Implementation and Value of the CAI ITBuzz Management Suite
CAI was awarded a contract in March 2012 and implementation of the ITBuzz Management Suite commenced in July 2012. It’s common to use an acronym to name a vendor software solution, and the state of Georgia is no exception. The acronym chosen was Enterprise Management Suite (GEMS)
Hank Oelze, Program Manager-Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO), working with CAI consultants, was responsible for the implementation of the GEMS solution. In May, subsequent to the award, Oelze and colleagues prepared a presentation for the state Project & Portfolio Management Conference for state agency personnel. The meeting was part of the communication plan to orient the project managers of the new governance process. The goal was to set expectations and help the teams understand the value the new process would provide to the state agencies, GTA, Georgia citizens, and, most importantly, the project managers. Included in the presentation was the following slide that identified the reasons why a new tool was required.
The implementation began in July 2012. During any implementation there are always concerns about the vendor relationship, training, and implementation consulting. Following is a summary of the experience working with CAI on these three key areas.
One major concern of organizations contracting with a solution vendor is the working relationship. Theresa Reilly said “CAI has been a great vendor and easy to work with. They bend over backwards to help us.”
During the implementation CAI prepared training videos that GTA used during the training. Reilly said that after an initial training session with the core implementation team, “we took
over the training using our experienced project management personnel and videos.”
The skill and experience of implementation consultants is always a concern. “The CAI implementation team was experienced and easy to work with,” says Reilly.
Value of CAI ITBuzz Management Suite
The value derived by the State of Georgia from implementing the CAI ITBuzz Management Suite provided value for the State of Georgia in the following seven ways.
At the end of this section I have compiled a set of 10 capabilities every governance tool should have. These should be helpful to those of you looking for a governance tool for your organization.
1. Overall Value
The value of the CAI solution provides the State of Georgia with strategic and operational value for managing the portfolio of projects executed by state agency personnel. Hank Oelze, program manager at EPMO, describes the overall value as follows:
- The monthly update process is easier than the previous Excel-based scorecard
- Projects can be evaluated through the proposal stage
- Projects are evaluated from several project roles versus just the project manager
- Dashboard KPI dials are driven by qualitative and quantitative data
- Issue tracking automates the reporting, resolving, and closing of Issues
- The tool greatly enhances communication since the PM receives and assesses input from several roles
- Stage Gate questionnaires enhance process compliance
2. Data Gathering of Project Data for Governance Analysis
One of the major challenges faced by Reilly’s team was the time to capture data, prepare project dashboards, and properly display project status. The CAI solution overcame those challenges. For example, the 80 person-hour manual process of collecting project data from the project managers and consolidating into a presentation package for the Critical Panel Review now takes only about 4 hours of effort.
3. Project Dashboards
The project dashboard (see below) provides visual representation of the quantitative and qualitative data that drives the key project indicators gauges to reflect ranges within red, yellow, or green; a benefit they never had before. “visually displaying the range within each key indicator helps the project managers and Critical Review Panel interpret the degree of risk more effectively than the previous process,”says Reilly.
5. Predictive Analysis
The CAI solution uses a set of algorithms based upon completed assessments to predict the potential risk of the project for each key project indicator. This single capability makes the solution a proactive process of anticipating risk, and taking mitigating actions prior to the risks occurring.
6. Improving Project Manager Skills
Governance is more than just oversight. It should involve improving the skills and capabilities of project managers. People truly learn from experience. The assessment questionnaires, which focus on risk categories, are completed by key project stakeholders, providing a 360 degree view of the project. Over time project managers intuitively behave in a manner which addresses these potential risk areas in a proactive way.
7. Quantitatively Analyzing Project Requests
One of the major benefits is the process of reviewing and analyzing the business value for project requests. An Enterprise Pipeline Report for requested projects was manually prepared using excel spreadsheets and very time consuming (see example below):
The CAI solution automated the process to prepare. Now the CAI solution provides dashboard data for these requested projects, and provides an analysis grid to display the business alignment and risk score for the portfolio of requested projects.
