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Project Management in Pharma

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Freddie Bennet waterfall, agile, pharma...

Project Management is an extrememly important skill for any industry and pharma is no different. Slow-drug development timelines, quality requirements, and rigid work processes are being replaced by Agile ways of working. This style of managing teams is helping businesses speed up their processes and be more customer focused, instead of being in ridgid flow that can limit innovation. Largely for pharma businesses, being more agile has allowed for digital transformation projects to aid the process, using technology to create efficiencies.

Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies have used the 'Waterfall' structure, in which activities are broken into clear, sequential phases. This is to be expected given the need for GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), in a highly regimented environment where correct execution and delivery is absolutely critical.

In the last few years however, major players in the pharmaceutical industry have been migrating to an Agile methodology, in which the traditionally structured Waterfall methodology is being replaced by a more flexible, cutting-edge way of working, incorporating creativity and collaboration across units.

 

How it works:

Agile is a cooperation lead, focused process to deliver a project in less time, lower cost without compromising on quality.

  • Sprints

This is the continuous development cycle and usually lasts 2-4weeks. Sprint goal is set, a sprint backlog of tasks to achieve this goal, and the race starts after planning sessions to organise the flow of the project.

  • Scrum - Daily stand up meetings

Meeting for 5-10minutes each morning, traditionally whilst standing so that team members can sync and troubleshoot issues to complete work on time. Questions to cover:

What did I do yesterday? What am I planning to do today? Is there anything holding me back?

At this time you can also go over the visual scrum board to help people work through projects and hold everyone accountable. This has a knock on effect to make people want to close down projects to avoid the same boring update each day.

  • Cross-functional teams

CEO’s, developers, tech teams, scientists, marketing, sales etc, all play a part in a project delivering successfully. Having all these people working together can lead to a variety of ideas being shared, through different knowledge backgrounds, resulting in excellent innovation. Ideation sessions with all these teams is an excellent way to innovate.

 

The results?

Increases in portfolio efficiency, RnD productivity, and customer satisfaction increases. You can tailor products to audiences wants and needs, and less time spent going off in tangents.

Due to having a highly collaborative culture and speeding up the process there’s been huge knock on effects with workplace satisfaction too at some of the larger businesses adopting this strategy.

What are your thoughts on the adoption of agile into pharma?

 

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