Magazine Article | December 7, 2010

Pharma & Biotech Product Development Challenge: Moving Sideways To Get Ahead

Source: Life Science Leader

By Bill Allbee, PMP, founder & principal consultant, ABS Pharma Projects, LLC

Life sciences product development has been described as navigating a path through a valley of death. To remain highly competitive, it is common to develop strategic outsourcing partnerships that fill development requirements. Can operational processes help mitigate the potential risk of schedule delays and cost overruns? How can managers see opportunities that may otherwise be missed to implement optimized alliance efficiencies that can improve the odds of success?

Shifting Business Model
With an ever-increasing utilization of third-party organizations supporting development projects, it is important that project managers and teams have a solid alliance management strategy in place. In today’s competitive environment, alliances are critical, if not essential, for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to optimize synergies and harmonize deficiencies in order to develop novel technologies. Companies must maximize their alliance management capabilities and optimize their alliance competency in order to bring new drugs to the market successfully, while minimizing the potential for failure.

Roadmap To Success: Challenge of Collaboration
Outsourcing is an increasingly important tool for pharmaceutical companies as they seek to reduce internal costs and optimize resources for drug development. Alliances suffer due to misunderstood governance, relationship management, and most importantly, ineffective communication. The use of qualified project managers provides a competitive advantage by managing communication networks and maintaining an open dialog with both internal project stakeholders and strategic partners. The foundation of strategic partnerships is to leverage the resources of both parties to produce a win-win relationship. How can the partnership take advantage of the different assets and capabilities of each other? How to use metrics, standardization, and process flow to develop, create, and optimize a model of continuous improvement? What is the best way to utilize each other’s capabilities? Cutting edge practices foster and nurture a win-win partnering mindset. To build on a common ground, alliance managers need to develop an alliance management plan. Included in the plan should be, most importantly, the communication module. Additional modules incorporate governance, risk, scope, and schedule and resource management. When developed and used, the plan will become a valuable asset in managing development projects which can lead to a more productive and healthier relationship between both companies.

A Case Study Example
An early-stage life sciences company was developing an innovative technology. The leadership team was investing considerable effort in seeking financial support. An alliance management plan was developed that provided direction for key stakeholders. The company put a plan in place to manage strategic partnerships. After effective implementation, productivity improved, team dialog increased, and project stakeholders engaged in a more open and vigorous management and scientific interface. Alliance value is created through effective project management of the partner relationship demonstrated by implementation of an alliance management plan. Project management practices have become, and will continue to provide, a competitive advantage in delivering value to life sciences organizations.