Pharmaceuticals company Pfizer claims to have improved the efficiency of its IT development work after rolling out a home-grown project management system across sites in Europe, the US and Japan.
Pfizer’s £600,000 project information and support system (Priss), jointly developed with supplier Atlantic Global PLC, paid for itself in a matter of months by pinpointing projects that duplicated work, identifying project delays, and making better use of staff and resources.
“It has allowed the infomatics department to stretch itself across the very diverse range of demands that are placed on it. Being able to see how those demands line up against each other has helped us to talk about priorities in a way we would not have been able to before,” said Kevin Lane, director of development of infomatics Europe.
The company, which is consolidating after a series of mergers, is considering plans to roll out a web-based version of Priss, also developed by Altlantic Global PLC, which, it claims, will eliminate paperwork and make it easier to manage projects from a distance.
Pfizer began work on Priss in 1997, which then took the form of a spreadsheet, to monitor project costs, project milestones, and the availability and skills of IT staff. By integrating data from each individual project, the system was able to give an overview of the performance of the informatics unit, including projected costs for the year.
“The first thing we saw was that there were potentially duplicated projects doing the same thing. Resources were being stretched when they could be put in one place to do one job. That became very visible very quickly and enabled us to become more effective,” said Lane.
Pfizer decided to roll Priss out across its intellectual property group in 1999 – some 1,000 people at the time – covering sites in the UK, the US and Japan. Developments in the business meant there was only a three-month window to complete the project.
Pfizer said it had to cut corners to get the project running in time. This meant keeping the software as simple as possible. It also meant dispensing with the normal development cycle of producing specifications, testing them, producing user requirements and software documentation
“This was something that should have taken over a year to do and doing it in three months carried a lot of risk,” said Lane.
The system is accessible from desktop PCs and runs on Pfizer’s Citrix infrastructure.