When you're looking for a project manager, there are 3 fundamental skills a project manager must have. In this simplified guide, I'd like to highlight these three skills and why these skills are so important.
Finding a good project manager can make the difference between a project coming in on time and budget versus it falling apart.
You want to find someone who can finish a project safely, on time and on budget. That's hard in any field, but with pharma, it's even harder.
There's a lot of competition to get products to the market first, and this process for pharmaceuticals is complex. Your project manager will need to know how to navigate through the technical development, regulatory issues, clinical trials, and supply chain.
For every $1 billion invested, around $122 million goes down the drain in the industry because a project didn't perform the way it was expected to.
Since you don't want your projects to fail, I've put together a list of 3 skills you should always make sure your project manager has.
1. A People Whisperer
Lets start off by looking into a key pillar of a successful customer journey, the "human-to-human" part of the Customer Experience.
It is incredibly important that a project manager (or your customer lead in general) is a people person and able to read and empathize with the needs and wishes of a customer (the wants are already in the service/product request...no need to worry about that). Now, every customer is different, everyone has their strengths, weaknesses, ambitious professional objectives and hidden personal goals. But a strong customer care leader will be able to quickly figure out where to put everyone and how to customize actions and communication accordingly.
Furthermore, it's not just about knowing the "how", "when" and "what" to communicate externally but also internally. It is key that the person
knows how to navigate the system, and motivate all involved
stakeholders through their passion for an outstanding and unique customer service. Some people are more deadline and action driven, some like to be acknowledged for good work, while others just want to be left alone and receive regular updates. A project manager should be able to be the customer advocate and put every team member in their best position in order to do great work in a timely manner.
2. A Dynamic Planner
Knowing how to get from A to B in project management is not sufficient. A good project manager needs to plan the stops in-between, foresee potential challenges and manage the speed along the project continuum. A simple Gantt Chart or Task List is always a good start. However, there should also be a plan for information sharing and decision making. Typically, additional tools are used beforehand to define eg. roles & responsibilities, risks, governance structure, etc.
The key is not to plan ahead and have an action associated with every potential risk, but to be aware of weaknesses in a system and know how to intervene. It is also important that the project manager is flexible to frequently adapt the plan vs. reality. You want someone who is not totally fixed on initial agreements but shows flexibility and can translate changes into actionable tasks ie. a change agent.
3. A Charismatic Doer
If your project manager isn't effective in problem-solving then a project can be quickly derailed. He or she should also be able to quickly asses the problem and what kind of impact it could have on the project. Fixing an issue quickly is imperative, so must the project team be driven in one single direction: resolution and getting back on track. Navigating the internal matrix, knowing where to pull, where to push and following through (as well as following up!) are key. Nice thing about this, sometimes a problem can be turned into an opportunity to improve internally (a process) or externally (communication). Nevertheless, the customer advocate must act quickly and ensure that his or her project team are all rowing in the same direction and management has cleared the way for them to reach shore.
Find the Right Customer Advocate
Our industry has been focusing for too long on marrying adequate technical backgrounds to job profiles, while trying to deal with personal traits later.
If you look for the skills I've laid out, you should find someone who can not only manage your projects efficiently but foster relationships with empathy and increase your customer loyalty. Remember, the person you hire as your project manager and relationship leader can make or break your customer relationship.
If you have any other questions or want to know more about Customer Experience Cx mapping and coaching, etc please get in touch here.