Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

How Important is Project Team Communication in the Public Sector?

By Paul Bender, Director of Public Administration Strategy, Oracle Primavera

It goes without saying that communication between project team members is a core competency that connects every member of a project team to a common set of strategies, goals and actions. If these components are not effectively shared by project leads and understood by stakeholders, project outcomes can be jeopardized and budgets may incur unnecessary risk.Project and portfolio management best practices for federal agencies

As reported by PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession, an organization’s ability to meet project timelines, budgets and especially goals significantly impacts its ability to survive—and even thrive. The Pulse study revealed that the most crucial success factor in project management is effective communication to all stakeholders—a critical core competency for public agencies. PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession report revealed that US$135 million is at risk for every US$1 billion spent on a project. Further research on the importance of effective project team communication uncovers that a startling 56 percent (US$75 million of that US$135 million) is at risk due to ineffective communication. Simply stated: public agencies cannot execute strategic initiatives unless they can effectively communicate their strategic alignment and business benefits.

Executives and project managers around the world agree that poor communication between project team members contributes to project failure. A Forbes Insights 2010 Strategic Initiatives Study “Adapting Corporate Strategy to the Changing Economy,” found that nine out of ten CEOs believe that communication is critical to the success of their strategic initiatives, and nearly half of respondents cite communication as an integral and active component of their strategic planning and execution process. Project managers see it similarly from their side as well. According to PMI’s Pulse research, 55 percent of project managers agree that effective communication to all stakeholders is the most critical success factor in project management.

As we all know, not all projects succeed. On average, two in five projects do not meet their original goals and business intent, and one-half of those unsuccessful projects are related to ineffective communication. Results reveal that while all aspects of project communication can be challenging to public agencies, the biggest problem areas are:

  1. A gap in understanding the business benefits.
  2. Challenges surrounding the language used to deliver project-related information, which is often unclear and peppered with project management jargon.

Public agencies -- federal, state, and local -- have difficulty communicating with the appropriate levels with clarity and detail. This difficulty is likely exacerbated by the divide between each key audience and its understanding of project-specific, technical language. For those involved in public sector project and portfolio management, I would be interested to hear your thoughts and please visit Primavera EPPM solutions for public sector.

Monday Oct 28, 2013

The Rise of Project Intelligence and Why It Matters

By Amy DeWolf

Are you doing any of these in your organization? How are you leveraging historical data to forecast projects?

There’s a lot going on in government today. The economic pressures agencies feel from the uncertainty of budget cuts and sequestration effect every part of an organization, including the Project Management Office (PMOPMO Best practices).  The PMO is responsible for monitoring and administering government IT projects. As time goes on, priorities shift, technology advances, and new regulations are imposed, all of which make planning and executing projects more difficult.  For example, think about your own projects.  How many boxes do you need to check and hoops do you need to jump through to ensure you comply with new regulations? While new regulations and technology advancements can be a good thing, they add an additional layer of complexity to already complex projects.

To overcome some of these pressures, particularly new regulations, many in the PMO world are adopting a new approach- Project Intelligence (PI). According to a new Oracle Primavera white paper, The Rise of Project Intelligence: When Project Management is Just Not Enough“PI uses Business Intelligence methods to leverage historical project data to make more informed decisions and greatly enhance project execution.”

Currently, project managers plan and forecast the possible phases in an execution cycle.  However, most project managers don’t have the proper tools to do this as effectively as they would like. As the white paper noted, “The underlying deficiencies in most forecasting approaches are that 1) the PM fails in most instances to leverage historical data and 2) the PM doesn’t employ current Business Intelligence tools.” PI seeks to overturn this by combining modeling tools used in Business Intelligence for projects with the understanding of Emotional Intelligence for managing people.  

  • Simply put, Project Intelligence is built off four main pillars:
  • Actively use historical data to forecast project cycles
  • Understand the intricacies of complex projects
  • Enhance social and emotional intelligence in projects
  • Actively use Business intelligence tools

Read our complimentary whitepaper and discover the importance of emotional intelligence and best practices for improving projects, specifically in terms of communication.

Monday Sep 09, 2013

Why Government Agencies Need to Prove Value by Producing Incremental Value

For years, government agencies have undertaken ambitious, multi-year projects often without a step-by-step project plan or documented ROI. This inevitably led to waste, a frustrated Congress, and a confused public. Now, government agencies must show their programs will achieve value from the very first stage of development.

By shelving expensive, multi-year IT programs for smaller projects that can show incremental value, agencies can prove to Congress real ROI. This makes it more likely that the agencies will receive continued funding and the projects can continue. Another benefit is that by breaking large projects into smaller ones, agencies can ensure that each phase works properly and will deliver the expected ROI before advancing to the next phase. If progress is not delivered, that project can be canceled or put on hold, without much lost. As Tom Davis, Director of Federal Government Affairs for Deloitte & Touche LLP notes, "significant amounts of government funding have gone to waste due to agencies trying to tackle too much at once." While this thinking is not necessarily new, the current fiscal environment has convinced many that "agile" is the right approach to successful programs. 

