Medical device project teams are usually multidisciplinary. The team members often include a mix of project managers, engineers, regulatory experts, and clinical researchers, to name a few. These teams are also often cross-functional, with each team member having additional roles and responsibilities beyond a particular medical device project.
As a result, the project is often influenced by:
- Poor communication
- Lack of accountability
- Disparity or lack of skills and expertise
- Decisions based on personal biases
- Lack of commitment to the project
- Scope creep
- Conflict and disagreements
- Different interpretations of the project’s goals or priorities
- Poor time management
- Burnout and disengagement
If not managed well, these may lead to project failure down the line.
When that happens, your best bet is to leverage the expertise and collaborative skills of these diverse team members to turn the failing project around successfully.
You can start by concentrating on the failing project.
Interact with the poor-performing project team in a way that causes results.
Step one is to initiate open communication.
Meet with the project manager and the core team to discuss the failing project (and the failing project only) that they are involved in. This interaction should foster a clear understanding that the project is underperforming. Gauge the team’s perception of their progress. Ensure they acknowledge the disparity between their current status and the project’s goals.
- Do the team members understand that they’re underperforming?
- If not, how can you make that clear?
- Do you have data on how far along they should be with the project and how far along they actually are?
- How can you present that data to the team without playing the blame game?
Step two is to conduct a comprehensive GAP analysis.
Identify the real issues faced by the project and the team. Figure out the priorities and what to focus on to get the project back on track. Identify what’s working and what’s not. This evaluation needs to be unbiased. Avoid injecting personal biases or viewpoints into the assessment – whether they are yours or the team’s. Instead, rely on data-driven insights.
Step three is to define a recovery plan with the team.
See what is possible right now. Examine the issues at hand – the current risks – and propose potential mitigations. Take a fresh look at the project’s resources and determine if any additional resources are necessary. Revisit the risk analysis and identify potential new risks. Define corresponding mitigations if needed. This is also a great place to take advantage of the team’s:
- Diverse expertise and collaborative problem-solving capabilities. Gain a fresh perspective on the root causes of the issues and come up with effective solutions.
- Shared responsibility, increased motivation, and accountability to work collectively towards turning the project around.
- Ability to pool resources like time, expertise, skills, etc., and allocate them effectively to resolve the project’s issues.
- Collective learning to analyze the lessons learned from project failure and use them to inform future decision-making and project management.
Step four is to monitor and evaluate the progress.
Keep a watchful eye on the team’s progress. Are they following the recovery plan? Is the project manager effectively leading the team toward success? Is there a need for additional resources? Is the existing team sufficient to accomplish the new goals and recovery or are additional team members needed?
Regular evaluations provide insights into the team’s performance and highlight existing and potential pitfalls. After this one can make an informed decision to continue as is or make the necessary adjustments.
Bonus: What NOT to do when your medical device project is failing
We have one word for it – micromanagement.
Micromanagement can take many forms, from having multiple people to report to (and hear from in case of a mistake) to excessively detailed task instructions that leave little room for independent decision-making.
This can seriously impact the team’s motivation, leading to slower or ‘just enough’ progress.
True Story. One project many years ago required a failing project team of 10+ team members to review the week’s progress with all the division’s management. Every Thursday. And it took upto 4 hours. That’s 40+ hours spent every week reviewing the project turnaround. The team also spent two hours (each!) on the weekly report. So that’s 15% of their week spent reporting and sitting in a meeting.
The division’s management consisted of 10 project managers.
So that was 10+ team members reporting to 10 different project managers every week. This also explains the 4 hours it took (too many people to report to and too many opinions to deal with).On a status meeting.
While status meetings are very important, 100 hours(at least) spent weekly on them is excessive. Especially since that time could have been used for other essential tasks.
Our aim was to help this team turn the project around faster. And since this status meeting was also impacting the team’s morale, we had to come up with a way that addressed it. Our goal was to ensure efficient use of time while keeping the upper management in the loop. We had to do this while making sure nothing slipped through the cracks once we stopped the 4 hour status meetings.
The solution: Having the project manager provide a detailed status report to the management team in advance of the status meeting and discussing how management could support the team each week.
The result: a collaborative ecosystem where information flowed seamlessly, decisions were well-informed, and the project team operated with a sense of ownership and empowerment. By prioritizing strategic discussions over routine reporting and on the spot problem solving, we ensured:
– improved team morale
– time savings
– focused discussions
– enhanced communication
– adaptive management
– efficient problem resolution
Have A Failing Medical Device Project?
Foster a culture of open communication, accountability, and proactive problem-solving. And if you need any help with getting a project back on track get in touch!
Our expert medical device project management consultants know how to lead teams, manage in times of crisis, and influence change. We offer expertise, intellectual property, and proven methodology to take your medical device project to market on time and within budget.
Image by: pch.vector