DuPont Genencor Science Renovates R&D and IT Project Planning
Written by Mindjet
Scientist Todd Becker leads Genencor International’s Delivery Systems Group, and reports the department’s biggest challenge is managing the ongoing deluge of vendors offering complex and expensive information management solutions. Becker realised that his staff wanted a flexible tool that captures and organises complex information to disseminate to multiple audiences. It was soon discovered that the need for project management tools extended beyond the R&D department. Director of Information Technology, Linda Manuel, was seeking a crisp method for IT expense justification to senior management.
Said Manuel, “In any company, management is always nervous that IT is not utilising resources– that we tend to be big capital spenders. A chief concern is investing in a new technology simply because it’s cool, or that we are buying too much.”
Moreover, Manuel needed a platform to create a common understandable language for its diverse audiences.
“We hold a lot of cross-function meetings. Scientists work with business people. Business people, with manufacturing teams. It’s important for us to have the right tools to present new and often complicated ideas to many departments in a format that everyone can understand.”
Becker, a biochemist, manages ten other scientists who develop product formulations, such as enzymes used in healthcare, personal care and therapeutics, as well as chemical and biochemical. His R&D department has, on average, more than twenty projects going at any given time. Key to his managing these projects is keeping a high-level view while being able to access relevant details as needed to learn more about a particular topic. Becker maintains this dual view by designing project maps in Mindjet to segregate data into core technologies, such as stabilisation and granulation. The maps show the projects each scientist is working on within every core area. Because of the illustrative aspect of information map design, Becker is able to quickly see how work being done on one project relates to another.
“A number of our projects have to do with stabilising molecules, so the common theme is developing the technology to create more stable proteins,” Becker says. “If you did every project separately there would be no collaborative benefit. But if you can develop a standard method, then you could use the same technology platform for all similar projects. Mindjet helps us leverage this kind of synergy.”
Genencor’s IT department also yielded results from Mindjet. Linda Manuel saw how R&D was using Mindjet and realised that it could also be an effective IT project management tool.
“I use Mindjet to do my project planning for the coming year,” Manuel says. “Within IT we have four main areas: collaborative technologies, R&D data systems, operations and infrastructure, and enterprise projects/enterprise support. Each of these areas overlaps the others. By building a map of the projects we’re doing in each area, I get a clear picture of how we can share resources and expertise across the projects.”
Another issue for IT was justifying their spending. By using Mindjet, Manuel discovered it was more of a matter of clarity than overextension.
“By mapping IT projects, I can show clearly where we are leveraging the same technology across projects, reusing tools, resources, people, technology and servers.” The maps help Manuel understand how best to optimise Genencor assets and relay that knowledge to senior decision makers.
Becker says that overall Mindjet tools make meetings more efficient.
“The main benefit is time savings. We now usually run meetings by projecting a map on the wall, then using it to capture meeting input in a way that everyone can see. You bring people together for a limited time, capture their ideas and information, set action items and assignments, and everyone leaves the meeting with a clear understanding of what was accomplished – rather than having to meet again to see if you got it right. It’s amazing to be able to go from inputting information to reaching agreement all in a single meeting.”
Genencor now uses Mindjet to accomplish what was often done elsewhere with multiple applications.
“We use it as a meeting management tool, a project planner, and an information-management system,” Becker says. “I even use it to prepare presentations – and it has cut preparation time in half. Genencor is judicious when it comes to purchasing. Most software requires a huge investment without really knowing if it is going to work for you, but the Mindjet platform is scalable. We brought it into the R&D department, showed how it immediately increased our productivity, and now other departments like IT, marketing, and sales are seeing how quickly it can improve their productivity, too”.
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