Driving government transparency through Project Portfolio Management in the Cloud
With about 4,500 employees, Chesterfield County is the fourth largest locality in the state of Virginia, serving 316,000 citizens, and has been recognized with numerous awards, including Best of the Web and #1 Digital County in the nation. Most recently, the county was selected as one of the few counties nationwide to receive the 2012 Sunny Award recognizing transparency in government. The county received the award from Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit that evaluates more than 6,000 state and local government websites and grades each based on 10 criteria focused on openness. With a consolidated Information Systems Technology (IST) department and a project portfolio―including maintenance and new initiatives―of about 250 projects, the Chesterfield County IST department keeps very busy with managing all of the IT investments, projects, and services for the entire county.
Business Opportunity: Needed visibility into project statuses and resource capacity as well as a system for tracking project investments
Chesterfield County was and is held to a very high level of return on investment of every dollar spent. However, the county’s IST department didn’t have a proper and efficient system in place to determine how each IT dollar was spent on and what the return on each dollar was. Although defined processes were in place, the IST department lacked the transparency and visibility to make commitments and take on new projects.
- Investments, portfolios, and resources were managed and tracked in a series of spreadsheets, databases, Word documents, and via email.
- No clear way of determining which employees were working on which projects and how much time they were spending on each project, making it difficult to effectively manage resources, for demand and supply alignment.
- Projects were not easy to scope and not having critical information in a central location made it difficult to accurately report on project statuses.
Facing the above challenges and the pressure to be more transparent, the IST department first attempted to develop their own portfolio management system. After committing significant time and resources to building the system and having to deal with high maintenance costs, they realized that their time was better spent managing their strategic IT projects than developing a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution to house them.
Solution: Shifted the entire IT project portfolio management process into the Cloud
With an $11 million dollar IT budget and $8 to $9 million in active projects, the old system of spreadsheets, emails, and Word documents wasn’t cutting it for the level of tracking that was needed for project expenses, approvals, and statuses. After going down the spreadsheet path and attempting to build their own system, the county evaluated a handful of SaaS PPM solutions and ultimately selected Innotas for its robust cloud offering and ease of use as well its superior PPM capabilities and services, including:
- Sophisticated request management functionality giving the IT department the ability to set up a standardized process for reviewing and approving annual technology investments.
- Extensive reporting and dashboard capabilities for improved productivity and greater transparency with board and citizens.
- Flexible, phased implementation approach with dedicated, highly responsive engagement managers who provide ongoing support throughout the entire implementation cycle.
Results: Standardization of and visibility into the entire project portfolio management process
The cloud-based Innotas PPM solution has empowered the Chesterfield County’s IST team to document the status of every project, while driving project management standardization and enabling them to achieve full visibility and transparency into the entire project portfolio.
- Elimination of three databases, ten years worth of spreadsheets and Word documents, and various other systems which were intended to track information but were actually a hindrance.
- Increased productivity, especially at the management level because of the ability to track all aspects of each project quickly and easily using reports and dashboards.
- Estimated cost savings of $100,000 per year as a result of visibility into the portfolio and gaining efficiencies across the entire IT organization.
So far, the processes put into place and supported by the Innotas solution have empowered Chesterfield County’s IST organization to drive project management standardization and develop a solid understanding of the impact of a wide variety of resources on the project and the time and commitment levels of all resources.
As a next step, the county will expand its usage of the Innotas solution to tracking of small and maintenance projects as well as drive further transparency through extended use of dashboards and reporting.
“If we don’t do anything else with Innotas, in my opinion, it’s more than paid for itself just in the time that my staff has saved in tracking these projects and implementing our investment model.”
Chief Information Officer