Tom Peters, the management guru, has been one of the strongest proponents of the "virtual company", arguing that imaginative use of modern information technology renders the corporation redundant.
Virtual companies do not have any technical resource under their direct control and use consultants and other outside agencies to advise on the various stages of the product development. The people managing the company must have very good project management skills to keep the development on track.
Typically a virtual company will license a potential new product from a non-commercial research organisation and then manage the process through to successful launch onto the market using CROs under contract, but often as partners in an alliance. Management is restricted to a Managing Director with a few key personnel, such as a Project Manager, Trial Manager and a Marketing Development Manager, supported by a limited number of non-managerial staff.
Virtual companies are based on the premise that core competencies within chemical and pharmaceutical companies lie in discovery research and not in development. There are many contract research and manufacturing companies who do have the necessary skills for the product development process and the job of the virtual company is to access these skills and then utilise them in an efficient way. The hub in which such a virtual pharmaceutical company operates is illustrated in Figure B9.
Although still in their infancy and still to really prove their worth through the ups and downs of the economic cycle, there is no doubt that virtual companies are here to stay, and will take their place among the variety of companies that make up the speciality chemical and pharmaceutical areas of the industry.
An interesting development that can be used by companies to answer some of their R&D problems, involves the use of internet sites for forums designed to be virtual knowledge bases, for example InnoCentive. On this website companies can anonymously describe their scientific problems so that they can be solved by outsiders. Over 50,000 scientists have registered with InnoCentive so there is an excellent chance that someone has an answer out there in virtual space. The person who successfully answers the problem gets a not insignificant cash prize from the seeker company [B-41]. Several major companies such as Procter & Gamble and Henkel say they have benefited from the use of InnoCentive [B-42].
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.