Project Management 4
Risk Management 4
Decision Making 4
Managing a project to schedule is simple to understand and (often) exceedingly difficult to execute. Biotech involves biology and chemistry, the so-called “unpredictable arts”. The savvy Project Manager realizes that there are numerous risks to their timeline, and manages with healthy doses of optimism and paranoia. We recommend only committing to a timeline when you have control over the activities to be performed. This is a crucial point. If the goal is to spend 6 weeks trying, you can commit to trying… but what is the point in only trying? If the goal is to have an experiment yield a result, the only way you can be sure is if you’ve done it – many times – before. Timelines built on hope are like leather loafers on ice – they’re going to slip.
An ancient and typical tool for PM is the Gantt chart. Some exceedingly simple projects don’t require them, but when there are multiple interdependencies, i.e. one activity depends on the completion of another, the Gantt chart is invaluable for planning. Determine your critical path, then set your resources against it!
The reality is that at the outset, many projects have so much risk and so little control that the Project Manager can only make a best efforts attempt. In early stage biotech, however, there is only so much time available before the money runs out. This is why we recommend a risk-based approach. If the team is focused – from day 1 – on clear identification, communication, and mitigation of risks, including risks to the timeline, then all team members will be clear that initial stages are somewhere between hopeful and probable, while GLP studies are exactly as planned, every time.
If you’re not controlling your timeline, you risk spending resources in the wrong way. If you aren’t controlling your timeline, you can’t plan for that bridge loan, or partnership, or Series E round that will make the difference between a going concern, and bankruptcy.
Basic Project Management