Today is launch day, a big day that has been coming for more than twelve months, today will see the finished product, the Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) demonstrated to the most senior team of our organisation.

Eighteen months ago I inherited the procurement of CPMS as a large programme into my directorate, the delivery of the system had been blighted by a number of false starts due the organisational desire to try and build one system that meets the needs of very many ‘special’ functions rather than a solution that meets the generic 80%.

The first six months was the tender process, open dialogue with a number of suppliers, all desperate to prove that they could deliver the first global ‘data spine’ for clinical research performance information, a solution that today we all realise is highly saleable in the global market, after it has delivered in the UK.

The last ten months has been build and define in swift iterations that has shown the team how hard IT delivery can be and also how rewarding it is. Today we allow the commissioners of our organisation to get their hands on the system in a series of scenarios we call Helm Seat Scenarios. A great deal of work from across the whole business has gone into making sure the system that is delivered is one that meets the requirements fully and really makes the fabled step change in how clinical research is managed through the use of information systems.

What will be fascinating is what the senior team make of CPMS, they don’t use operational systems on a day to day basis so won’t come with the preconceived ideas of what the current system does, they do however use commercial IT projects like anyone in the UK today, so it really will be a test of the desire to ensure the commercialisation of IT is considered in the development of the system. Will the leadership team see that the capture, manage and inform processes are now as easy as booking a holiday with Easy Jet. The Easy Jet reference is a real point that came from the senior team, a belief that information should be as easy to handle in clinical research as it is in the summer sun industry!

With the path to live though we have had a launch event on the plan all along, even though go live is not until quarter one of next year there is a desire to launch the product to the senior team, gain their confidence and enthusiasm for the system before we begin exposing the system to the whole networked organisation. So today really will be a crucial moment, the point when people who have not been living and breathing the solution see it for the first time, a real ‘Ta Da!’ moment.

However that needs to be the last magical reference as the system launch could never be ‘smoke and mirrors’. When designing the launch event we knew we would need to allow the team to get their hands on the system, even though it’s a system they would not ordinarily use. If we didn’t then there would always be that nagging suspicion that we had shown them only the ‘happy path’. So today we have the concept of ‘Helms Seat’, not anything like Helms Deep I hope, more like chance for the team to step into the flight simulator and see what the new jet engine will feel like to the customers on their way to a sunnier climate.

So, posting this now, with an update for the interested parties later, fingers crossed, no ladders walked under and as much preparation as anyone can do before doing live demonstrations and letting a user base loose on a brand new system still going through UAT!


So, an update, it was great, really well recieved by the senior team, lots of positive comments about the clean look and feel and the functionality. A great comparison to the Wright Brothers in as far as the step change the system will make! Most importantly though was a realisation that the hard work is ahead of us, the cultural change that the IT system will now allow and therefore the cultural change that we as an organisation now need to facilitate…. A very happy programme team too which makes going into the Christmas break really wonderful…