Saving Millions by Avoiding Compliance Penalties with Acia Stankova at PPD

Saving Millions by Avoiding Compliance Penalties with Acia Stankova at PPD

Published By : Cydney McCollum November 8, 2022

Saving Millions by Avoiding Compliance Penalties with Acia Stankova at PPD


During Opex, Host Jimmy A. Hewitt had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Acia Stankova, Manager of Business Transformation at PPD, a Thermo Fisher Scientific Company. Acia and her team focus their efforts on increasing customer satisfaction for external customers and internal customers through process improvement and automation. Tune in to hear Acias story, the amount of tangible business value that is tied to employee satisfaction, and more!

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GUEST BACKGROUND: Acia Stankova, Business Transformation Lead at PPD, a Thermo Fisher Company

Experience in the world of process improvement

Her team focuses on increasing customer satisfaction for internal and external customers through process improvement and automation

Her team ties business value to employee satisfaction


Been at the company for ~5 years

Previous experience was in laboratories as a medical technologist

Started developing her skills in performance optimization and business transformation

Wanted to change the world in our professional settings

  • Laboratories
  • Other business units

Has theoretical and practical knowledge

Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation: American supplier of scientific instrumentation, reagents and consumables, and software services

  • 130,000+ employees
  • PPD (Pharmaceutical Product Development): global central laboratory
    • Global contract research organization (CRO) providing comprehensive, integrated drug development, laboratory, and lifecycle management services
    • ~800 employees
    • Business unit that Acia works for to transform
    • Also collaborates with all other business transformation leaders, managers, and directors

Business Transformation:

Business Transformation definitions:

  • Host (Jimmy Hewitt) Definition:
    • 5 pillars of business transformation includes:
      • Hyperautomation
      • Business Strategy
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Software Engineering
      • and Change Management
  • Guest (Acia Stankova) Definition Involves:
    • Change Management
    • Strategic Transformation
    • Market Share Transformation
    • and Mindset Transformation
    • Mindset Transformation: not from the point of Change Management, but from the point that you want people to get involved on their own
      • You should not give someone a vision; you should wait for people to develop their own vision and merge with the corporate vision
      • Forms a new place for them to grow and see how they can develop
      • Much more likely to work towards creating a proper vision as opposed to telling someone what the vision is
    • Vision Example:
      • Corporate Vision: need a better way to present information to clients without traveling
        • Improve client experience and .Improve communication with client
      • Team vision: Acia encouraged brainstorming, creativity, and imagination for solutions. No restrictions on how to do it
        • Individual on Acia’s team brought up process mapping with additional elements
          • Visual Components
          • PowerPoint template
          • Characters
        • Continuous improvement using feedback from clients to establish a final product
PPD Business Transformation:


2. 5 years old

  • 30-40% of business: improving the client experience and the communication with clients
  • 60-70% of business: internal processes
    • Internal projects with internal clients
    • Stakeholders with different business transformation units
    • One-on-one work with each laboratory to ensure success
  • Employee satisfaction
    • Speak directly to employees
    • Become a bridge between employee and manager
    • Employees have the answers
  • Map current and future employee processes and bring the results to leadership
    • Map processes and identify opportunities to improve

Business Transformation Process:

  • Someone submits a request to Acia’s team
  • Exploratory forms are filled out to uncover details
    • 20-question template
    • Example question topics: Current state, future state, what is going to change, what will be accomplished for stakeholders, will it save time, will it save money, where is the pain, yhy is there pain, etc. Not just about money!
    • One-on-one meetings:
      • Questions are sent ahead of time so provoke thought but then the team sits one-on-one with client to answer all the questions
      • The first initial meeting it the most important part of the process
    • Priority: The first 5 questions result in what order the requests are taken
      • Some circumstantial discretion is involved
      • Resources are limited
      • Can only do one project at a time
      • Profitability, impact, size, time, money, etc. are considered
      • Expertise in the industry is involved in the decision-making process
    • Give leadership final report of the whole improvement
      • Quantify what they saved by measuring the before and after
Use case:


  • Process: Form completion and submission to document and investigate events
    • Took 2 hours to complete
    • New employees were not experienced, which led to human error
    • 80-90% of time errors were found in the process
  • Business was not complying with some of the federal agents that certified the company due to incorrect data
    • Business could be shut down
    • Paid fees to government agencies for having incorrect data
    • 140 events a year, each costing $2-3,000
  • Backlog of non-compliant case findings from 2016 that were never closed


  • Start with the key members and defined the entire process
    • Supervisor and subject matter experts
  • Simplified the process
  • Made it more automatic
    • SharePoint
    • Auto-populated fields


  • Errors found only 10-15% of the time, compared to 80-90%
  • Process takes 30 minutes instead of 2 hours
  • Huge improvement
  • Closed all outstanding case findings from 2016 till current day in one year
  • Current on all processes
  • Simplified the overall process
  • Saved millions of dollars in fees to government for incorrect data
  • “[Employees] have the answers. They just maybe don’t have the way of presenting it. So, we sit, we map what we have, we show the difference in what [the employees] want to do, and we run it by the leadership and [hear] ‘Mmm that’s a great idea.’ It’s the small things…We do the small things. We make the little guys happy, and when they’re happy, they do their best. They give their 200%….and we all win.”- Acia Stankova

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