advisory and execution teams spanning technical, business and project management functions — grounded the program in a clear direction, improved decision-making and made available a comprehensive well of resources. This end-to-end approach helped us holistically address each set of tasks, outcomes and deadlines as they arose.

De-risking deployments while increasing visibility

As part of the greenfield IT infrastructure build, WWT leveraged our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to design and test various integrated technologies before arriving at a proven and scalable solution for the pharma spin-off.

We performed all necessary configuration activities in WWT's Integration Centers to reduce deployment risks and relieve on-site space concerns.

After designing and optimizing a vendor strategy to balance cost, capability and solution feasibility, WWT leveraged our global supply chain (including more than 20 global partners) to accelerate equipment delivery amidst a slew of COVID-related international hardware shortages and global shipping disruptions.

Next, WWT created data-driven analytical models to form dynamic migration plans that were able to flex locations, timing, and on-site vs. virtual teams based on device availability, critical business constraints and local quarantine/lockdown requirements (among a myriad of other constraints).

We then deployed advanced technologies, such as mixed reality devices and custom automation tools, to minimize travel, expedite migrations and improve data quality.

WWT bridged support gaps with multiple managed service providers, and we conducted full transition of knowledge and hypercare support during service provider onboarding.

Due to the interconnected and dependent nature of the program tasks, WWT created sophisticated web-based project plans, dependency mapping, risk and issues management tools, plus custom dashboards to give team members, client leads and spin-off executives real-time access to program delivery metrics.

We also provided rigorous program governance at the workstream, program leadership and client executive levels on a weekly basis, curating critical, actionable information for the associated audiences. 

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Key insight: Power of the ATC

By leveraging our unique ATC innovation ecosystem, supply chain and integration services, and proprietary delivery modeling and management tools, WWT was able to complete all migrations on time and deliver a fully operational IT infrastructure — despite significant global challenges.

Successful IT spin-off and build, TSA deadlines met

WWT's partnership with the newly divested spin-off resulted in the complete stand-up of IT infrastructure to support the original $3B business and the full migration and transition away from the parent company before the conclusion of the 30-month TSA.

An overview slide image outlining all of the outcomes from WWT's successful spin-off project.
Outcomes snapshot

WWT provided services across essentially every IT domain — from strategy through execution, from transition through long-term support. WWT completed all migrations on-time during a global pandemic.

Infographic slide outlining the details of the technology deployments required during WWT's divestiture project.
Program milestone details
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Key insight: Partnership built on trust

Leading experts claimed the 30-month endeavor was highly unlikely to succeed on time, and that was before (a) the spin-off's decision to acquire a $7B company during the TSA window and (b) the pandemic complicated everything from on-site work to global supply chains. The close-knit partnership between WWT and the divested company overcame the impossible, saving the spin-off an estimated $28 million in IT service and penalty fees.

At the conclusion of the program, the executives of the newly independent company shared this message with WWT:

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