Pharma R&D Organization Adopts PM Technology to Drive Rigorous Resource Management
Project Assistants’ Case Studies
Situation Situation
AstraZeneca (AZ) is a multi-national pharmaceuticals research and manufacturing organization formed by a “merger of equals” between Astra AB and Zeneca Group PLC. The combined company has manufacturing operations at 34 sites in 19 countries, sales operations in 100 countries, and R&D facilities in Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S.

AZ’s R&D is a globally integrated, project-driven organization which has over 150 R&D projects in the pipeline including 53 new chemical entities, seven of which are in late stage development. 14 new candidate drugs were identified, three each in the inflammation and cardiovascular research areas, two each in oncology, gastrointestinal and pain control, and one each in central nervous system and respiratory.

AstraZeneca is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, providing innovative, effective medicines for serious medical conditions, focused on seven important medical areas: cancer, cardiovascular, central nervous system, gastrointestinal, infection, pain control and anesthesia, and respiratory.

AZ is committed to continued innovation, close customer relationships, people development, partnerships and a responsible approach to business.

The Pharmaceutical Industry Challenge

Discovering and commercializing effective new disease-fighting drugs while working against patent time constraints, with limited human and financial resources.

The AstraZeneca Challenge

AZ faces the unique dual challenge of constructing a new corporate culture from two healthy but very different predecessor organizations while continuing to discover and commercialize important drugs. With research activities in six different locations in three different countries, all at different stages in the drug development pipeline, and legacy systems that dispersed important information, information collection and management becomes a major challenge. The AZ U.S. Drug Development (USDD) organization especially has the need to see what people are working on across the organization, and finds it difficult to identify and report on their project work. The result is that limited resources are often overallocated to the point that expensive delays can only be avoided by heroic bursts of activity which may not be sustainable.

AZ had the advantage of a standard project management tool, Microsoft Project 98, already in use in both parent organizations. USDD realized that an effective approach to project management maturation would be to pair project management experts with clinical experts through implementation of a project management office. USDD also decided to use the familiar Microsoft Project platform to build a new, shared project management culture through development of a standard language and methodology based on Microsoft Project.
Solution Solution
1. USDD approached Project Assistants to help create the new desired project management culture. The first phase featured extensive training in project management theory and the use of Microsoft Project to manage R&D projects.

  • Project Assistants and Microsoft are assisting USDD with executing the plan by helping to build the common language, procedures, and tools necessary to create a common approach to the developing Project Management Infrastructure.
  • The solution also included on-site consultants and training in the leadership skills necessary for successful project management in a matrixed environment.

Business Benefits

  • Ensure success by engaging experts with a proven track record in change management and project management.
  • Develop and follow a proven methodology to achieve development of a new organizational culture built around your work management and project management objectives.

2. Once the shared culture and common language was in place, Project Assistants encouraged the development of a program management plan to track costs and resources across the organization through adoption of an enterprise project product.

  • View a resource’s total scheduled work by time period
  • View a resource’s total actual work by time period
  • View a resource’s total remaining availability by time period
  • View a resource’s utilization by time period

Business Benefits

  • Single source of data for management reporting
  • All work performed is accounted for
  • Single source for resource loading information
  • Easier to spot bottlenecks in the R&D project process

3. Project Assistants recommended adopting the eLabor Enterprise Project product to provide the desired functions along with future scalability, since it was anticipated that future versions of Project would incorporate those Enterprise Project functions, making migration easy.

  • Microsoft Project allows access to the full set of eLabor features
  • Timesheet functionality supports cost tracking
  • Resource utilization is clarified across all projects

Business Benefits

  • Improved resource planning and utilization
  • Progress tracking tools support meeting time timelines
  • Increased availability of information supports prioritization of projects by profitability
  • Faster time-to-market improves cash flow from ethical pharmaceutical sales

4. Project Assistants established ongoing mentoring and project review processes to increase individual and organizational learning.

  • Process evaluation leads to overall quality improvement
  • External support minimizes any sense of “their way” versus “our way” in the merged organization
  • Individual capabilities support the project management maturity process

Business Benefits

  • Improved quality of the project process
  • Enhanced quality of project outcomes
  • Better acceptance of a “third way” approach to a common culture
  • Increased individual motivation and empowerment through clearer communication of job responsibilities and project goals and authority