morgan obrein talk to expert no deviation

Talk to the expert: Morgan O’Brien, General Manager Europe, No deviation

1. Tell us more about your role at No deviation.

At the moment, I am heading our Europe office back in my hometown of Cork in Ireland. Within No deviation, I act as the practical side to Pierre’s role as a catalyst (which can be a challenge) focusing on how we deliver projects and services to our clients. 

2. How would you describe CQV Project Management in the pharmaceutical industry in a few easy-to-understand words?

Project Management, in any field including CQV, is all about Communication. While it is an obvious statement, how a Project Manager (PM) implements the structure and tools to achieve an effective and efficient Communication Strategy is the key to project success.  

Another skill set that you need to constantly tune is your ability to listen. Listening is the ability to give the information received thoughtful attention and the consideration it deserves as opposed to already having your mind made up. While it can be difficult at times, the difference between just hearing a Stakeholder’s concerns and proactively listening can be the difference between success and failure.

3. What would you tell a client that has contracted No deviation for CQV Project Management in the pharmaceutical industry?

That we are here to tailor our approach to ensure successful project delivery. As we know every Project is different, we also know that every Client has bespoke requirements along with individual Project risks, issues and constraints. So the first conversation will be around ensuring that all the Stakeholders are on the same page, ideally by means of a Project Charter.

4. What are the potential challenges you have faced in CQV project management? How did you overcome the difficulties they presented?

Everything in terms of Project Management is a challenge because you are the one that people look to for direction and decision making.  

In more recent times, I have observed that people get frustrated when others don’t take accountability for their actions/tasks. The older I get, the more I realise that while the concept of RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted & Informed) is known, the understanding and implementation can vary.  

I have started to re-introduce such topics as RACI by explaining the basics of the topic to all Stakeholders with the caveat that “I know everyone understands the topic but…” The reality is that some will know the topic, some won’t know the topic but will be afraid to raise their hands and others assume they know. If we try and re-emphasise the basics, core building blocks, as we develop our team, the results are typically positive. Invariably, people are trying to do their best and if we strive to positively influence the majority, then our circle of control expands.

If we look at the “A” in RACI, the primary message is that there can only be one person “A”ccountable for a task or deliverable. There can be many Stakeholders “R”esponsible for supporting the delivery but only one person is “A”. Developing a RACI as part of our Project Execution Plan (P.E.P.) in conjunction with our Organisation Chart typically leads to discussions around who is accountable and responsible for various Project deliverables. Concerns raised during these sessions should be addressed to ensure optimal Stakeholder engagement as the Project evolves, rather than assuming that each Stakeholder understands who is doing what.

5. What type of CQV Project Management in the pharmaceutical industry do you have the greatest passion for?

I find the knowledge area of Scheduling very interesting as it allows you to fully understand how the project will be delivered and the interactions that need to be monitored as the project evolves. When a schedule is built correctly, starting with a work breakdown structure (WBS) through to using a Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) where we are concentrating on defining/developing the predecessor/successor logic, I typically use a visual forum like Klaxoon or similar to construct this visual representation. At this point, we are not concentrating on duration, resources or other constraints, just the logic. We can add notes against the current risks, issues or constraints which the scheduler can build into the schedule but this should not be the focus.

From a Stakeholder engagement perspective, a buy into this logic sequence can be more beneficial than expecting people to trawl through lines of P6 or Microsoft Project schedules. On some projects, I have printed this finished visual and put it on display to show that the team is aligned, which mitigates some of the ‘noise’ around schedule during the Planning phase of the project.

Learn more about our CQV services at No deviation.

If you have any questions regarding CQV Project Management in the pharmaceutical industry, please contact Morgan at or connect on LinkedIn.