Improving Project Management Capability in GlaxoSmithKline
HQ Location: Brentford, England
Employee Size: Over 99,000 world-wide
Activity: Manufactures drugs and vaccines
Leading pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has a very clear mission: to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For GSK and its 100,000 employees around the world, turning this mission into a reality requires the management of many large-scale medicine discovery and development projects—projects that can typically run the course of a decade, include a broad range of business units and consume vast amounts of resources.
In 2006, GSK Research and Development (R&D) launched its iPlan initiative, a global programme sponsored at the highest levels of management. The initiative sought to improve people capabilities, processes, enabling technologies and support services to deliver integrated project and portfolio planning.
Key aspects of the approach include:
- Defining the planning process, responsibilities and key practices
- Live piloting the new processes, practices, work breakdown structures and IT enablers within various medicine development teams to learn, refine and confirm the effectiveness of the changes
- Extensive project management education and development
- Selecting and validating an enterprise project management system
- Integrating project and clinical development planning
- A targeted communication strategy to engage and build momentum for the change programme
One of the several performance improvement providers that GSK turned to for assistance with iPlan was TwentyEighty Strategy Execution. TwentyEighty Strategy Execution, who has worked extensively with GSK since 2002, was chosen for this new initiative because of its impressive experience and its proven ability to meet tight deadlines and tailor its programmes and services to meet client needs.
Jacqui Alexander, Director of Project Management Learning & Change Management summarises the main reason for selecting TwentyEighty Strategy Execution as follows: "Having forged a strong and collaborative relationship with TwentyEighty Strategy Execution over a number of years, it was clear that they would be our ‘partner of choice’ in further extending our professional project management development programme."
After meeting with TwentyEighty Strategy Execution representatives, it became clear that tailoring, cooperation and internal support would be keys to GSK’s strategy. In order to ensure relevance of content for its employees, GSK asked us to not only customise its courses to cover specific GSK topics, but to allow GSK experts to work along side our instructors to co-teach the courses.
Along with relevance, GSK leaders also understood that internal support was vital to the success of the iPlan programme. The company already had executive support; however, to ensure support among its employees throughout the organisation, GSK took to recruiting internal line champions from various business units. These champions were tasked with assuring that the course material was relevant and, equally as important, that it generated awareness and enthusiasm for the overall training initiative. To date, the company has 40 active line champion.
GSK and TwentyEighty Strategy Execution worked together to craft a number of courses for GSK employees, including an introductory course that defines the roles within a project team and how to be an effective team member, as well as a more advanced course that focuses on project planning for project team members. We also delivered courses on accountability and practical risk management, which helped participants understand the risks and opportunities that are inherent in drug development projects.
For the delivery of courses, GSK chose to take advantage primarily of TwentyEighty Strategy Execution’s on-site training ability, which sent instructors directly to GSK locations to teach courses.
The joint efforts have allowed us to derive benefit immediately after the training programmes have been completed across the organisation.
Vice President of Global Project & Portfolio Management
With more than 1,000 GSK employees trained to date—and many more currently queuing up for courses—the company has managed to change individual behaviour, particularly regarding risk management. Project team members now use a common language in identifying the risks on their projects and approach risk management in a more consistent way, which is having an effect throughout the entire organisation. There is a clear mandate from senior management in place that all new projects must come with a detailed risk plan to be reviewed before that project is given the green light for large-scale development.
Speaking of the partnership with TwentyEighty Strategy Execution, Karl Donn, Vice President of Global Project & Portfolio Management said, "This has been a great partnership between TwentyEighty Strategy Execution and GSK. TwentyEighty Strategy Execution brought both content knowledge and training skills to complement the knowledge in GSK R&D on how to apply the their capabilities to obtain maximum benefit. The joint efforts have allowed us to derive benefit immediately after the training programmes have been completed across the organisation."
GSK's commitment to performance improvement through training shows no signs of relenting anytime soon. The company has now begun working on the development of a center for project management resources for the entire R&D organisation. In addition, GSK leaders plan to continue reviewing employee feedback regarding individual training courses, measure progress against its many performance benchmarks and build a 2008 programme of training that will take project management to the next level of maturity within the R&D enterprise.
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