Customer testimonial: “This is something we should have been doing all along.”


This global pharmaceutical company makes a difference through a wide range of prescription medications, consumer health products, and vaccines. From treating dry skin to easing chronic pain to preventing debilitating diseases through vaccination, the products and processes their more than 90,000 employees develop touch millions worldwide.

But, when it was time to fix what ailed their internal IT and product development organization, they called in the experts from Cprime.

The Problem

Agile and product maturity and collaboration

The organization had already implemented the basics of agile, but their teams ranged in maturity, making fruitful collaboration and cross-team interaction difficult. They had about 46 teams working on individual products—too many to allow sufficient visibility into what was being done and when.

Discovery and silos

The discovery stage preceding the execution process—really understanding the customer experience and how to best capture the customer journey through defined product outcomes–was also a challenge. A few years prior to the engagement they had reorganized by moving the product owners out of the business and into the tech organization. An unintended consequence of creating this move was the creation of a silo limiting the day-to-day exposure that product owners would normally have to the business side of things and the direct end users.

The Scope

Recommendation: Lean Portfolio Management

Cprime experts recognized that the organization needed to move toward Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) to enhance the value of their product and agile practice and scale it effectively. Improved customer centric, portfolio management also allows for an increase in value delivery to their customers more effectively and more often.
Establishing a foundational LPM program required a multi-pronged effort:

  • Two strategic coaches from Cprime worked with leadership and executive stakeholders at the portfolio level to develop an effective transformation and change management plan across the organization and multiple teams.
  • Worked with the pharma technology group to move them closer to a product organization, focusing on larger product lines rather than smaller, individual products and projects in silos.
  • Three Cprime team coaches worked with individual teams to strengthen foundational agile and product practices that weren’t being followed consistently, such as customer journey mapping, scrum ceremonies, and capacity planning.

Achieving portfolio visibility and predictability would allow everyone to understand what they will be working on and why, with a focus on getting the end-user the right features, enhancements, or information so they can be successful.

Execution: LPM

After the initial coaching and planning was finished, the LPM experts from Cprime moved forward with a pilot program in two initial cadences to build on the foundations that had been laid:

  • Nine teams and a subset of the full pharma technology portfolio served as a pilot program to achieve the necessary level of maturity with more consistent agile practices, enhanced product discovery, and improved delivery.
  • The first cadence was the quarterly portfolio planning and prioritization, helping business and tech leadership understand how to develop impact driven product visions with defined outcomes, while making capacity decisions and identifying trade-offs based on other support work, enhancements, and priorities across multiple regions.This yields a single, prioritized portfolio backlog to pass along to the product teams for planning and execution.
  • The second cadence was about the product teams planning and executing together. This began with the first PI planning session–bringing together hundreds of team members, product owners, and scrum masters from two continents in a large, three-day virtual event–where the product teams synthesize the prioritized portfolio backlog to plan out their sprints in the quarter. After all the teams commit to an achievable plan at the end of PI planning, they now have the information needed (high level planned sprints, expected feature delivery, identified risks, impediments, and dependencies) to execute a predictable quarter, meeting each sprint to ensure progress against quarterly commitments and adjusting where needed.

Coming out of the PI planning event, stakeholders from all levels of the organization agreed, this was something they should have been doing and would continue doing despite the time and effort involved.

The Outcome

Coming out of this series of engagements, the client has a much clearer understanding of how and why to prioritize work at the highest level with a focus on value to the customer. The new operating cadence has made planning more effective while becoming easier, and the portfolio is becoming more consistent and predictable with each subsequent PI. Visibility across the organization has never been clearer or more comprehensive.
We’re proud to continue to work with this client as new coaching opportunities have arisen, and they are thrilled with the value they’ve derived from the relationship.