Project and Portfolio Management

Project and Portfolio Management

A not for profit group was looking to understand how they should make project selection decisions for projects entering into the clinical phase, and how the priority of these incoming projects could be seen against those already in the portfolio.


A not-for-profit group had conflicting ideas on how they should select projects to enter clinical phases​. There was no common view on project value, and many funding decisions were “champion led”​. Consequently, there was confusion on how the priority of these incoming projects could be seen against those already in the portfolio

Phetairos worked with the client to understand what critical aspects of a project were valued by the organisation and stakeholders. These were used to form the basis of a small number of criteria against which incoming, and existing, projects were judged. A model was developed that could not only score these projects against these criteria, but which could also explore project ranking sensitivities, “what if” analyses, and critical strengths and weaknesses on a common framework.

The client obtained a broad understanding of project value and was able to align all stakeholders around this. 

  • Comparisons between projects – for example high risk high value projects vs low risk low value projects – were made transparent
  • Project weaknesses that made a different to go/no go for funding were highlighted 
  • Incoming and existing projects were able to be compared, selected and prioritised using a common language, and buy-in for funding obtained
  • They built an agreed annual process that reduced the “heat” in project selection


A large Pharma had a project matrix that, on the basis of its structure  and experience of project working should have been working efficiently. But in many areas if was not when examined closely. One particular international project team we worked with, should have been empowered to make significant decisions but frequently and without consultation, senior management was revisiting and overturning them.

Key functions in any project team, including this one, had functional sub-teams. These should have added powerful input to the project as well as optimising the use of core team time. The benefits were negated however by inappropriate weighing of project-level, cross-function issues within what became functional ‘silos’, with changes and operational delays not being communicated properly.

One particular symptom was a key decision on a formulation issue, which had turned into an email back-and-forth debate, had been unresolved for several months!

We managed to negotiate a joint event for the whole of the project team, plus some of the senior sponsors. We took them through a trust building exercise as well guiding them through a properly stepped decision process. They resolved the outstanding issue in 3 hours! 

Much better links were forged between the players, plus an agreement of some operating ground rules – they became a much high performing unit.


The problem was to balance the resources across several therapy areas in a single R&D site to optimise the site output. Discussions were based around the re-allocating of resource to maximise value and output.
Our model identified the resource needs and risk profile of projects within each therapy area. Options included in-house development versus outsourcing of licensing at different stages.
The outcome was a better understanding of the characteristics of each therapy area, such as costs, development risk profile and resource needs in different disciplines, which enabled discussions of re-allocating resource to maximise value and output.

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Claude Houet

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