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  • Team Archbow

The Hidden Competitive Advantage: Project Management

Introducing new Archbow team member, Melissa Waetjen.

Melissa Waetjen, Archbow Senior Director

It’s a reality of today’s workplace: we’re often asked to do more with less. Unfortunately, sometimes cutting corners results in failing to meet expectations or deliver on goals. If you’re not careful, the high-cost of failure can easily outweigh the savings of tightening the budget.

Failed projects consume organizational resources and do not deliver return

on investment. Ask yourself how many of your organization’s current projects are failing to meet objectives, are over budget, or running late. If the answer is, “too many,” a fresh approach to project management may be in order.

In addition to saving time and money, investing in project management can provide competitive advantage. If your organization can deliver strategic projects quicker and more efficiently, and fewer projects fail, it positively impacts the bottom line.

We asked our resident project management expert and new team member, Melissa Waetjen, to talk to us about what it takes to not only manage successful projects, but to do so in a way that gives the organization an advantage. Melissa is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Today, Archbow clients benefit from her passion for transforming strategy into actionable implementation plans. Welcome, Melissa!

5 ways to increase your chances of project success, by Melissa Waetjen

1. Executive sponsorship is key to project success. A sponsor is one person, not a group or committee, with overall accountability for project delivery. Project implementation requires change, and results are more likely to be sustained if driven from the top. Ensure the sponsor understands the importance of this role and what is expected. An effective sponsor champions the project by aligning stakeholders, ensuring prioritization and resource commitment, bridging gaps, communicating both internally and externally, removing obstacles, and resolving or escalating issues as needed.

2. Availability is not a skill set. Ensure that team members have the necessary skills and expertise to deliver on project commitments. A skills matrix helps to highlight gaps. In addition to technical skills, consider business skills and interpersonal skills. Leverage team member strengths through assignment of tasks and proactively reduce the gaps through training, paired work assignments, replacement with more experienced colleagues, or contracting external resources. By not addressing skill gaps upfront, you risk deliverables taking more time and effort than planned and potentially poor-quality results.

3. Keep eyes on the finish line. Success is ahead, not behind you. Help your team stay focused on the finish line and resist the temptation to waste energy on past events that cannot be changed. Don’t lose sleep over what could have/should have/would have been. Use lessons learned to inform what can be done differently to achieve the desired outcomes. This may mean starting a task sooner, allowing more time to complete, assigning different resources, utilizing a different vendor, or engaging stakeholders sooner.

4. Practice saying, “I’ll get back to you.” It’s crucial that stakeholders align, and stay aligned, on project objectives, scope, timeline, and budget. It is almost certain that at least one stakeholder, if not more than one, will ask to accelerate the timeline, reduce costs, change scope, or all three. Your inclination may be to say “Yes” automatically. Instead, clarify understanding of what is being asked and say, “I’ll get back to you.” Engage the project sponsor, discuss implications with the team, and consider potential solutions. Then educate stakeholders about the impact. If more time or resources are needed to incorporate the change, ask.

5. Establish one source of truth. Project repositories and collaboration spaces provide a hub for information sharing and participation across departments, business units, divisions, and business partners and suppliers. There are numerous tools available to organize documents, milestones, schedules, actions, communications, decisions, and other project resources in one place. Work with the team to agree on what information to include and establish a process for keeping content up to date.

As part of our comprehensive service offering, Archbow Consulting provides clients with end-to-end project management support. Our team has led hundreds of pharmaceutical projects, and we share the benefits of that real-world experience with our clients. Click here or contact us for more information on our project management services.


Archbow Consulting helps pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the USA and Europe design, build, and optimize product distribution and patient access strategies. Archbow was founded by industry veterans to meet a need in the marketplace for consulting options that offer diverse real-world experience, are able to leverage deep connections across the industry, and can also provide actionable strategic guidance. We invite you to learn more about our team, services, and clients’ success, and connect with us via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or subscribing to this blog which you can do below.

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