The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) is responsible for managing high-impact research that discovers, develops, and delivers healthcare solutions for Service Members, Veterans, and the American public. With over 30 research programs covering diverse diseases and conditions, and management responsibilities from administrative support to public affairs to program evaluation, CDMRP requires a wide range of technical expertise and functional skills for successful operations across the agency. Contracted in 2017, Ripple Effect had the challenge of establishing and maintaining a Program Administration and Technical Support Services (PATSS) team to support these diverse task areas, with evolving project needs and surge workloads, while providing CDMRP an optimal ROI.
Given the broad spectrum of interwoven task areas, our solution involved hiring staff with both a deep technical expertise in their primary study, and also cross-functional skillsets to support any project that might arise. Where other teams hit roadblocks because their staff can only support narrowly defined tasks, our staff thrive on the opportunity to use additional skillsets and get involved in new projects. We also adopted an engaged management approach, hosting monthly team-building events, facilitating connections with staff across task areas, and leading targeted professional development based on new project needs and cross-training sessions to ensure project back-ups and leverage lessons learned across projects. As a result of our methods, our team of Program Managers, Analysts, Evaluators, Public Relations, Data Managers, and Logisticians successfully support efforts across CDMRP’s full operations. For example, our whole PATSS team, not just our Program Evaluators, support our evaluation services. By having staff with cross-functional skills and a team-focus, we leverage the right expertise for the task and have multiple team members who can solve a problem.
Our hiring and management approach has facilitated critical collaboration at CDMRP amongst all stakeholders and resulted in government cost savings because our smaller team can meet full mission needs. Instead of having niche experts siloed in their functional areas, our cross-functional staff members take initiative and step up to surge workloads and adapt to changing needs, providing knowledgeable and flexible support to CDMRP.