Developing an Integrated Technology Management Process: How Glaxo Wellcome Took Up the Challenge to Develop a Company-Specific Technology Management System

Article excerpt

In early 2000, Glaxo Wellcome (GW) was a multinational pharmaceutical company with revenues exceeding 8 billion [pounds sterling] and R&D expenditures of over 1 billion [pounds sterling]. The company decided to implement a technology management strategy across the development and manufacturing interface prior to the merger with SmithKline Beecham to form GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). This was to augment the New Product Delivery (NPD) Process that was being introduced.

The vision for NPD was to achieve an integrated process that speeds new products to deliver maximum business benefit by aligning the goals and actions of the two key GW business functions: Research & Development and Manufacturing & Supply (see Figure 1), supported by the regulatory and commercial departments. The NPD process was directed by an NPD board that included director-level representation from across GW's worldwide operations. The NPD process came into effect after the proof-of-concept stage of the chemical entity within the Discovery phase. The guiding principles for NPD were:

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

* A single global process aligning functional activities around key decisions and deliverables.

* Clear accountabilities and objectives.

* Measures focusing activity and behavior on business needs.

* Better sharing of knowledge.

* Line functions and NPD organization jointly responsible for delivery of robust products and processes.

* People and teams working together as a single entity with shared goals.

Management of technology development, however, was extremely diverse and somewhat fragmented across the overall business. Generally, although technology development was driven by project needs, it occurred reactively rather than proactively in many cases. The consequences of this fragmented approach included an inability to identify the top-priority projects and obtain accurate data on the resources and expenditure associated with technology projects.

Despite the lack of data, it was clear that resources were not focused and that there were many different types of projects ranging widely in scope, from the specific interests of an individual to projects critical to the future success of the organization. Over the previous four years, the importance of developing a strategic approach had been recognized and exemplified by an extensive range of projects and initiatives specifically aimed at improving technology management. Nevertheless, no coherent approach had been developed. Recognizing this, the NPD board sponsored a review to recommend a comprehensive integrated process for the management of technology in NPD (see "Technology Management: A Five-Process Model," page 44).

The Review Process

A small multidisciplinary team was set up and tasked with meeting the challenge from the NPD board. The team was coordinated by a member of GW's management group (the "process owner") and included representatives from GWs business units. Because of the diversity of the technology development and the ultimate need for the business to own the process, the group involved technical and commercial representatives from the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States. The range of experience included pharmaceutical development, technology and engineering innovation, manufacturing, global external scientific affairs, business redesign, and information technology. The process owner reviewed consultant and academic activity in the field and chose to work with the Cambridge Centre for Technology Management (CTM), based on CTM's recent work on assessing technology management processes (1) and exploratory meetings to assess compatibility of aims.

The group defined its objective as:

The development of a process that would ensure that GW has a strategic business-grounded approach to the management and development of technology across NPD. This will result in a balanced portfolio of short, medium and long-term projects which are appropriately prioritized, resourced, developed, implemented, and exploited. …