Functional service provider (FSP) partnerships have been gaining traction in recent years because of their potential to increase efficiency and flexibility in outsourcing without compromising quality. Well-defined services within the scope of a clinical trial project or program (e.g. data management, biostatistics, or medical writing) are good candidates for FSP outsourcing. By outsourcing individual functional services, sponsor companies gain freedom they might not have in a traditional preferred provider relationship or when outsourcing an entire study. However, many factors contribute to a successful FSP relationship, and when evaluating CROs as potential FSP partners, sponsors should look for certain qualities.
First, you must understand the difference between FSP and full-service outsourcing. Traditionally, sponsors have outsourced full-service responsibilities to CROs for their clinical trials, often within the scope of a preferred provider relationship. Recently, some sponsors have moved away from these kinds of relationships toward a “cafeteria-style” outsourcing model, or FSP relationships. In this model, you can pick and choose which services to outsource to which CRO based on the CRO’s areas of expertise.