Cross Industry Package Development

A Newcomer’s Perspective

Stefan Thoma



  • Shift to open source solutions, particularly R

  • End-to-end solution is required

  • Pharmaverse

  • Cross-industry development


  • Part of the clinical reporting solution under Pharmaverse
  • admiral covers the creation of ADaM data


Approach [1]

  • Act quickly:
    • Communicate early
    • Open source early
      • Focus on developing for general use
    • Get other companies & community involved

Approach [2]

  • Permissive and jointly owned license
    • Admiral won’t stop if one company exits
    • Monetisation of code not possible
    • Responsibility for maintenance
      • Package is never “done”


  • One core package
    • Plus package for therapeutic area.
    • admiralonco, admiralvaccine, admiralophtha
    • Plus internal company package
    • Plus working groups
  • Consistent interface and design across all packages
    • Ensured via developers guide and CICD
    • Overlap of developers between packages
  • Modularity + templates for most more complex tasks


Development workflow [1]

  • GitHub repository is the centerpiece
  • Every request / fix / improvement starts as an issue
  • Weekly stand-up meetings
    • Check-in on progress
    • Discuss priorities for current release
      • Product lead (Roche) & technical lead (GSK)
    • Assign issues from the backlog
    • Strategy discussions
  • Quarterly releases

Development workflow [2]

Project board


For Roche

  • 10 Devs for the price of 3
  • Seat at the table - shape the product
  • No total development control
  • Use of R attracts diverse talent

Workplace [1]

  • Broader definition of a statistical programmer

  • Shared language between stats and statistical programmers

  • Open source development means transparency

    • Work done on admiral – recognition
    • Issues, errors and corrections

Workplace [2]

  • Knowledge is more easily transferable to other companies
  • Less hierarchies in dev team (different companies)
  • Harder to get recognition, no manager present
  • Autonomous work - everyone can chose which issues they want to work
  • Expanding network across companies
  • Leadership opportunities outside of the company


  • Open source and cross industry collaboration when done well:
    • Is more efficient
    • Opens horizons
    • Expands the job description of statistical programmers
    • Makes for an attractive workplace (at least for me…)

Doing now what patients need next