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6 Ways Pharmaceutical Companies Can Adapt to Improve the Chances of Project Success

6 Ways Pharmaceutical Companies Can Adapt to Improve the Chances of Project Success

The world is experiencing unprecedented change as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies across the globe have needed to adapt to survive and thrive. Strategies have changed. Priorities have changed.

But your organization’s need to deliver value and execute strategy successfully hasn’t changed.

That makes project management more important than ever. As challenging as projects may have been pre-pandemic, it doesn’t compare to what team members may also be juggling now, such as home IT needs, remote work and schooling, financial pressures, pandemic mitigation measures, health concerns, job losses, and much more.

Given these challenges, how can your organization improve the chances of project success?

1) Make sure you are working on the right projects. Consider this from a customer perspective. Have your customers’ needs changed? Have company objectives and strategies changed as a result? If yes, determine if the project is still essential and what adjustments are needed to achieve successful outcomes. If the project no longer aligns with customer needs and company objectives, stop and redeploy resources to more critical areas of need. Be open-minded about what the team needs to do to adapt and lead the way, even if it means closing a partially completed project.

2) Adjust communication to today’s environment. It will be some time before project teams can gather again safely. Your pre-pandemic communications and meeting cadence may not be ideal under these new circumstances. Consider whether shorter, more frequent meetings may improve stakeholder alignment and engagement. Look for ways to leverage technology to reduce meeting burden. Perhaps you can post project status reports in a central location and send a link to team members in place of a meeting. Continue to engage with your team regularly and consider virtual coffee or lunch breaks. Have 1:1 walking meetings where you can meet a colleague by phone while enjoying the outdoors. Though not a perfect substitute for face-to-face interaction, these tweaks can help strengthen the sense of teamwork and community.

3) Keep an open mind about new tools and techniques. During times of change, people tend to stick with what they know, what is comfortable, and what worked well in the past. Pre-pandemic ways of managing projects may not be best suited for today’s work environment. Don’t be afraid to share your observations with the team and discuss what is working and not working. Discontinue, modify, or replace what is not working, then test, learn, and repeat!

4) Skill-up on virtual meetings. This is important whether you’re a meeting facilitator or participant. Ensure conference details are provided in advance, including a dial-in number for those who are unable to join online. Ensure the team knows the back-up plan in case there are technology glitches. Check attendance using web conferencing tool and ask if you don’t see the name of someone you’re expecting, rather than having team members talking over each other to make introductions. Take advantage of tool capabilities to facilitate chat, content sharing, whiteboarding, etc. Remember to provide participants enough time to respond to questions or call on specific team members to facilitate discussion. Mix it up with music, fun backgrounds, crazy sock day, or whatever suits your project team’s personality.

5) Celebrate success more often. Don’t wait until a big milestone to stop and say thanks. Recognize team members throughout all phases of the project with shout-outs, kudos, virtual high-fives, or thumbs up. Consider including two minutes at the start or end of meetings for team members to share successes and recognize colleagues. Highlight team member accomplishments in status updates and project dashboards.

6) Embrace uncertainty. There will always be uncertainty about the future and many things outside your control. A well-conceived project plan may be serving as a security blanket. The control you thought you had may be holding your team back from innovating. We are all navigating new territory, and your organization needs you and your team to find solutions to problems we’ve never experienced before. Embrace the challenge. Don’t hesitate to rethink plans, revalidate your assumptions, and reassess risks and opportunities to deliver successfully in this new reality.

It can feel overwhelming when priorities and strategies all start to change at once. That’s where Archbow Consulting can help. Our team of experts can act as an extension of your team to guide these approaches, keep projects on track, and coordinate the pivots necessary to continue to thrive in these unusual times. Contact us today to learn more.


Archbow Consulting helps pharma and biotech companies 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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