Outsourced Projects, Incognito

Bio/pharmaceutical companies are tending to outsource entire projects for one or more stages of R&D.  The outsourced project is then co-owned by another company.  The partner may insist on secrecy, i.e. preventing your R&D staff from knowing what is being worked on.  Thus a project that appears in a later stage may have actually originated in-house in an earlier stage but “went incognito” for one or more stages.  The data and resources that had been generated in-house in earlier stages may not be linkable to the reappearing project, if it may have a been mistakenly assigned a new project ID.  As the share of the outsourced projects in a portfolio increases, the parent company will be less capable of understanding the dynamics of its own portfolio.

Best practice would be to indicate the project as ‘outsourced’ in some manner and displayed as an active project in the portfolio, even though the external work won’t be trackable.  Often the external partner may lack certain resources that can be provided by your company.  If the project is listed as active, then such work can be tracked, otherwise that portion of corporate resource will be untrackable.

With outsourcing, Alliance Management becomes an important component of project management.  “As ProjectManagers begin to manage projects involving Outsourcing and Alliance Partners, in the process of Drug Development, their job becomes critically linked to Alliance Management” 1

  1. Matthew Riddell, CHI, Effective Alliance Management and the Project Management Interface, June 4-5, 2008 Philadelphia