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Program Director Lab

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On 30 November, for the final session of season 3, it was Nathaly's turn to tell us about her experiences...

As head of transformation for a major player in the pharmaceutical industry, Nathaly gave us a presentation on project methodology and the governance of strategic projects, including the link between the Group vision and the local/business line vision.

She also shared with us the way in which she was able to build a consensus to unblock a major initiative within the Group that seemed to be off to a bad start...


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The scoping phase of a major project is a stage that should not be neglected, even if it takes several months. By clarifying ambitions, setting priorities and defining resources, it conditions the smooth running of the project.

Given the stakes involved, particularly in terms of financial and human investment, major projects and transformation programmes need to be carefully prepared. This scoping phase is essential, and has several strategic and operational components.

First of all, you need to answer the following questions: Why? What? And how? Starting with the context, the issues and the objectives, this exercise enables a roadmap to be envisaged with different scenarios and to think about the organisation, governance and resources required. The approach presupposes a clear vision of what already exists, in order to identify needs, possible links and interferences with other projects, prospects for value creation and possible resistance to change. Favouring a collaborative approach, involving the various stakeholders from the scoping phase onwards, is generally a factor for success.

This first stage, which involves ascertaining both the desirability and the feasibility of the project, can take several months, sometimes more than a year. This may seem like a very long time, but the work done upstream ensures that the rest of the process runs more smoothly. It's better to lose a little time at the outset so that you have a solid foundation.


The purpose of a transformation programme is to support the company's strategy. It must therefore be perfectly aligned with this strategy, and must not serve any other interests. Checking this alignment is essential when the process is launched, but also on a regular basis during its implementation, so that any readjustments can be made.

In companies, projects are constantly emerging. When they involve major investment, however, it is important to check that they are in line with the strategy. This validation, carried out by Comex or an ad hoc committee, should take place during the scoping phase. If there are any discrepancies, the necessary adjustments must be made.

Throughout the life of the programme, it is essential to check that alignment with the strategy is maintained. A strong governance structure must therefore be put in place for monitoring purposes, with steering committees and at least annual reviews by the validation body.

One of the difficulties that can arise in running cross-functional programmes is the lack of alignment between sponsors, who may have different or even divergent interests. In such cases, every effort must be made to refocus energies on the company's main interests. The stakes are not technical, but political, and the balance of power may be called into question. This exercise can therefore take time, sometimes several months.


To read the rest, download the minutes by clicking here:

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