The Black Dog Institute

Putting mental health research into action via the Project Management Office

Health Services
  • PMO optimisation
  • Project / program management

The Black Dog Institute (BDI) is a global leader in mental health research and the only medical research institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan. BDI’s unique translational approach enables them to quickly turn scientific findings into clinical services, educational programs and e-health products. BDI joins the dots, connecting research answers, expert knowledge and the voices of lived experience to deliver solutions that work for patients and practitioners. Their mission is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone, through science, compassion and action. 

The challenge

The Black Dog Institute is going through rapid growth and needed to scale. In part, to do this, they needed to accelerate and improve the efficiency of managing their projects through to delivery and ensure alignment with their organisational strategy. 

Our response was to simplify the process for BDI through a phased approach.  This allowed clear articulation of the value we were providing aligned to their budgets and immediate use of tools and processes delivered at every gate. We were able to systematically define the organisation’s challenges and create collateral that would bring them to an efficient, mature, pragmatic, and regulated Project Management Office (PMO).

The approach


    We took time to ensure that BDI understood how to embed the process, enabling them to take their research through to delivering practical programs that work in the real world. 

    We listened first and carefully to ensure we understood BDIs needs, frustrations and the work that had already been done. Our findings were documented as prioritised Problem Statements that drove the future phases.



    We built a framework that was fit for purpose. One that could be applied to a wide range of projects from Research to IT (Information Technology). It included three delivery methods: Waterfall, Agile and Hybrid.


    Templates. We developed a range of project, program, and portfolio related templates that BDI were able to implement immediately, test and adjust.

    Governance. We documented a Project Management (PM) Handbook that included the mandatory processes to support governance gates and manage projects, programs, and portfolios.

    Consolidation. Analysis for a future PM Tool, learning and development roadmap for project professionals at all levels, training needs analysis and capability matrix for the PMO roles.

    Man and woman having a coffee holding hands for support

    The outcome

    The team at BDI can now build an infrastructure that allows them the greatest impact with the greatest efficiency. With Escient’s help the previously evolving and mismatched process has become streamlined, organised, and transparent. 

    The outcome of this PMO provided standard methodologies, an end-to-end Project management Framework, processes, governance, tools, and templates that has strengthened and sharpened the quality, timeliness, and cost effectiveness of each BDI project from inception to completion.  

    With Escient’s help BDI is well placed to ensure its world class projects are delivered through checks and balances, in a streamlined manner to deliver new services efficiently to end-users and the wider community, and truly focus on their purpose.  

    “Our PMO team has expressed that the quality of the documentation was fantastic and the content was fit for purpose. Escient made extra effort to produce materials on BDI brand and we are so happy with the outcomes of the project overall, which fully met the stated objectives of the brief. It’s been a pleasure working with the Escient team!”

    Karen Elliff, Director Funding and Partnerships

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