Transparent Product Development Process
How Dr. Loges significantly decreases time-to-market
The SME pharmaceutical manufacturer Dr. Loges started using the project management solution InLoox in 2020. The goal is to increase the transparency of the complex processes behind all new product developments and speed up the time-to-market for their products.
Dr. Loges + Co. GmbH develops and produces herbal and homeopathic pharmaceutical products as well as dietary supplements. As an innovation leader, the family-owned company faces the permanent challenge of bringing new products to market on time and faster than competitors. Currently, the range comprises around 75 products in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia - and is set to grow further.
In 2020, the company was looking for a software solution for new product development that would enable it to manage tasks and processes clearly and improve coordination between teams. The reason: The Excel spreadsheets that had been used to plan and manage projects until then were too time-consuming to maintain.
"My main responsibility is to develop specialized new products and bring them to market, not to administrate projects," says Michael Stein, Head of Portfolio Management, explaining Dr. Loges + Co. GmbH's decision in favor of InLoox. "That's why I want to spend as little time as possible on project management - at most one to two hours per week." Stein sees a clear advantage in the integration of the InLoox solution with Outlook, which allows all project members to use it intuitively. In addition, its type and range of features are very well tailored to the complexity and project size at Dr. Loges.
The project management solution mainly supports new product launches as part of the stage-gate process, but also projects such as drug approval activities, trial projects, strategic projects on raw materials and active ingredients, and individual projects in (digital) marketing, such as the management of the various Dr. Loges homepages in the respective countries.
Planning of the new product development processes with 8 to 10 projects on an ongoing basis
Around 35 of the 170 employees of the pharmaceutical manufacturer are involved in the development of new products across various departments, some of which differ from project to project. The focus is on planning, in which the dependencies between tasks are visualized in Gantt charts. Each new product launch at Dr. Loges involves 127 tasks, and is mapped and planned in a separate project. Currently, Stein and his colleague manage eight to ten projects in parallel each year as project managers.
Apart from the transparent presentation of tasks and responsibilities in the projects, the notification function is of central importance for the project managers. For it is the only way that everyone involved in the process knows when they need to start working on their pending tasks. All project members must mark their tasks as completed upon completion, and the project managers receive direct feedback. Stein also welcomes the fact that InLoox also takes dynamic changes into account, because schedules can change frequently and at any time during product launches.
Five stages to a successful market launch
At Dr. Loges, every product goes through the five-stage Stage-Gate Process before it reaches market maturity. This process starts with a product development plan created based on a template in InLoox. This plan includes, for one, all the tasks needed for each product candidate to be launched, as well as their assignment to the responsible employee. Second, it also includes all decisions made by the five subsequent instances. "We take a classic kill-and-go approach with our gates," says Stein.
The five stages of a successful product launch extend - roughly outlined here - from the initial testing of the idea itself, through compliance with regulations at Gate 2, scientific and marketing testing at Gate 3, to commercial and management approval for implementation of the preparation at Gate 4, and finally to realization of the product concept approved at Gate 4, which is completed when the product passes through Gate 5, the market launch.
Each individual phase requires a great deal of detailed work, research and investigation in order to meet the company's claim of offering customers innovative products with high added value.
Stein's experience so far shows "that InLoox is a good project management tool, especially when several departments collaborate and work on a project."
Prerequisites for a successful software implementation
The technical support provided by the software manufacturer played a significant role in the successful introduction of the project management solution. "The support team was very helpful with all the technical questions," emphasizes Stein. The internal training sessions for project members proved to be particularly important, he says, and Stein has two tips for future users: "After purchase, we highly recommend scheduling a training session to learn the system's capabilities and tricks for easy use. Likewise, the solution should be quickly applied using your own projects - in the sense of 'learning by doing'." Because it's a lot like driving a car: Without training and practice, it becomes difficult.
More reliable planning, faster and more productive
In his preliminary conclusion, Stein expects project staff to benefit from more structured processes in the future. For example, they will be able to plan their day-to-day work better if they are reminded of their tasks in good time in the event of postponed schedules. And the project manager will save time twice over, because they will have to deal with fewer follow-up questions and will be able to reuse templates for new projects. In the intermediate term, the completion of individual tasks will also be accelerated because the project team members can plan their tasks early. In addition, there are strong learning curve effects in the number of projects processed in InLoox. For the future, Dr. Loges plans to expand the project management solution even further and to use it in more departments.
"My main task is to develop specialized new products and bring them to market, not to manage projects. So I want to spend as little time as possible on project management - about one to two hours a week."
"InLoox is a good project management tool, especially when several departments collaborate and work on a project."
Michael Stein, Head of Portfolio Management | Dr. Loges + Co. GmbH
Dr. Loges + Co. GmbH operates in an environment characterized by high regulatory, competitive and price pressure. In order to achieve short time-to-market for new product development, the inflexible, manually very maintenance-intensive system of Excel project plans was to be replaced.
The company was looking for a solution that offered a transparent representation of tasks and responsibilities, as well as a visualization of the dynamically changing schedules.The solution also had to be integrated with Outlook and have a notification function for employees when tasks are pending or completed.
Since the introduction of InLoox, project plans and processes have been documented in a structured manner, thus reducing the maintenance effort and minimizing the number of follow-up questions. Thanks to the master template for the product development plan, Dr. Loges saves additional time.
The high level of transparency in ongoing projects makes everyday work easier to plan for project staff and improves both effort estimates and coordination between project managers and staff.