Boston Scientific Galway serves the company’s Cardiovascular group, manufacturing key product lines that include drug-eluting stents, biliary stents, and catheters. It is the largest Boston Scientific facility in Ireland, and the largest manufacturing facility in Boston Scientific’s global plant network. The site is an ISO 14001-certified site and manufactures more than 3 million life-saving devices a year, shipped to all corners of the globe.
In Boston Scientific Galway, we have 14 different business service groups that support the core manufacturing area. Within the manufacturing area, there are six production units. Each unit is effectively like a mini company with about 400 – 500 people that work in each of those – whether it’s in balloon catheters or drug eluting stents. Each has their own specific products and area of expertise.
I am a principal manufacturing engineer, so I own the PMO project management system that we have here in our production environment. We don’t have a centralized PMO because the production units are effectively six individual entities in their own right. While they all roll up into a corporate structure, they all have their own resources, funding and manage their own individual PMO. Alignment across the various PMO’s is achieved through our steering team, which has representatives drawn cross functionally from each of those production units.
With project management as their core competency in delivering return on millions in project investments, the medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific wanted to ensure their project management performance in terms of effectiveness and efficiency was optimised, consistently achieved and continually developed across their organisation.
A significant portion of our engineer’s time and capital investment is spent on projects. As a result, we see project management as a key core competency. Two years ago we looked at how we managed projects across the site and found we didn’t really have any site wide process in place or a training program for competency development. There was no real direction being given to people site wide on project management. Project Management was not a competency that we were actively developing.
We felt we needed a global perspective to achieve best practice for our organisation. At the same time, we have our own unique needs in how we operate site wide. We wanted to introduce best practice to fit with our needs. However, as people in the same environment as your competitors, it’s difficult to benchmark against other companies.
So as part of our SQP (Strategic Quality Process) I was tasked to deliver the overall strategy and to introduce a project management system across those six production units.
So our requirements were to benchmark ourselves against best practice project management models in our industry. We needed support on how best to adapt these best practices to our unique needs for a site wide project management framework. We also wanted to do internal benchmarking across the different production units to understand how we were doing and identify areas for improvement.
Our solution was to seek a third-party consultancy. Velopi was the company that we selected. Velopi met us and discussed our needs and the challenge. The first step was an assessment to understand our capabilities and identify improvement opportunities using Velopi’s project maturity model assessment tool. That really is where the relationship developed from.
The maturity assessment involved a main workshop as a starting point, where we mapped out our current structure and scored ourselves against various project management disciplines. Out of the maturity assessments, we identified development opportunities and key focus areas.
We used a current state leading to a future state in evaluating what we wanted our project management system governance process to look like. There were follow up discussions and several workshops to get the input from the cross functional team to map out our specific needs. Velopi helped us gather our user requirements and captured our resulting plan in a report with the underlying data. Velopi’s templates were adapted to document our new project management process in policy and procedures based on relevant fit.
We built a partnership with Velopi over the last 18 months, as they helped us progress on the project management maturity ladder. We started initial conversations on the maturity assessment around March 2017 and we actually went live with our new project management system in March 2018. So it was about a 12 month program.
Velopi has worked alongside us throughout in implementing a standardized process and the policy and governing procedures – building the competencies through a fairly comprehensive training program and rolling out our one and two day training programs.
Our plan is to do a reassessment of where we are on the project maturity model in October 2019. We set an 18 month time frame from the go-live to do our first reassessment because we’re a big organization where the tide moves slowly. When we did the first assessment we found that we were effective in project management but not necessarily efficient. We set objectives and KPIs for where we want to get within two to three years so that we can be both efficient and effective.
I’m quite happy from the indicators that we are on the path to achieving those objectives. We’ve already closed a number of the gaps that were identified during the initial maturity assessment. The score itself doesn’t really matter to me, whether we are a 3, 4 or 5 (on the maturity ladder). In fact, I don’t think we would ever be a five as we’re never going to be a projectized organization. It’s the progression and real business results that we are achieving and development of our project management processes that matter.
The intangible benefits have been noticeable. Whereas people would have previously just focused on schedule, they are now talking about project risk, scope change, user requirements and stakeholder analysis – things that wouldn’t have been always considered before. People have come to the realisation that project management isn’t just about a Gantt chart.
Indeed, a number of other business service groups within the company have seen what we’ve done and have adopted and adapted our project management system to their business needs. We are also seeing significant interest from other sister sites and our corporate PMO groups, with a number of benchmarking visits in the last 12 months.
As a partner, Velopi’s project management knowledge was exceptional, really strong. Of particular benefit to us was how the Velopi team understood our environment based on their experience of working with other large medical device companies. They understood that we had to find a process that would fit our business model and not try and shape our business model around what an ideal PMO should look like. We have blended best practice with what works in our business – so there are parts of Agile (Kanbanning of activities, the sprint cycles etc.) that are effective for us and there are some aspects where we still need the more structured waterfall approach.
I like how Velopi present recommendations and options to consider rather directing you down one path that may be overkill or not needed. Velopi draws on a massive portfolio of resources and expertise. Depending on what your use case is or what your business need is, they recommend what would be the best in setting the right path for you.
Velopi have gone through this journey with their other customers so they knew the pitfalls in introducing organisational change and were able to guide us in doing so successfully. For example, Velopi helped us manage stakeholders expectations of the program. Early on Velopi helped us communicate that this wasn’t going to be something that would be done in six months and you could wipe your hands and walk away. We were embarking on a two- or three-year effort of progressing up the maturity ladder. Communicating that upfront to our key stakeholders on site was important because that’s exactly what it takes.
The Velopi team gave us feedback and support throughout, from the development of our policy and procedure documents to how the developments were being relayed across the Boston team, incorporating any concerns or feedback to shape our project management process. They provided input as we re-configured our project management software tool, so it reflected our new project management system. Velopi’s trainers delivered the training programme during the initial roll out of our new project management system. Throughout, Velopi has kept regular check points with us on the overall program milestones and the Velopi senior management have been actively involved and regularly checked in with us to review progress.
Brian Dillon, Principal Polymer Manufacturing Engineer, Boston Scientific Galway, 2019
As a partner, Velopi’s project management knowledge was exceptional, really strong. I think that was one of the key benefits I found with Seamus and his team. They understood the environment from their experience of working with other large medical device companies and that we had to find a process that would fit our business model and not try and shape our business model around what an ideal PMO should look like.”
Principal Polymer Manufacturing Engineer, Boston Scientific Galway