"Flat is the new up" may not be an ideal situation, but it is the one government agencies have come to know. To adjust, they will need to become more innovative in the way they extract efficiencies and cost savings out of their operations. Moreover, they will need to prove, every step of the way, that their programs are valuable. In a time of constrained budgets, failing to do so may result in reduced funding.    

Oracle's Primavera provides enterprise investment management technology that allows government agencies to propose, plan, and control investments that present the greatest value to both the agencies and the public they serve. With Primavera enterprise project portfolio management solutions, national and local governments can effectively manage time, costs, resources, contracts, and changes to all types of projects or programs—including management of IT investments, grants, military systems, capital facility projects, maintenance and improvement programs, and more. Learn more here

Thursday Aug 22, 2013

Why Government Agencies Need to Prove Value by Doing More with Less: The Role of Innovation

How many times have we heard the phrase, "government agencies need to do more with less?" Although over-used, it remains true, especially in today's environment. Facing a bleak future of flat or reduced funding, agencies need to find new ways to increase efficiencies and reduce costs from their current budgets. To do this, agencies will need to get creative in their thinking and be comfortable making the tough decisions of which projects to cut and which to save. An example of an agency already doing this is NASA. Riding the ups and downs of the fiscal uncertainty rollercoaster and experiencing multiple cuts to popular programs, NASA is still "trying to ensure that the agency can maintain the health of its mission, which includes developing multi-generational rocket programmes." Internally, this requires new thinking, collaboration, and most importantly, innovation from all levels of the agency. NASA has implemented traditional cost saving measures including standardizing spending on travel and reducing the number of conferences employees can attend. In addition, the review process of projects has drastically changed and they no longer say, "yes" to projects they can't realistically pay for. Priorities are reviewed every budget cycle, officials go through a review process to see what programs can be trimmed, and programs are reviewed at key points in their cycle to ensure they are on target and will deliver a positive ROI. Although many of these changes sound small, they can add up to big cost savings in the end.

In a new Economist Intelligence Unit research report, Proving value in an age of austerity: A new normal for US government programmes, they discuss three steps federal agencies need to accomplish to prove value and accommodate this new environment – demonstrating value, doing more with less and producing incremental value.

Read the full Economist Intelligence Unit research report here, to learn more.

Thursday Aug 15, 2013

Why Government Agencies Need to Prove Value by Demonstrating Value

By: Amy DeWolf

In a new Economist Intelligence Unit research report, Proving value in an age of austerity: A new normal for US government programmes, they discuss three steps federal  agencies need to accomplish to prove value and accommodate this new environment, one step being – Demonstrating value.

Demonstrating value is essential to keeping your budget. As the report suggests, the days of Congress approving large, multi-year programs on the promise of ROI are long gone. According to Chris Mihm, Managing Director for Strategic Issues, GAO, "agencies will have to be more able and willing to identify the savings and productivity improvements they produce with a specific investment." To do this, he urges agencies to not over-promise potential savings or exaggerate improvements seen from a project. By reporting on the real data, documenting actual productivity, and presenting the performance improvements that tell “the proper story,” agencies will be able to show tangible improvements to Congress, and most likely maintain their current level of funding. 

Demonstrating value may not be as easy it sounds. As Jon Desenberg, Senior Policy Director for The Performance Institute notes, "demonstrating return on investment requires more than sending reaps of spreadsheets and numbers to Congress." Much like an employee would approach his boss for a promotion, agencies will need to prove value in numbers, show improvement over time, and articulate their ROI clearly and accurately. It may take more preparation than in years past, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Read the full Economist Intelligence Unit research report here.

Tuesday Aug 06, 2013

Why Government Agencies Need to Prove Value

By: Amy DeWolf

From the fiscal cliff to the current sequester, government agencies are operating in a period of fiscal uncertainly. At best agencies will have flat year-on-year budgets, barely keeping up with the rate of inflation. At worst agencies will face deep budget cuts. While many agencies are already reducing waste, cutting back on training, and increasing efficiencies, this new environment of constrained budgets and stricter congressional oversight will require agencies to provide real proof of ROI.

In a new Economist Intelligence Unit research report, Proving value in an age of austerity: A new normal for US government programmes, they discuss three steps federal  agencies need to accomplish to prove value and accommodate this new environment:

  • Demonstrating Value
  • Doing more with Less
  • Producing Incremental Value

Read the full article here

Sunday Jan 22, 2012

Intelligent project selection in the Federal government

According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans believe that the government cannot run program efficiently and without waste.

The Economist Intelligence Unit issued a report sponsored by Oracle titled "Creating value in the public sector: Intelligent project selection in the federal government". The report explores how some agencies are taking a portfolio-based approach to improve program performance.

Programs can be run more efficiently when agency leaders and managers improve their program management practices. A solid portfolio management solution enables them to:

  • have a holistic view of all the projects to see if and where new projects will fit.
  • identify the right projects.
  • balance the project portfolios
  • select and manage resources
  • constantly adjust programs to account for changes in strategy and demands.

Read the full EIU report to find out how.

Sunday Jan 15, 2012

Chicago Public Schools Increases Project Productivity, Saves Millions with Oracle Solutions

Chicago Public Schools significantly improved project management processes, project tracking, and the oversight of a US$600 million capital improvement program with the help of Oracle's Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management and related Oracle applications

[Read More]
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