This case study outlines how a turnkey solution based on Microsoft Project Online raised project management and resource planning to a new level at WÖRWAG Pharma.
WÖRWAG Pharma GmbH & Co. KG is a pharmaceutical company dealing in prescription compounds as well as over-the-counter products and food supplements. Germany, Eastern Europe, Russia, the Baltic States, Asia and Latin America are the sales markets. WÖRWAG obtains its products from primarily Eastern European and Asian production partners.
Founded in 1971, the family-owned company with over 1000 employees around the globe offers health-conscious people highly effective solutions to prevent and treat lifestyle diseases. WÖRWAG specializes in natural pharmaceutical substances, especially vitamins, minerals and trace elements as well as herbal substances.
Faced with the growing number of projects, which are often extensive, the fast-growing company set a goal. They would standardize structures and processes and optimize resource management. TPG QuickStart is WÖRWAG Pharma’s first cloud-based server solution for enterprise-wide project and resource management and reporting across projects.
It has raised the company to a new level regarding execution and transparency in project planning and handling. In addition, the solution supports the coordination processes between project managers and team leaders and has led to efficient resource management.Read article in German
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The company had no previous experience with project management software. That’s why we were looking to get started with a smaller solution to understand in detail what project management software meant and could do.
Bernhard Armbruster, Project Management Officer (PMO) WÖRWAG Pharma
A Quick Overview of this Customer Story
The Company: WÖRWAG Pharma sells prescription and over-the-counter products to prevent and treat lifestyle diseases around the globe. Areas of activity include marketing, approval processes and sales as well as researching possible new application areas for proven products. The production itself takes place at partner companies in Eastern Europe and Asia.
The Challenge: WÖRWAG Pharma wanted to ascertain the exact requirements regarding the scope of a software solution for project and resource management. Another demand was to subsequently find the right solution and implement it within a short period of time.
The Solution: TPG QuickStart provided the company quickly with a fully operational software solution with preconfigured elements. The solution was enhanced with TPG TeamManager for more transparent resource planning. It is integrated in the Microsoft Office 365 world. Via interfaces, it can be enhanced with applications that may be required in the future, such as the connection to SAP envisaged by WÖRWAG Pharma.
The Benefit: Beyond increased efficiency and transparency in project management, the pharmaceutical company benefits particularly from resource management on a whole new level. For the first time, it is possible to take stock of utilization and free capacities. This makes it easier to coordinate and control running projects efficiently. Moreover, it is finally possible to recognize in a reliable way if and when resources are available to take on new projects; and which resources are free.
Professional Project Management for Complex Transfers of Technology
“I encountered a large number of projects, but for the most part they were not structured and often delayed.” When Bernhard Armbruster joined WÖRWAG Pharma as a consultant at first and later as the Project Management Officer (PMO), project management was the Achilles heel of this fast-growing and successfully expanding family-owned company. “We were only able to do rough estimates for resources,” he recalls. This meant that time and again projects would be started without the corresponding resource availability.
Resource management is a complex topic for the Böblingen-based family-owned company. Certified partners in Eastern Europe and Asia manufacture the products the company sells as the brand owner. Not rarely, are these partners changed or new ones added. This can be due to cost, capacity increase, and avoidance of default risks.
These cases require a transfer of technology – the production expertise has to be passed on from one partner to the next. “This is always a tricky and expensive process which takes one and a half to two years,” explains the PMO. These technological transfers account for a good third of the projects managed by WÖRWAG Pharma. The remainder is split between product optimization, the introduction of new products, IT projects etc.
With each project, WÖRWAG Pharma was faced with a question that was simply impossible to answer. Which resources are available?
Another interesting read: Resource Management Software – The Requirements
Against this backdrop, management made the strategic decision to introduce software-based project management. In terms of digitalization, WÖRWAG Pharma had already made considerable progress.
“We had introduced Microsoft Office 365 and started working with Microsoft Teams – just in time before the Corona crisis,” Armbruster reports. Likewise, they were about to switch to SharePoint. Hence, it was obvious to begin looking for a project management solution in the Microsoft sphere.
