A Tale of Two Launches

Tyson Bertmaring,  Thought Leader

Tyson Bertmaring, Thought Leader

Associate Director, Project Management - Global Drug Development, Merck & Co.


Cubist Pharmaceuticals was a company founded to address the threat of MRSA ravaging our hospitals, and grew to a multi-product acute care focused company prior to our acquisition by Merck & Co.

The Global Medical Affairs department at Cubist Pharmaceuticals was uniquely diverse: field liaisons, health economics, medical information, investigator research, scientific communications, and microbiology. We all collaborated to pull through Phase 3 clinical candidates as successful products. 

The Company was growing rapidly after two separate acquisitions; the fabric of our culture, and our ability to scale to meet the challenges in delivering lifesaving products to the acute care environment, demanded an innovative approach to product launch management.    


We had not attempted a product launch since CUBICIN®, over 10 years prior. Our institutional knowledge had diluted over the years, and meanwhile the global regulatory and market expectations for product launches had changed significantly. There was now an even greater need for collaboration and coordination to execute successful launches. Coupled with that we had to launch two separate antibiotic products in six months.


For our first new product, SIVEXTRO®, we used existing technologies to manage the launch: Microsoft Excel, SharePoint, Outlook, and PowerPoint. We experienced confusion which led to more meetings, lack of timely reporting which led to poor decisions, and lack of coordination which led to redundant deliverables. 

Lessons learnt during the SIVEXTRO® launch made us realize that we needed to do things differently for our upcoming ZERBAXA™ launch. We needed a way to manage product launches that mirrored the collaborative, innovative, and entrepreneurial spirit of our culture. 

A way to organize product launch strategy to enable distributed tactical decision making at the deliverable level. A way that moved meetings from updates to decision making, and a team of individuals to a team that operated as one. We needed to be enlightened.


We needed a capability which provided a true single collaborative project environment, which was simple to understand and intuitive to use.  As a result we ruled out everything out there, MS Project - Server and Online, Asana, Basecamp, SmartSheet, you name it.

Even though I believe Enlighten can be used for any project, in any industry, the icing on the cake was the fact that Enlighten was built specifically for supporting pharmaceutical product launches. And that, coupled with the no obligation pilot phase offer, made going with Enlighten practically a no brainer for us.


From Day 1 we had all the training and implementation support we could have asked for, and within the first week - our ZERBAXA™ project plan was migrated into Enlighten, our team was trained and truly accountable for their project scope. It doesn’t get easier than that!


We approached launches differently with the help of EightSpokes, while leveraging our greatest asset, our culture.  They consulted with us to establish a core personnel framework for product launches, trained us on how to use Enlighten, shared with us best practices for global launches, and stayed with us during the entire launch process. 

Accountability remained with the team leadership, but now we could clearly feel the effects of distributed responsibility for every critical launch deliverable.

Our post-launch lessons learned reviews clearly showed a difference between the SIVEXTRO® and ZERBAXA™ launches: timelines were met, risks identified before turning into issues, launch status was known in real-time by the entire team, the opportunity for clear decision making was not clouded by the confusion of what was going on, and most importantly the team had more fun!


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