ALM is predictable, knowing, application lifecycle mangement, a gamechanger



Marco Frias, Head of IT:

”With Cittros you always know where you are”

Predictability is key! A general fact to any global business – in particular companies operating in strictly regulated industries with security compliance standards second to none.      


By Henrik Kastoft, freelance journalist

A plant needs water and sunlight to flourish and grow. For IT technology the water and sunlight manifest as new codes and regular upgrades from tech giants. Routine maintenance will keep the IT software operational, fit for purpose, and secure.


However, even a negligible new code, feature or upgrade may cause severe disfunction if introduced to end-users who are not properly prepared. In essence, IT technology routine maintenance that is launched to keep systems safe and secure may in fact disrupt system functionality from time to time. With consequences ranking from insignificant to very harmful indeed.


“The biggest upgrade risk is in fact the risk of ignorance and not knowing,” says Marco Frias, Head of IT at VectivBio in Basel, Switzerland. VectivBio was a global clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on transforming and improving the lives of patients with severe rare conditions – in 2023 acquired by US pharma company Ironwood Pharmaceuticals headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.


A huge benefit

Over the past couple of years Marco Frias and his IT department has cooperated closely with Cittros in Denmark and North Macedonia to minimize any IT upgrade risk in the corporate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The risk management process has an acronym of its own: Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).


“Corporate IT software systems are massive and highly complex structures. Without an application lifecycle management process in place, it is difficult to understand in every relevant detail what exactly new codes and features in upcoming upgrades might eventually imply”.


“The ALM process is a huge benefit to us. As soon as the biannual Microsoft Dynamics 365 upgrades and new features are announced we start preparing and testing together with Cittros. Finally, when preparations and tests leave us confident, we accept configurations knowing for sure they will fit in well and work properly in every aspect when implemented,” Marco Frias explains.


Above and beyond

Like other businesses global pharmaceutical enterprises are subject to very strict rules and regulation. In financial aspects compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act – a US federal law sweeping auditing and financial regulation for public companies to protect shareholders, employees and the public from accounting errors and fraudulent financial practices – is one.


“Without a proper ALM process in place worst case scenario could leave our invoice system functionality compromised because of a new Microsoft Dynamics 365 feature or code-change. With application lifecycle management as an integrated way of working we map configurations, test, and act proactively in due time”.


With regards to ALM and ever stricter international rules and regulation the external predecessor to Cittros was not fit for purpose.

“In fact, it was a nightmare. We were introduced to Cittros two years ago and they have been our application lifecycle management vendor ever since. Their focus on quality towards customers is above and beyond. Cittros proved to us that the ALM process and system is not an obstacle rather a logic, substantial, and beneficial way of working”.


“On a more personal level the loyalty and humbleness of the Cittros employees in Copenhagen and Skopje is evident. They are very professional and decent people – a perfect match for us”.


A gamechanger

In retrospect, Marco Frias is 100% confident that ALM is a security and liability measure that manifest itself as a long-term cost-saver as well:


“Without any doubt whatsoever. The investment having application lifecycle management procedures in place saves us from unnecessary costs much higher than the investment itself. Not to mention the value of predictability, liability, and full compliance in daily operations”.


With his team based in Basel, Switzerland, it has proven manageable to work across borders with Cittros-offices in Denmark as well as North Macedonia. Whenever urgent matters arise external assistance is just a brief phone call or a swift e-mail away. The ALM planning and implementation process was originally conducted in face-to-face meetings and subsequent daily operation is managed via teleconferences twice a month.


In fact, the pan-European set-up may well have benefitted from what could eventually be a characteristic business culture from abroad:


“I guess the direct, informal, and very straightforward approach we experience working with Cittros may indeed be a Danish business culture thing. I like it – and so does my team. It does propel an open and highly professional work environment and goes for Thomas Meede and Thomas Jensen in Copenhagen as well as Vera Temkov in Skopje. A straightforward approach brings you in a sweet spot: You always know where you are! Working with Cittros on application lifecycle management has indeed been a gamechanger for us,” is the concluding remark from Marco Frias in Basel, Switzerland.

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: IRWD), an S&P SmallCap 600® company, is a leading gastrointestinal (GI) healthcare company on a mission to advance the treatment of GI diseases and redefine the standard of care for GI patients.


Ironwood Pharmaceuticals are pioneers in the development of LINZESS® (linaclotide), which is the US branded prescription market leader for adults with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation in mediatric patients aged 6-17 years old. Ironwood Pharmaceuticals is also advancing apraglutide, a next-generation, long-acting synthetic GLP-2 analog being developed for rare gastrointestinal diseases, including short bowel syndrome with intestinal failure (SBS-IF), as well as several earlier stage assets.


Building upon a history of GI innovation Ironwood Pharmaceuticals keep patients at the heart of its R&D and commercialization efforts to reduce the burden of GI diseases and address significant unmet need. Founded in 1998, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, with a site in Basel, Switzerland.


VectivBio was a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative treatments for severe rare conditions for which there is a significant unmet medical need. The product candidate was apraglutide, which is a next generation, long-acting synthetic therapeutic treatment initially focused on short bowel syndrome.


As part of the Ironwood Pharmaceuticals 2023 acquisition the VectivBio ERP-system will eventually change from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance to SAP SE. In that transformation the application lifecycle management role for Cittros will change as well. One possible outcome for Cittros is to be responsible for safeguarding all Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance data in a digital 10-year back-up functionality.    


Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc





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