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The Art of Project Governance (Part 2)

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Challenges with Enterprise Governance

Governing hundreds of projects executed by 120 different state agencies has its challenges. To better understand the challenges faced by Fruman’s team in governing projects, let’s examine the following two areas:

A. Fruman’s philosophy on governance, how each agency manages projects, and previous attempts at implementing project management systems

B. Major governance challenges faced by the Enterprise Governance and Planning (EGAP) team

A. Fruman’s philosophy on Governance, how each agency manages projects, and previous attempts at implementing project management systems

Fruman’s governance philosophy is based upon his project management and IT experience. “I believe people want to do the right thing, but sometimes need guidelines, training, and oversight to help them improve their skills, reduce project risk, and ensure a successful project outcome.”

There is no enterprise project management tool used by the state agencies. Each agency is responsible for project execution and can chose the project management tool to use.  Most use Microsoft Project and/or the tools provided by the vendor performing the project implementation work.

Fruman’s team tried on two previous occasions to implement an enterprise project management tool for use by all the state agencies. Unfortunately, these implementations failed.  Fruman believes “These robust tools are great, they capture a lot of information, but at the end of the day you are a slave to the tool. They are so rigorous, you spend a lot of time making the tool work, as opposed to making it work for managing the portfolio of projects. “So to summarize, the three main reasons for the failed implementations were:

  • Tools were too complex
  • Required a lot of training
  • Needed a lot of effort to maintain

B. Major  governance challenges faced by the Enterprise Governance and Planning (EGAP) team

The process for collecting and analyzing project data is critical for the EGAP team in effectively performing their governance role. There are three major barriers for any organization to overcome in performing this process:

  • Make sure you are collecting the right data
  • Minimize data gathering time
  • Make sure you properly analyze the data

The EGAP team incurred a lot of time gathering data and wasn’t capturing the right data to apply proper governance. As a result, there were many challenges that Teresa Reilly’s team experienced in performing governance for the state agency projects. The six major challenges prior to the implementation of the CAI ITBuzz Management Suite are summarized below.

1. Gathering project data from agency project managers is cumbersome and preparing monthly dashboard reports using excel is time consuming

  • Every month project manager complete a manually generated Excel spreadsheet, with numerous tabs, which provides status for each project indicator (schedule, budget, business objectives, risk, issues, organizational readiness, etc.) as well as project financials.
  • The collection of data from project managers and consolidated in a presentation package requires about 80 person hours of effort.
  •  Qualitative data, in the form or comments, provided by the project manager, represent the Program Manager’s view of the project.
  •  The project data is imported into a GTA spreadsheet that drives green, yellow, or red status.
  • The GTA spreadsheets are consolidated into an overall document which is used by each Critical Panel Review (CPR) panel member during the monthly CPR reviews.

2. Project data is prepared by the project manager and doesn’t represent input from key stakeholders

  • Data is provided by each project manager and represents best efforts as to project status. However, it is only the view of the project manager. Lack of input from key stakeholders masks potential issues and increases potential for project risk.

3. Access to data is limited -It’s a push, not a pull, limiting access to only to those involved in preparing and reviewing the monthly data. It is not shared across the agencies to foster learning and continuous improvement

  • Data is captured in excel spreadsheets and therefore is static. It’s also not available to everyone. Data is pushed to users rather than pulled from a web based application.

4. Lack of predictive project behavior limits risk assessment to current and past project activities

  • A picture only portrays current activity when capturing quantitative data. Projects behave in mysterious ways. A green project can turn into a red project overnight. We’ve all experienced this.
  • The ability to use current and historical data to predict project risk greatly improves the governance capability and more importantly helps project managers improve their skills in project management through developing risk mitigation strategies.

5. Lack of an adequate Issue Management capability prevents proper mitigation of project risk

  • Current system is cumbersome to use in capturing project issues
  • Lack of ability to easily record and assign tasks to mitigate issues increases project risk

6. Project requests from Agencies do not capture pertinent data to rationalize investments decisions

  • The current process for capturing project request data is manual and doesn’t provide adequate information to assess risk, business alignment, and an overall opportunity
  • Lack of business case and associated data didn’t allow for proper analysis and comparison of multiple projects

Selecting the Winning  Solution

With two failed implementations, Fruman and his team were determined to find a solution that would work for the state of Georgia. Fruman decided to “keep it simple.”  The team identified the following major requirement for the portfolio governance solution:

  • Web enabled solution which is easy to us.
  • Automated capture of data from the various state agency project management systems used to manage projects
  • Capture hard data from Project Manager as well as soft data from key stakeholders to provide 360 degree view of the project

Fruman’s team initiated an RFP which was responded to by a number of different solution providers. Each selected vendor presented a demonstration of their software. When Fruman saw the demo of the CAI ITBuzz Management Suite “the light bulb went off. This is exactly what we need to provide adequate project assurance and governance for the state agency projects.”

<- Back to  Part 1 | Continue to Part 3 ->

 

Phil Weinzimer is president of Strategere Consulting and works with clients to develop business and IT strategies that achieve business outcomes. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Strategic CIO; Changing the Dynamics of the Business Enterprise, to be published by Taylor and Francis.  His previous book, Getting It Right; Creating Customer Value for Market Leadership focused on transforming organizations to become customer focused. Contact him at pweinzimer@strategere.com

About Phil Weinzimer

Author and president of Strategere Consulting working with clients to develop business and IT strategies that focus on achieving business outcomes.

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