Choosing the right CDMO partner

10.05.23 Articles

Choosing the right CDMO is essential to ensure the success of your project. But is there a magic formula for selecting the right partner?

We turned to members of the Lead Candidate community to find out. This is what they had to say.

Technical Capabilities & Relevant Experience

Perhaps the most obvious thing to evaluate are the capabilities and experience of an organisation. Understanding their track record with similar projects, what challenges they have faced in the past, and how they overcame them. What technology do they use, what are their processes like, and what’s their regulatory compliance history?

Capacity & Resources

Having the right technical capability is one thing, but you also need to understand and assess the capacity and resources of a CDMO. Capacity is not just a percentage on a production plan. You need to investigate more aspects, such as:

  • Material supply
  • Storage
  • Project lead time
  • Infrastructure
  • How they may have managed previous capacity requirements

With regards to resources, employees are an intrinsic factor. Not just how many people they have today, but also what they can access in order to support demand. Make sure your CDMO partner can clearly evidence a robust staffing plan, one that’s been tried and tested.


When partnering with a CDMO, it is also important to consider the associated investment. True partnership means total transparency and shared understanding when it comes to supporting an investment. The important factor here is not just about your own cost; it’s making sure your CDMO partner has the investment bandwidth too.


Cultural alignment has become the unsung hero of productive outsourcing relationships across multiple sectors, and pharma is no different. Partners don’t need to have identical operating cultures. In fact, we’d be concerned if they did! But they do need to complement each other. Having that cultural ‘fit’, a meeting of minds on values and mission, if often the secret ingredient that delivers success.


The concept of VUCA isn’t new, but it’s more relevant than ever today. Finding a partner who can weather these challenges through adaptability, agility and responsiveness is so important.

Learn more about VUCA here.


Last but not least, it’s important to consider the long-term goals and the added value when selecting a CDMO partner. Many organisations offer additional services such as, research & development support or global product distribution. If possible, look beyond immediate plans and consider if your future ambitions align.

Final thoughts

What we learned from the Lead Candidate community is that technical capability must be the minimum expectation and not your only selection criteria. In today’s landscape, arguably of greater importance is resources, financial stability, a CDMO’s ability to operate in a VUCA world and the cultural “fit”.

What is clear is that partnering with the right CDMO partner can provide you with significant competitive advantage. But make sure you invest the time, resource, and consideration at the outset. The cost of getting your selection wrong doesn’t bear thinking about.

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