When considering service providers, you should be confident their project managers (PMs) have sufficient technical expertise for your project. A lot of people can jump in and manage a task list. That’s very different than engaging with a team, understanding the issues and disseminating that information to help resolve it.
Medical device project managers should have experience managing complicated projects. You want them to be working within a framework, a quality management system with well-defined, structured processes. Ask if they use a system and if there are gates and checklists. A lot of what appears to be great skill is actually execution of a structured process.
How do you measure Project Management potential? Follow these tips from our project management team and you’ll get a sense. Remember, a babysitter PM doesn’t lend themselves to the medical industry.
- Ask how many projects the PMs work on simultaneously. More than 3 would be a negative for medical device projects. Sometimes engineers and designers lose the big picture down in the trenches. Then the project manager will come by and ask “What are you doing?” and likely hear: “Oh yeah, I don’t even know. I started there, and now I’m here…” But, that’s what designers and developers are supposed to do as part of the technical layer of the team—follow tangents and look and see opportunities. It’s very hard to switch hats and be both a resource and a project manager. That’s why it’s difficult to be an effective PM on more than 3 projects at the same time.
- StarFish molds our teams around the clients. Instead of asking how a service provider will staff your team, ask: “How will you make sure my project team is complete?” and “Who on the team will complete the needs we don’t have covered on the client side?”
- Ask for references from 3-4 clients they’ve worked with.
- Talk with your proposed project manager. Medical device design and development work wouldn’t be interesting if it weren’t challenging. Sometimes those challenges are taken by people in different ways. And the role of the PM is to smooth out those bumps.
- PMs keep the morale and spirit of the team up through their passionate attitude and confidence. They’re always positive. They celebrate with the team and celebrate the successes. They also step in and discuss issues with the client in order to work together to solve problems.
- Ask about their approach to risk management and risk mitigation. Being able to manage the whole risk issue is an important part of project management. Ask service providers how they look for risks, identify them, and then how they plan so that they do come up, the project can still develop to fruition. Project managers are all about risk. If you don’t plan for areas of potential risk, they hit and that’s where the project budget takes a whack. It can severely limit the chance for the project to be a success.
Follow these tips when selecting a Project Manager and you will be happy at how smoothly your projects will run. If you have additional tips or ideas please share them.
Astero StarFish is the attributed author of StarFish Medical team blogs. We value professional project management and collaborate on our medical device development projects.