Seeing the Bigger Picture: Maximizing DMS/ECM Project Success

It isn’t always easy to step back and take the broad perspective when a new document or content management system requirement is bearing down. But, until Life Sciences companies start taking an end-to-end view and appreciating the wider impact on people and processes, they risk compromising a successful delivery for the business.

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Pharmaceutical organisations do a great many things very well, but it can be easy to underestimate the demands and efforts of new information system projects – incurring a risk that these initiatives will fail.

Pharmaceutical organisations do a great many things very well, but it can be easy to underestimate the demands and efforts of new information system projects – incurring a risk that these initiatives will fail.

Whether the motivation for a project is a company merger or acquisition, a harmonisation/rationalisation drive, a system refresh, or a specific new regulatory requirement such as IDMP or GDPR, life sciences companies still too often approach document or content management system (DMS/ECM) projects as targeted activities to achieve a specific single goal.

On top of this, they may set their parameters too narrowly in terms of the people they involve, the time frames they allow, and the scoping of user requirements. This can lead to costly project overruns, poor user buy-in and – at some point down the line – disappointing results and even project failure. And the financial implications can run into hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of euros.

So it is surprising that the vast majority of pharma organisations continue to plan and deliver DMS/ECM projects in the same sub-optimal way, time after time.

Standing on the shoulders of others

It’s a subject we’ll explore in the session we’re running at AMPLEXOR’s BE THE EXPERT meeting in June. Based on numerous electronic document/content management projects that we’ve helped clients plan, manage and deploy, we’ll be drawing together some of the major lessons companies are learning about successful delivery.

Some of it is about appreciating the need to include department heads and user representatives from across R&D – stakeholders from Regulatory Affairs, Clinical and Pharmacovigilance teams, as well as IT. This is critical to ensure that new systems serve the fullest purpose, work for everyone, and will have maximum application – as user requirements evolve and grow.

Whether companies bring in external help or not, the responsibility for delivering results cannot be passed off to a third party. Without internal ownership, and sufficient thought about how processes need to work, and the impact on individual roles, the best plans can go awry. A common mistake we see is project responsibilities being added to the workloads of already busy people who lack the capacity to expand the vision and review broader processes.

Another is to confine project parameters to a single use case in a single department. Not only does this limit the potential benefits; it also increases the likelihood of other, future projects in other parts of the business replicating much of the same groundwork – ad infinitum.

Planning for the unknown

We will also explore what’s involved in taking a more holistic approach to content management. Not just inter-departmentally, reducing duplication and improving people’s line of sight across products and processes. But also in helping companies develop a more flexible foundation for absorbing and responding to future regulatory and user-driven information requirements that are not yet known. Although this approach to planning is currently the exception rather than the norm, it can pay dividends – allowing companies to adapt more swiftly and painlessly each time new requirements emerge.

Ultimately, this is about agility. There will always be ‘projects’: as one ends, another appears on the horizon – so that planning for each as a distinct entity no longer makes sense; not if the pharma business is to meet its long-term strategic and operational goals.

From engaging and increasing the awareness of business sponsors in the IT initiatives they have prompted, to building multi-disciplinary teams that can help influence the right kind of change, we’ll be providing practical advice on the most effective and efficient approaches to end-to-end DMS/ECM delivery, based on the real and recent experiences of a cross-section of our clients. We hope to stimulate a decent debate!

To attend AMPLEXOR's BE THE EXPERT conference and training click the link below.

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Published on    Last updated on 14/05/2018

#IDMP, #Life Sciences, #GDPR

About the author

Karsten Krüger is a managing partner at MAIN5 GmbH & Co. KGaA in Germany. The company advises on and helps pharmaceutical firms to deliver organisational change, processes and systems in a successful way.


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