The role of the project manager in defining strategic partnerships

Partnerships and business process outsourcing are integral to how the life sciences industry manages its regulatory activities today, but often those relationships can become mired in confusion about roles and responsibilities.

In my last blog, I addressed the move from transactional to strategic partnerships. I’d like to address a key element in that relationship: the project or program manager.

Successful partnerships require good communication, but if that communication comes from multiple touchpoints or is inconsistent, it will only add to confusion and frustration. Our perspective is that the project manager (PM) is the backbone of any good strategic partnership.

The PM serves as the liaison between the client and project teams, whether regulatory publishing or consulting, mitigating any issues that arise or just generally providing status updates. But the role of the PM goes far beyond point-of-contact. The PM owns the project, meaning that this person is responsible for everything from budget, finances, accounting and coordination of resources to ensuring project alignment and that expectations are being properly set and met. The PM has a handle on all the moving parts and, as such, is well-positioned to relay information among the various teams.

What all this amounts to is daily communication between the PM and the client-counterpart.

Growing the friendship

Building a strong relationship between the PM and the client takes time. You start out as strangers, but over time friendships grow. I’ve seen that happen on several occasions. Two examples from my own experience come to mind — an eight-year partnership and a six-year partnership. In both of those cases the PM and the project lead on the client side probably spoke to one another more than to any other person, at least on a professional level.

Because these two individuals will be working together so closely every day for many years, it’s important to do a little matchmaking.

Good strategic partnerships blossom and grow when time is spent at the start ensuring that the PM and the client lead will work well together in the long term. Communication is clearly a top priority for a PM, and all our PMs have good communication skills, but a good match goes beyond that. Is there a good personality fit? Is the PM able to work patiently through early challenges or project changes? And does the PM’s approach to due diligence suit the client’s way of working? These are the fundamentals that drive a good relationship and good rapport.

Ultimately, the goal is to meld two separate entities into one to ensure seamless project management and clear, aligned process adoption.

That’s a huge role for one individual — and even the best, most committed PM needs to be able to take vacation time. So, the PM can and does seek help. He or she will delegate activities to other colleagues, but even then the PM always has to know what’s happening, who is carrying out which tasks, what milestones have been met and what still needs to be delivered.

As I discussed in my last blog, strategic relationships confer greater value for the client as long as there is communication, trust and transparency. The PM is the glue that connects all the various pieces, helping to build alignment of work and processes and ensuring that trust and transparency are fundamental to the relationship.

Learn more about how DXC Technology builds long-term strategic partnerships and helps you reimagine the future.


Leslie Wan is the global head of Regulatory Engagement Management in DXC’s Life Sciences group.

 

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