Introduction of an IT Project Management Methodology in a Fast-Growing Company

Geoffray Schmitt, and Solenn Salaun

Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. is a young company and will celebrate its fourteenth anniversary in 2011, which, in the pharmaceutical industry, is not that old. During these past thirteen years, the company has grown from four employees—the founders—to more than 2500, spread out over almost thirty subsidiaries around the world. To support this rapid growth, it was necessary to build an information system for rapid responses to immediate needs. In 2005, before the company reached one thousand employees, senior management decided to structure the management of its IT projects. On the one hand, it became clear that, due to company growth, the complexity of these projects would increase and that an empirical approach would not be sufficient to maximize the chances of success; on the other hand, the goal was to lay the foundation for a global   governance that would later enable the coordination of the project portfolio at the strategic level.

It is clear that this long-term task did not begin smoothly. Why change an approach that had worked so far? Why bother to add another layer of “bureaucracy,” because the information system had up until this point been built successfully without this unnecessary “straitjacket?” These questions may seem trivial to organizations with a high level of maturity in project management but were…

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