Project management for medical devices can often feel like an episode of “Survivor,” where teams face tough challenges (product complexity, changing market and safety regulations), compete for resources, and face critical decisions at Tribal Council(project meetings). It’s an intense, high-stakes game that requires strong leadership, technical expertise, and adaptability. With these five tips, you can make medical device project management easier and make sure everyone is playing fair.
Five Tips to Making Project Management Easier for Medical Device Companies – The Survivor Edition
1. Review and improve your new product development process for clarity
Without clear processes, project management can become exceedingly challenging–much like winning “Survivor” without essential survival skills. A well-defined process helps in tracking progress, identifying bottlenecks, and making necessary adjustments. To ensure your new product development process is well-defined and efficient, consider the following:
- Are your goals and expectations realistically achievable?
- Are the roles and responsibilities clear to all the stakeholders?
- Do you have effective communication channels in place?
- Are your processes standardized with room for flexibility if needed?
- Are all the decisions and processes being documented for review?
- Do you regularly review progress, provide timely feedback, and recognize successes?
- Do you incorporate feedback from stakeholders to make the process more efficient and adaptable to changing circumstances?
2. Prioritize your project list
In medical device companies, the project list can often be extensive. Prioritization is essential to allocate resources and attention effectively. If there’s no real priority assigned to any project, your project managers will end up in a Survivor-like battle for dominance, the fate of your project determined by the last project manager standing. To avoid that, here’s what you need to do:
- Establish a Project Management Office (PMO) to oversee project prioritization and make decisions based on objective factors instead of personal biases.
- Develop clear and transparent criteria for prioritizing projects, like market potential, regulatory urgency, and revenue impact.
- Periodically reassess project priorities. Market conditions, technological advancements, and organizational goals may change. Your project list should reflect these shifts.
3. Ensure appropriate systems engineering coverage for your medical device project
A new project requires a lot of systems engineering to ensure a well-coordinated system that can adapt to changing circumstances(and survive in the wild). For follow-on projects that build on existing devices, the level of systems engineering may be reduced, but it should not be eliminated entirely.
Integrating systems engineering into the project from the beginning can help:
- ensure that the device functions as a cohesive whole by defining requirements, integrating, and managing complex interfaces for alignment.
- mitigate risks associated with the system’s design and functionality.
- in early problem detection and resolution, preventing costly delays down the line.
4. Assign a project sponsor
Each project should have a Jeff Probst(the ultimate Survivor host). Someone from the executive management team who can serve as a project sponsor. They should be individuals with the authority to allocate resources, make high-level decisions, and advocate for the project. Their role is not just to provide resources but to maintain a clear vision for the project’s contribution to the company’s success. Regular communication between the project sponsor and the project manager is a must to ensure:
- project managers have the support they need
- that sponsors are aware of project progress and potential roadblocks
5. Work with a qualified medical device project management consultant
Or, you can always hire someone to do all the above for you. Having the ‘right fit’ medical device project consultant in your corner can ensure that your projects not only survive but thrive in this high-stakes, highly regulated market.
That’s where we come in
Waddell Group provides strategic-level project leaders and project management consultants for the medical device industry. Our team of seasoned professionals–project managers with at least 10 years of experience in the medical device industry– bring a wealth of experience, industry insights, and a proven track record to the table. Let us provide the expertise and support your team needs to outwit, outplay, and outlast the challenges of medical device project management.
There are more ways to make project management easier for medical device companies, but these are the 5 most important ones. We hope these help.
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