Industry: Life sciences
Founded: 2007
Location(s): Vancouver, British Columbia (HQ)
Financials: Private

Strategic Partners:
- 50 affiliated universities and research institutes
- 26 Canadian health sciences SMEs/entrepreneurs
- 6 top global pharmaceutical companies
- 8 world-leading translational research centres
- 3 patient-focused foundations

CDRD PPM Profile
Project teams: NPD/R&D (3 primary portfolios)
PPM Resources: ~20 PMs (Project Champions), ~90-100 project team members, 3 PMO staff members, ~50 active projects on average

The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is Canada’s national life sciences venture, powering the country’s life sciences industry by creating and growing companies of scale. In collaboration with partners, CDRD provides the specialized expertise and infrastructure to identify, validate and advance promising discoveries, and transform them into commercially viable investment opportunities for the private sector — and ultimately into new therapies for patients.

Initiative Overview

"The impact to our business was that we couldn’t easily answer the question ‘are our resources aligned with our strategic priorities?’ There was an information gap and it was mission critical that we close it."

- Doug Erfle, Director of Project and Portfolio Management

Before implementing Sciforma, CDRD managed its R&D projects using a combination of desktop tools (e.g. MS Excel, PowerPoint, Project) for project tracking, email for project team communications/workflow, and share drives for collaboration.

As a result, PPM processes were manual and disconnected. Further, CDRD did not have real-time visibility into how resources were being allocated relative to their strategic objectives and plan. The information existed, but since it was not readily available and integrated, the decision-making process at the portfolio level was time-consuming and inefficient.

At the project execution level, manual processes were impacting project cycle time and time-to-market (i.e. the time required to prepare a viable business case and transition the investable opportunity to an external partner for further development). This is a critical success factor for the business.

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Business Drivers and Requirements

Improve quality of decision making
- Resource allocation visibility by strategy portfolio
- Real-time portfolio status reporting

Increase speed/efficiency of PPM processes to optimize cycle time
- Centralized/cloud data and document repository (“single version of truth”)
- Automation and integration of project artifacts in a single system (strategies, resources, schedules, timesheets, project data, etc.)

Leverage enterprise PPM system process discipline and visibility
- Consistent, repeatable workflows and rules (e.g. billing time to active projects)
- System configurability and flexibility to adapt to multiple unique planning and management processes and fluid project and resource managers

Sciforma Solution

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Software Critical Capabilities: Resource management, Project Scheduling/planning, PPM reporting/dashboard, Collaboration/work management, Program/Portfolio management

Technical Choices: Cloud data center - required to be located in Canada per privacy laws, Sciforma Cloud administration, maintainence/automatic upgrade required due to limited CDRD IT resources.

Services: end-user and admin training, implementation and integration

Expected/Realized Benefits & Next Steps


While it is still early in the deployment, CDRD is already seeing benefits aligned with the key business driver to improve strategic decision making, citing ease of mapping and viewing resource allocations by portfolio strategy.


CDRD reports that it is already easier to find project and portfolio information and this increase in data visibility is expected to contribute to improved project cycle time metrics. Other validated process efficiency benefits include ease of reporting, project scheduling (which was found to be much more intuitive than MS Project), and time tracking (leveraging statistics provided under resource management dashboards).


The next steps in the Sciforma initiative is to train project managers on resource validation and applying timesheets to their projects. A formal roll-out to all remaining team members including the executive team will follow.