Developing an Integrated Technology Management Process

Article excerpt

How Glaxo Wellcome took up the challenge to develop a company-specific technology management system.

OVERVIEW: The lack of a systematic approach to managing technology hampers many companies in their drive for improved organizational effectiveness. A company can have a well-established new product development process but still come up against problems if it attempts to develop technology and products simultaneously. One way of addressing such problems is to complement the ongoing activities of the firm with a technology management process, as was done recently at Glaxo Wellcome. One of the key benefits of the approach taken at Glaxo Wellcome was the appointment of a fulltime technical director as part of the New Product Supply Organisation and the adoption of a short, medium and long-term portfolio approach to technology projects.

In early 2000, Glaxo Wellcome (GW) was a multinational pharmaceutical company with revenues exceeding £8 billion and R&D expenditures of over £1 billion. 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:

* 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. …