Doug Bailey

How to Create a Useful Medical Device Project Plan

Medical Device Project PlanI could spend a lot of time trying to make sure my medical device project plan is useful. But most effective proof for me is hearing this phrase: “Hey Doug, I was looking at the plan…”.
Let’s count the wins in that phrase: 1) Someone thought about accessing the plan. AKA, they saw value in the plan. 2) Someone could access the plan. 3) Someone could navigate the plan to get the information they were seeking.

High bar, right? Believe it or not, one or more of these items are absent for many projects. I encourage everyone that authors or consumes a medical device project plan to consider these points and see how they fare.

Here are six principles that I keep in mind for Medical Device Project Plan success:

1) Listen. If I’m spoon-feeding information, I’m giving the team “my plan” and will fail to get to “our plan.”

2) Start high level. The best way to scare off a team is to present a 100+ line schedule that they have never seen before. Instead, I start with very high-level framing (ie. task headings) and work with the team to break down the details.

3) 90% of the value isn’t the output. Like many of the things we create on our projects, the real value is in the alignment and the discussions that take place along the way. These discussions help make it “our plan.”

4) Scope first. Many Project Managers will rush right into “how long does it take?” or “it has to be done by this date.” This is at odds with PMI’s “approach of starting with scope, then moving to sequencing the activities, and finally getting to effort. Jumping into date and money results in missing out on critical scope and dependency information.

5) It is useful when you use it. All too often much effort is invested in creating project plans only to have them collect dust. The plans should be revisited regularly, especially when reviewing changes, impacts, and possible scenarios.

6) Usability. It is essential that your team members can efficiently get the information they need. With large plans, I send out “Late/Due Reports” individualized for each team member/lead so they have the information at their fingertips. Making it easier for them dramatically increases the likelihood I will get the information that I need.

Photo Credit: lucadp

Doug Bailey is a StarFish Medical Program Manager. He has successfully managed numerous complex programs in medical device development and manufacturing, naval nuclear and commercial shipbuilding, and electric utility nuclear power stations. Doug earned his B.S. at the Florida Institute of Technology.

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