From ‘accidental PMs’ to disciplined project management: How this medical business is now taking projects to successful delivery

Key deliverables

  • Project review to help the Client understand its existing Delivery DNA
  • Development of a strategic approach to establishing effective project delivery discipline across the organisation.
  • Establishment of a fit-for-purpose PMO.
  • Provided capability uplift across the organisation
  • Strategic management of multiple stakeholders to show them what ‘good looks like’
  • Supporting the executive to remain business-fit for success in future projects.


With its strong history in medical research, development, and manufacturing, the Australian branch of a global medical company was facing a significant challenge: One of its most profitable product patents was approaching expiration. The business was gearing up significantly to embrace the changes that this would bring, as it had to be ready to take new products to market within a near horizon.

The business was already on the path toward major transformation with an approved program of work, however, they needed to be business-fit and ready to adapt.

As a highly specialist business made up of subject matter experts within their field, the majority of projects in the program were being delivered by what we call ‘accidental project managers’. They recognised there was a lack of process, governance and consistency in their approach to project delivery, which made it difficult for management to:

  • Have predictability and consistency in delivery and quality outcomes
  • Assess the success of the projects as they varied significantly in achieving expected outcomes
  • Evaluate the benefits to the business

The business was ill-equipped to deliver consistently and recognised that they needed the input of an external organisation that could take management on the transformation journey and provide capability uplift in project delivery across the organisation – from the sponsors of each project to the individual project managers – so that all were marching to the same drum.

The Client went to the market and engaged Quay initially to conduct a review and then establish a Project Management Office (PMO). The objective was to ensure their various project teams would be delivering consistently against a project management framework that would enable the business to realise the benefits that were required for the scale of change that was coming.

The Challenge

The Client had been delivering projects of varying size and complexity such as launching products, delivering events, taking new services to the market, and building a customer portal.

Lacking the discipline of a project management framework, the outcomes for these projects was mixed, the business had no real visibility of its project pipeline, nor could it see where its strategic projects had interdependencies or suboptimal resourcing.

Our Approach

Quay reviewed the as-is state to understand where the client was in terms of the project maturity curve and, knowing that a key outcome for the business was capability uplift across the organisation, we adapted a crawl-walk-run approach.

The PMO would provide the Client with significant value in professionalising its project management delivery.

We worked closely with the business to understand its delivery DNA and uncovered several deeply entrenched challenges around executive influence, managing stakeholders, and a lack of understanding of what “good” actually looked like.

Quay engaged the executive stakeholders to review what was delivering successes or failures for the business and assessing the capability of the business to work towards implementing a PMO. The review identified issues that would continue to undermine the Client’s ability to deliver successful projects, including:

  • Too many projects, many not being completed properly or on time
  • Stakeholder perception that the organisation ran out of steam and often failed to complete or review projects properly
  • Challenges in influencing the executive team to commit to delivering projects within an established framework
  • The tendency of the business to initiate and develop projects without the proper scope, defined methodologies, or stage gates
  • The existence of global project management, however, it was arduous, and executives would often initiate their own projects
  • That a PMO was the right vehicle to get them on track if they addressed these issues.

Quay was embedded into two projects to engage the steering committees and demonstrate to the executive what a ‘good’ steerco could achieve, how to gain buy-in from stakeholders, and what needed to be done to deliver the outcomes the business needed to see as ‘successful’. This also helped the Client to sustain momentum from inception to delivery for those projects.

With the PMO established, the Client decided to hire a full-time PMO Manager, however, re-engaged Quay when they recognised that they needed an independent partner who could facilitate the implementation of the strategy and support the business to embed the new project delivery DNA across the organisation. Quay focused on delivering the outcomes; guiding, coaching, and mentoring across all levels of the business; and providing supplementary resources where needed.

The Outcomes

Quay has delivered a fully functioning PMO, which remains a strategic partner to the Executive and is actively supporting the Project Managers across the organisation to successfully deliver their projects. We remain actively engaged in the business as the company runs all of its projects through the same frameworks and methodologies.

This has enabled the Client to have a better structure in its projects and those projects are now delivering sustainable benefits into the business. The Client has also engaged Quay to help deliver specialist and specific projects that required additional capability, for example, business analysis and data analysis.

As its executive team has undergone substantial change, the Quay-led PMO remains active and present within the business, sitting on the Australian management team to assist with reviewing projects and strategic initiatives.

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To speak to our team about how we can help your business deliver better projects, please contact us.

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Quay Consulting
Quay Consulting is a professional services business specialising in the project landscape, transforming strategy into fit-for-purpose delivery. Meet our team ...