How the PMO Impressed their Executives (AstraZeneca Interview)

Tom Benedetto - Global Head of OPAL Program GMD Operations, AstraZeneca - addresses the benefits of the Planisware solution (known as "OPAL") that is currently being used by more than 8,000 people worldwide and how it gives the PMO as well as executive leadership the right information for rapid and efficient decision making.

An interview with Tom Benedetto, Global Head of Opal Program GMD Operations, AstraZeneca


I'm Tom Benedetto, I work for AstraZeneca. My role is I run the Opal Program, which is our Planisware application, at AstraZeneca.

What does AstraZeneca do?

We're a biotech and pharmaceutical company in really 3 big areas: oncology, respiratory, and inflammation, and we have some infection as well. It's about 50,000 employees worldwide. It's a global company all over - China, Japan, US, UK, Sweden, so it's pretty diversified.

Why adopt a PPM tool?

It was actually going way back when - some of the challenges we had with AstraZeneca were just trying to determine basic schedules, all in one place, having resource demand, budgeting.. We were doing all that in various different tools, or Excel even, and we needed to have something that was fully integrated - a complete cross-functionally bought-into schedule, budget, forecast, and even actual spend. What are we spending? What are we forecasting? We didn't have that ability before - we had other tools to do it, but they weren't really doing it as quickly, and as effectively as we are able to do it now with Planisware.

How is Planisware being used at AstraZeneca?

We have roughly, between AstraZeneca and MedImmune, from a project planning standpoint, we probably have close to 1500 users. With TimeCard included, we're probably around 8,000 in total, worldwide. We are using it for TimeCard, project planning, scheduling, resource forecasting, we use attrition-based risk management as well, with it. We're pretty much putting it to its paces.

How has AstraZeneca benefitted from using Planisware software?

I can give you an example where we wanted to accelerate some of our programs. It would have been something that would have probably taken a week or more to figure out what the cost was, what was actually feasible to accelerate. This is pretty important. We had a new CEO coming in. He wanted to know what can I do? How quickly can we do it? What's it going to cost? We were able to turn it around in 6 hours, which we would never have been able to do, and we might have gotten different answers from different people if we had done it the way that things were done previously. And I think it impressed our CEO - and it turned out to be accurate. Those types of things we just weren't able to do before at all.

The speed for decision making, the turnaround time that we were able to get, the accuracy of the information that we provide and that rapid turnaround time - it's been instrumental in running our business over the past 6 or 7 years now that we have had the Planisware application, and we're looking for even more things with V6 coming out in the future.

How does AstraZeneca measure ROI for using the system?

The cost upfront isn't insignificant, but the benefits are very clear, very rapid. We've looked in the past, I know that there have been situations across the years that I've been with Planisware before AstraZeneca, and even during, we've looked at other vendors that provide software - no one [else] has all of the things that you need in one place to do the things that we need to get done. So while it might cost us a little bit up front, we're large enough that we have to do this. You have to be able to determine what your schedules are, what your costs are, in a rapid manner, how many resources is this going to take.

What do you like most about working with Planisware?

The thing that I like most about it is the ability to be customized to what you need. I've never been able to find something that Planisware can't do. So every time we've asked, well, we'd like to show something just a little bit different than maybe what we have now - is that an option? The answer's always yes, and this is how you do it. That's something I really like about Planisware and the software system.

(Michel) Tom, thank you so much for spending a few minutes with us today.
(Tom) Alright, thank you.