Sam Howard is the Senior Program Manager at Dendreon Pharmaceuticals, one of the world’s leading...
How to Use Project Portfolio Management to Solve Project Disruptions
Life science organizations have always encountered relentless project disruptions on both an internal and external basis. External factors, such as changing technologies, regulatory uncertainty, industry consolidation, supply chain shortages, and even significant consumer shifts are just a few of the many factors that can quickly make ripples (or seemingly seismic waves) across ongoing campaigns. Internal disturbances can also prompt significant project shifts and pivots. Unexpected lack of funding, limited talented pools, upswings in costs and complexities, and low adoption success mark some of the many factors that may create interruptions and impact outcomes.
The Global Pandemic Created External and Internal Disruptions for Life Science Companies
The global pandemic caused both external and internal disruptions with alarming frequency in life science organizations. COVID-19 caused significant, and almost instantaneous, interruptions for projects at every phase. Life science leaders quickly found themselves navigating their teams and initiatives through varying degrees of flux.
One thing the pandemic has taught life science organizations: it’s impossible to anticipate every potential scenario in any given set of circumstances. As a result, it’s critical to develop a strategy for assessing potential interruptions, realigning resources, and minimizing risk when the unexpected occurs. A cohesive project portfolio management solution helps groups prepare for potential upheaval and optimize outcomes.
Implementing PPM Best Practices to Streamline Interruptions and Restarts
Project portfolio management (PPM) yields multiple benefits in any marketplace or economic condition. An effective PPM practice can prove invaluable during disruptions to get the initiative back on track quickly. Some PPM standards to employ to navigate interruptions include:
Protect Project Memory (Document, Document, Document)
Holding patterns happen. Whatever the cause of the halt, life science companies should assume that, eventually, these initiatives will restart. As soon as it's placed on hold, the team should spring into action, documenting everything needed to protect project memory, including status, task assignment, risks, issues, stakeholders, and roles.
Establish a Restart Plan
Use the newly-documented project details to develop a project restart plan that keeps the initiative on everyone's priority radar. When creating the plan, consider a detailed outline of the current state, relevant workflows, restart phases, and a communication plan. Most importantly, the restart should also include lessons learned to avoid future disruptions.
Once the project resumes, life science leaders can use PPM best practices for success when relaunching. Before the restart, consider possible relearning and reworking needed for the team. Also, update stakeholders, including new or changed information on technologies, skills, objectives, and allocations. Finally, set and manage expectations with all resources to maintain strategic alignment as the project begins moving forward.
Consider Resource Reallocation
Brief interruptions don't typically require resource redistribution. However, an initiative may undergo a prolonged halt. If so, it's important to discuss if team members with an unexpected increase in bandwidth are able to contribute to other engagements for optimized efficiencies during the downtime.
It may seem counterintuitive to communicate about a project on hold. However, consistent, transparent engagement is essential during periods of disruption. Schedule regular meetings and/or communications to give stakeholders updates and ensure they have the information needed to hit the ground running when things do finally pick up.
Enterey’s PPM Solutions Address External and Internal Disruptions
Enterey's project management consultants develop and implement innovative PPM strategies to help life science companies navigate through disruption and drive initiatives across the finish line. Contact us today to learn more about our PPM approach and how people drive results. Download our PPM assessment tool for insight into opportunities for improvement in your portfolios.