Proven IT Industry Solutions for the Management of Projects R&D in Chemical, Pharma and Life Sciences Industries

Research and development in industries such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotech / life sciences is characterized by big investments and strategic portfolio management. Many companies have highly dynamic and innovative product portfolios, making it important to prioritize and select the right projects.

Product Care underpins the ongoing further development of products such as drugs, active ingredients and technical equipment. The R&D projects in this industry usually have relatively long durations.

Professional Project Management Across Borders

Due to high CAPEX expenses and complexity, research and development is often undertaken across distributed locations. People collaborate across departments and even companies – nationally and globally – and this is common for these industries. Almost all companies practice permanent budget planning and control in the form of fluctuating running forecasts.

Over more than 20 years, TPG The Project Group has gathered many references in the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Based on our experience, we have put together the following list of things that should be included in an appropriate project and portfolio management (PPM) solution for product development in these industries.

Expand the following text modules to read about the proven components of solutions for research and development projects in the chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries based on Microsoft or Planisware technologies.

Microsoft Project Server – or its cloud-based version Project Online – is a powerful and user-friendly tool for enterprise project and portfolio management (PPM). Research directors, project managers and project staff all use a common work and information platform for their work in research and development.

The web-based solution is intuitive and easy to handle due to its similarity and tight integration with the Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Office / Microsoft 365 environment. The role-based concept ensures “seeing instead of searching”, in other words, project staff only see the information they require for their role.

Benefits of Microsoft Project Server / Project Online

  • Role-based tool for all stakeholders and decision-makers
  • Central data storage of structured information on all projects
  • Multiple options for reports on and evaluations of all projects
  • Centralized and standardized document storage in SharePoint
  • Project plans can be edited in both the browser and Project Client
  • Also available as a cloud solution (Project Online)

More information on Microsoft Project Server or Project Online.

Microsoft Project Server / Project Online offers centralized project management as well as strategic portfolio management. It helps managers determine, select, manage and deploy portfolios aligned with the business strategy.

This allows them to determine the optimal project portfolio based on strategic business drivers, planned project costs and available budget.

Using Project Server / Project Online Portfolio Planning

  • Define individually determinable strategic business drivers
  • Weight business drivers against each other
  • Take project interdependencies into account
  • Select the projects to be realized – these can be adjusted manually if necessary 
  • Transfer projects directly into project plan using Project Server / Project Online as an integrated PPM solution

More information on Microsoft Project Server or Project Online.

Microsoft Project Server is a powerful tool for centralized, enterprise-wide project management. Used in conjunction with an add-on tool designed especially for program management, it enables users to easily monitor the status of all sub-projects.

Managers can communicate top-down targets at the program level by simply mirroring milestones and other key information to the sub-project level.

Bottom-up planning is also available, as project participants can report current plan data from their sub-projects to program management for further control.

High Flexibility due to Data Sharing in Both Directions

  • Automatic milestone rollups at the click of a mouse enable users to visualize key milestones of the sub-projects in the program schedule
  • Top-down planning: the program manager creates a plan at the program level with target milestones and important key data. These are automatically displayed in the operative sub-projects
  • The project managers of the sub-projects now align their planning to the set target
  • Bottom-up planning: important milestones in the operative sub-projects can be transferred back to the program level for the next plan

More information on program management with TPG ProjectLink.

Microsoft Project Server / Project Online is based on SharePoint Server / Online, which facilitates collaboration in teams. Project team sites, discussion forums and wikis are part of this solution that helps companies manage knowledge in research and development.

Microsoft Project Server / Project Online can be exhanced with “Softlinks” that show users important tasks in other projects.

If required, these links can also be implemented across several companies without having to show users complete external schedules (such as those of suppliers or customers).

Transparency and Benefits of “Softlinks”

  • Project managers can easily select important tasks from other projects to mirror or link them in their schedule
  • The selected tasks are displayed for information in their own project plan
  • Project managers can select the tasks to be mirrored without having to see entire external projects
  • Links across companies are also easy to implement using “Softlinks”

Microsoft Teams also offers Unified Communication, which integrates well with the project management environment.

More information on TPG ProjectLink.

Project managers work best with a project management system optimized for their needs such as Microsoft Project Server / Project Online.

Controllers, however, are more at home with an ERP system such as SAP or Dynamics AX.

The integration of the two systems for bidirectional data exchange makes things much easier for everyone.

Data Sharing and Benefits of Integrated Environments

  • Managers can import detailed budgets, actual costs, actual work and commitments from SAP enabling them to check the projects’ costs and time against the plan and the budget
  • Project managers are always well-informed on the spent, the assigned and the available budget at the level of work packages
  • The need for dual data entry is eliminated leading to a lower error rate
  • Improved data quality for project managers, controllers and management underpins better decisions
  • Project managers and controllers each work with the tool that is right for them, increasing acceptance of the overall solution

More information on SAP integration via TPG PSLink® middleware.

Microsoft Project Server / Project Online provides important reports on individual projects or project portfolios at your fingertips. A role-based concept and access rights ensure that project members and managers only see the reports that are intended for them.

Individually adapted to customer needs, the automated reporting system brings a wealth of benefits to the entire organization.

Benefits of a Centralized Reporting System

  • Current reports at your fingertips ⇒ elimination of manual work
  • Standardization of reports ⇒ better comparisons
  • Current data of all projects ⇒ strict compliance with reporting periods
  • Immediate availability of important data ⇒ better decision-making ability
  • Overview of all projects and statuses ⇒ consolidated project information (traffic lights, amounts and more)
  • Focus on key projects ⇒ project selection criteria
  • Details for deep-diving into individual projects ⇒ status report, cost report, risk analysis, etc.
  • Output of the reports on demand ⇒ Excel, PowerPoint, PDF or other formats in the corporate design

More information on TPG ReportPack.

Learn more about Microsoft Power BI, the powerful online reporting service in Microsoft 365.

Multi-projects and programs are managed on the basis of important milestones within the sub-projects that can be rolled up from all sub-projects into a central overview. Managers find it useful to see how the milestones have changed over time. However, Microsoft Project Server / Project Online only includes 10 baselines.

TPG helps by providing an integrated Milestone Trend Analysis (MTA) chart to support analysis and ensure timely detection of bottlenecks.

Capabilities and Benefits of MTA for Project Server

  • Regular automatic snapshots of project schedules
  • The graphical visualization shows deadline changes to important milestones
  • Trends can be derived from delays, providing an early indication of the potential risk regarding the project end date
  • The automatic snapshots of schedules give project team members a better awareness of milestones and deadlines

Download the free MTA for MS Project Client.


“Efficient reporting is the biggest benefit of Project Server. We know that the project numbers – including financials from SAP – are timely, reliable, and consistent. With Project Server linked to SAP, we can gauge the financial success of projects, comparing actual with budgeted figures, and provide management with the ability to exert meaningful control.”

Jani Saarinen, Senior Manager in Research & Development, Kemira