Project Management

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Topics: Agile, Healthcare, Information Technology
Project management in a medtech startup
Hello everyone,

I am a mechanical engineer with around 10 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, first with experiences in quality, methods and problem solving/continuous improvement and since 2018 as a full time PM. I mainly worked in big companies (10k-100k employees) in the aerospace, automotive, nuclear and other industries.
I got PMP certified almost at the same time I got recruited as a PM in a MedTech startup (October 2022) that is developing AI analysis software for cancer screening (40 people working in dev(AI, data, prod/ops), clinical research and QARA). It is new for me because it is a MedTech and because it is an IT startup. Some projects should use a waterfall approach (FDA clearance), some are agile (dev with not external impact) and some hybrid.
Some of the issues they have not having a PM/PMO to help them:

- Some tasks they discuss during meetings are forgotten or written somewhere that is not visible to all, so it eventually gets forgotten;
- Tasks are pushed again and again (estimates are not accurate and they have no tool to manage their resources);
- They have too many projects they are trying to push, not considering the fact that they have many other projects that are already running.

I checked for a solution that could fit our needs and chose Wrike. I'm expecting to deploy that new tool in a 1-month timeframe, in January 2023.
They are asking me to set Project Management standards (they only use Google Chat/Slack and emails to communicate and Google Tasks/Google Sheets to set and track tasks) which I think I could do (with some help from the consultant at Wrike how will help me during four 1-hour sessions in January).
I want to present the tool to them and teach them some basics of project management like what to expect from a kickoff meeting (I was asked to organize one on a very short notice with no project charter and stakeholders were not all present), how to manage risks, time and stakeholders.
I have some questions, if some of you are working in a startup/MedTech company or have any ideas to succeed in this position?
- 1-month for deployment of the PM tool Wrike, too quick, too slow?
- What methods do you suggest to onboard my colleagues in understanding the advantages of having a PM tool (that is adding to the many they are already using (especially duplicates with Gitlab/Redmine)?
- How should we manage risks? Nominate risk manager in the team or do it myself?
- Time management (estimates). Stakeholder management (identify all stakeholders before starting).
- Any general advice for hybrid projects in that field?

Thank you very much all and have a nice day,
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Ibrahim -

before introducing any tools, it would be helpful if you could convince your leadership to pull less work into the system. Until that is done, it will be hard to get any predictability.

Once that is done, I'd suggest working with a few team members to develop some simple PM standards (principle-based) and once there is some consistency across the projects, then look to introduce a tool.

Otherwise, you are just automating chaos.

... and you (or senior management) wind up blaming the tool. The biggest part of setting up a PMO--as your post seems to suggest--is the change in culture that is required. Focus on changing the people and many of the listed woes will drop off. Bonne chance!
Thank you very much for your feedbacks.
I could use the tool for myself to keep track on all tasks, telling everyone not to look at it and just updating it myself.
What would you suggest to do next? What would be the first principles you would teach this kind of team and what other principles would you avoid starting with?
Ibrahim -

I think a couple of initial ideas would be:

1. Gather some data to prove to leadership that the amount of concurrent work is more than the supply of talent.

2. Have teams start to capture their actions and issues in a simple Excel workbook which they store in a centralized location.

3. Do some root cause analysis on the chronic delays to tasks. Is it too much multitasking (addressed in point 1), or is it something else?

Hello Ibrahim
Referring the questions
1 - 1month, 4 weeks, is reasonable for deployment Wrike
2 - PM tool, as the names implies is a tool for Project Management. Put yourself in each team member head, will the tool (wrike) permit me to perform my work?
3-Risks are managed by the PM (response plan can/should have one person accountable BUT even so, PM should be prepared for secondary risks)
4-PM responsibility
5-PM knowhow, experience.

Your contractor expect you to manage the project, do PM tasks, actions. I would do regular status meetings, collect the tasks, follow-up each. Team members can use the tools better suits their needs as long job is done,(Pure, risk, stakeholders management).

Kiron -

1. I'm not sure they will allow some time for me to gather that data, but I can ask my manager.
2. That is why I'm using Wrike, so that we can all see what has to be done by whom.
3. It is multitasking. But it seems that they are used to working like that and there is some change management to work on.

Romão -
1. My manager was asking for something quicker so at least now I have a fellow PM who supports my opinion.
2. I'm not sure it will really help them at the start of the project, but I hope that in few months from now they will realize the advantage of using such tool
3. Any suggestions on how to find/track/mitigate risks on this kind of industry?
4. Yes of course, but even asking SME, I'm being told that it is very difficult to give estimates.
5. Yes, and that's why I posted here, so maybe a fellow PM in the medical field could help.

The difficulty is now is proving (to elder senior management that they should believe me in managing that change). Wish me luck on that!

Thanks all!

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