Biopharmaceutical companies often hold the view that any pipeline assets are worth committing staff and resources to; however, this ‘unconstrained’ view of project resourcing can often severely handicap companies. Indeed, projects where the difficult strategic decisions of allocating resources to only select projects can often have a positive enterprise-wide impact.

Several significant challenges are often common challenges for companies with ineffective methods for portfolio and pipeline management:

  1. No process exists for making resource tradeoffs
  2. Projects ‘limp along’, and progress slowly with lengthy cycle times
  3. Departments require ever expanding headcount or budgets to manage the pipelineInter-departmental communication failures or conflicts arise when differing views of prioritization are not aligned
  4. Resources are divvied according to who ‘screams the loudest’ instead of against the projects with the greatest likelihood of success or projected profitability
  5. Companies are often ‘surprised’ by unexpected resource bursts, which makes securing manufacturing capacity and capabilities a challenge


Companies that are able to make the tough choices of either out-licensing or placing projects on hold, often see a marked benefit in the success rates, cycle times and viability of other programs. Ironically, these actions are often viewed favorably by Wall Street, as these moves often signal a management team that is engaged and committed to pursuing the right candidates.


Our Solutions

Scimitar has helped biopharmaceutical companies of all sizes to instill novel, highly successful portfolio management solutions. These approaches typically share the following characteristics:

a.)  Leadership: An executive team is clearly identified with accountability, decision-making rights and a willingness to make ‘tough choices’ in project resourcing.

b.)  Value Assessment: A method is designed to value, select and manage project requirements. Typically, this combines elements of technical and scientific risk with financial and strategic value assessments.

c.)  Process Clarity: A routine process is developed to ensure portfolio management is aligned with strategy-setting, forecasting and budgeting, and that a phased review approach is defined.

d.)  Data Integrity: Methods for ensuring data is reliable, and accurate, and cannot be ‘gamed.’

Ultimately, effective portfolio management practices must be ingrained in the organizational culture and ‘DNA’ in order to be successful in the long-term. These approaches, when successful, promote enterprise-wide benefits by designing a structure where low-priority projects are dropped, and the right projects are resourced to thrive. 

Example Engagement:

Post-acquisition oncology leader portfolio management process

Situation: A rapidly growing biopharmaceutical company experienced challenges in resourcing for its rapidly expanding oncology pipeline. In addition, the portfolio of oncology projects had nearly doubled after the firm’s acquisition.

Approach & Outcomes

  • In working closely with the client, developed and installed a new, multi-faceted portfolio management process.
  • This included implementation of dashboards to visualize and model the pipeline, and user training to promote adherence to the newly-developed process.
  • After a 5-year retrospective analysis, solution was still implemented, with time-to-market reductions of over 20%.
  • Improved pipeline predictability, goal attainment, and resource utilization.