Purpose - The purpose of this report is to present the critical factors necessary for process improvement in pharmaceutical research. Design/methodology/approach - Cross-organizational process improvement projects, which can increase productivity as well as shorten cycle time in drug discovery, are used to determine the critical factors for success. A morphological analysis is conducted on these critical factors followed by KeyGraph visualization in a post-process improvement survey. Findings - Four scenarios, which are beneficial for process improvement, are explored through application of the KeyGraph. The critical factors identified are project scheduling, automation, resource management, and process improvement methodology. The project leaders also addressed critical factors, such as top management support, shared goals, and a data-driven approach. The step for improvement is in alignment with the typical quality improvement process in most process improvement initiatives. Originality/value - The identified critical factors for success provide a guide to process improvement during pharmaceutical research. In addition, the KeyGraph framework provides a practical approach to discovering the factors that contribute to success.
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