Case Study

Leveraging Investigator Grant Payment Practices To Enhance Sponsor-Site Relationships

One of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca, has over 67,000 employees. Among those are about 13,000 at 17 principal research and development centers in eight countries — including the United States. When Ellis Wilson assumed the role of Senior Director for Study Delivery in the United States in 2006, his Study Delivery Leaders (SDLs) made something very clear: “They told me, ‘If you don’t do anything else in your new job, please find a better approach to managing and executing investigator payments. That’s a job that’s driving us crazy. We’re not accountants, and it takes an enormous amount of our time.’”

It was a request that Wilson took very seriously — and ultimately addressed through an innovative outsourced solution that has revolutionized the way investigator grant payments are managed in the United States.


Wilson invested significant time in understanding the current approach to handling investigator grant payments. He also sought to identify best practices that were already in use. He soon discovered that across the United States, most of the company’s SDLs were handling this business process the same way:

  • Lack of standardized processes and systems for managing investigative site grant payments
    • Manual, paper-based financial processes a burden to Study Delivery Leaders (SDLs)
  • Inefficient processes often cause negative impact to study focus and deliverables, and breed dissatisfaction at the site level
  • Ongoing goal of positioning AstraZeneca as a “sponsor of choice” to support site recruitment and retention while enhancing investigator relationship management
  • The need to address financial reporting and compliance
    • Increasing pressures to control costs and manage spend
    • Growing burden on finance, operations and data management to meet increasing compliance reporting demands, such as State Gift Laws, Sarbanes-Oxley and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) requirements
    • Existing systems not conducive to efficient financial reporting and compliance management


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