Workshop to Propel Decision-Making
“It was clear that we needed a professional partner,” recalls Armbruster. The expertise TPG The Project Group demonstrated on its website and YouTube channel prompted him to make contact. “We began with a joint workshop which attracted wide interest at WÖRWAG Pharma,” explains Michael Nicholson who took over the new customer from Böblingen for TPG.
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“As we had no previous experience with digital project management,” Armbruster relates, “we had to begin by defining what we actually needed.” They asked themselves: would a big, comprehensive solution be the right thing?
The Packaged Solution to Get Started with Digital Project Management
During the workshop, TPG presented the impressive range of possibilities. The Böblingen-based employees were thrilled with the possibilities Microsoft Project Server provided. Yet, they felt the complexity of an extensive full implementation was too great to begin with. “We wanted to get a chance to become acquainted with the system and gain experience with digital project management”, says Armbruster. And last but not least, WÖRWAG Pharma wanted to implement the new solution quickly.
“So we decided on TPG QuickStart plus TPG TeamManager,” says the PMO. TPG expert Nicholson: “This was an important argument: it enabled the customer to get started within a week.”
TPG QuickStart was also the product behind the transformation featured in the following case studies:
TPG TeamManager was an important part of the solutions for integrated project and resource management for electricity supplier Swissgrid as well as for Sunfire (see link above).
Special Download: Advantages of MS Project Server / Project Online over MS Project Standard
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TPG QuickStart is a solution with operational, preconfigured elements at a fixed price. Based on Microsoft Project Online, it enables WÖRWAG to standardize processes in project management and adds transparency for planning resources and dates. At the same time, TPG QuickStart offers a range of options for subsequent enhancement, such as for example the SAP connection WÖRWAG contemplates for the future.
Best-Practice Training Sessions Meet with Enormous Interest
“One key to the success of the newly introduced project management solution are the training sessions”, stresses Nicholson. They involve much more than user training. The TPG expert frequently presents best practice examples in Böblingen. “They meet with enormous interest.”
After the first tentative steps with the new software, the users at WÖRWAG Pharma headquarters in Germany have increasingly integrated TPG QuickStart into their everyday work. Armbruster: “The users are divided into three groups: project team members, project managers and team leaders or resource managers.”
The employees now have a single point of contact, one single link for task management, minutes and documents as well as lists. At the end of each working week, they use the project management solution to enter the number of hours they took for their project work and their estimate of the remaining effort for the coming weeks.
The update of the project plans is fully automated. Therefore, the project plans provide both a one-hundred percent documentation of the project progression in the past and a meaningful estimate of the effort to expect in the future.
After the first training session, I already felt very confident using the new software.
The reports included in the product visualize the data for each target group – project team members and project managers as well as team leaders or resource managers. The aggregated data permit the mapping of scenarios for the future. In turn, this makes it possible to realize long-term resource planning.
SAP Connection Could Be the Next Step
Bernhard Armbruster – who is a seasoned project management expert and adept IT user – experienced the introduction of TPG QuickStart and TPG TeamManager as a fast and well-functioning process. “After the first training session, I already felt very confident using the new software,” he explains.
Actually, Armbruster completed this administrator training, which also took place remotely via Microsoft Teams, in only one day and therefore in half the allocated time.
We talk on the phone once a week. Even with complex questions, I quickly get an answer. The response time is top-notch.
Michael Nicholson is the WÖRWAG PMO’s central contact person for all questions arising from the ongoing operation.
“We talk on the phone once a week. Even with complex questions, I quickly get an answer. The response time is top-notch,” commends Armbruster. And as everything is going well, he already envisages the next steps. “The SAP connection,” he announces, “could be the next step.”
Please send us your feedback! Have you encountered a similar challenge? What do you think of the approach taken by WÖRWAG Pharma and TPG? We look forward to receiving your comments below.