Project management software used to be static flowcharts of activities and team responsibilities, updated periodically, and for many business tasks, it remains that way. But the more modern approach, seen in some customer relationship management (CRM) systems or so-called “human capital management” systems is to put all the members of a project team (including outside collaborators) on a unified platform, with interactions shared among participants, and project status continually updated in near real time. Those are some of the guiding principles of a new software offering, Enlighten, from EightSpokes, Inc. (Cambridge, MA). Enlighten has been in a beta-test phase with a limited number of pharma companies (including AbbVie, Gilead, Takeda and several others); now, following a new round of private funding, the product is being offered commercially.
Enlighten is the first “enterprise project collaboration” platform for life sciences, says Andy Mehrotra, founder and CEO. As such, it can be tailored to most types of projects going on within pharma, but it is especially well suited to a drug development program, alliance management, or a product launch exercise. Beyond the project timelines and milestones, Enlighten offers “strategic transparency” (so that team members have ready access to fresh information) and “tactical privacy” (so that data access is controlled among team members and outside collaborators). A social-media element features recognition across the team of individual performance. Mehrotra says that current users of the system have experienced time savings of up to four hours per person per week in avoiding frustrating searches through documents and emails to obtain necessary information.
An early adopter is Justin Zamirowski, senior director at Edge Therapeutics (and former CEO of Otsuka America), a clinical-stage biopharma company with a lead candidate drug currently in Phase III trials. Coming to a small company, Zamirowski says that the organization lacked enterprise-level collaboration tools, and he had contemplated installing Microsoft Project Online to meet that need. “However, I knew that it was expensive as I would have to pay for consultant support to customize the system for my specific needs that we would not need for years to come or likely ever need. Out-of-the-box enterprise project management tools have very little simple reporting tools that executives can understand,” he says. “Since Enlighten is an industry-specific, cloud platform, we wouldn’t have to invest in any physical infrastructure or pay for ongoing maintenance or upgrades. And, with built-in features designed to suit our industry’s complex operating environment, we didn’t need to build or integrate a lot of additional applications yet could easily custom-configure Enlighten to meet our needs.”
Enlighten is offered as a cloud-based system (running on Amazon Web Services) with SOC2 and ISO27001 security compliance. Navigant Consulting, ZS and PwC are among the systems integrators who have worked with the product.