Governance Tool Capabilities
There are many Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions on the market. Most require lengthy implementations and training, and sometimes are overkill for what a PMO organization is trying to accomplish. The CAI solution chosen by the state of Georgia hit their sweet spot of need. Easy to implement and use, regardless of the project management tools used by the state agencies.
So, if your organization is looking at project governance solutions, make sure they have, at a minimum, the following ten critical capabilities needed to minimize project risk:
1. Provide governance for the portfolio of projects regardless of the project management tools used by the state agencies
- Each agency selects the tool they use for managing projects. To maintain the federated model used in the state, the GTA needed to find a tool which would easily provide governance for the state agency projects by easily capturing, analyzing, and displaying data in a dashboard.
2. A solution that isn’t overkill for the governance team and agency project management personnel.
- Initial implementation accomplished in approximately 30 days with configuration occurring in the following 30-60 days.
- Solution is intuitive and easy to use.
- Training is not complicated and can be accomplished by company personnel.
3. Web based solution that provides data to anyone, anywhere, and at any time.
- Ability to access project and governance data by all personnel from any desktop at any time and from anywhere.
4. Captures qualitative data from key stakeholders to provide 360 degree project perspective.
- Ability to capture quantitative data from project management tool supplemented with capture of soft data from key stakeholders provides a more realistic view of the project and potential risks.
5. Easily import project data into the governance solution.
- Automated data import from state agency project management tools would eliminate manual and cumbersome effort.
6. Provides effective Issue Management Capability.
- Capture issues in automated environment, assign issues to owners, and provide issue status updates for all stakeholders to review.
7. Identifies key risk indicators and provide predictive risk scores based upon quantitative and qualitative data.
- Provide summary metric for key project indicators.
- Provide the predictive metric regarding future risk based upon quantitative and qualitative data.
8. Improves project manager’s skills through self-learning and 360 degree feedback.
- Project assessments which measure the key project indicators through a set of questions with a set of answer choices to provide insight to the project managers and implementation teams of the potential areas of risk.
- Over time these assessment questions become intuitive and part of the daily activities performed by project managers in the execution of projects.
- Provide the predictive metric regarding future risk based upon quantitative and qualitative data.
9. Displays dashboard metrics of key project indicators and automated reporting.
- Display key project indicators in dashboard.
- Provide for qualitative comments for each key indicator.
- Provide for flexible reporting on key project data.
10. Captures key data for project requests and analyze data based upon business need and potential risk.
- Easily capture project request data in automated environment to properly analyze investment opportunity for risk and value.
The Georgia state agencies are reaping the benefits of the CAI ITBuzz Management Suite (known as GEMS within the state agencies). Now, project data is imported into GEMS and dashboard data as well as detail information is available for all to view in real time. Analysis of key project indicators is available to the Critical Panel for review of all the complex and critical projects. Most importantly, the solution uses algorithms to predict the degree of potential risk for each key indicator. This feature makes the solution a more proactive versus reactive solution.
The GEMS project dashboard provides visual representation of the quantitative and qualitative data to drive the key project indicators gauges to reflect ranges within red, yellow, or green; a benefit they never had before. Knowing the range within each color helps the project managers and Critical Review Panel interpret the degree of risk more effectively than the previous process.
With an average of 200-450 million dollars of projects to govern each year the state can now look at ways to improve project success. They now have a solution that can minimize risk, improve governance, and improve project success
So, if your organization is experiencing project assurance and portfolio governance challenges, and is not willing to accept a 25-35% project failure rate as an acceptable norm, heed the lessons learned from the State of Georgia Technology Authority. Learn how they applied a solution to minimize risk, improve project management skills, achieve project success, and most importantly provide value to the citizens of the state.
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; published by John Wiley, focused on transforming organizations to become customer focused. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org