Portfolio > 3b > 3. Project Management
Search this site

3. An effective organizer with skills in:
(b) Allocating resources

3b3 Project management, prioritizing, and aligning with institutional goals

Development Plan Portfolio Documentation
Develop practices and mechanisms that foster good project management, prioritizing, and alignment with institutional goals and the strategic plan. Document with examples the practices and mechanisms developed for improving project management and prioritizing in accordance with institutional goals and the strategic plan.

I have written here about my experiences at both Andrews University and at Sanitarium Health Food Company.

At Andrews University

In 1999, the demand for new IT projects so far outstripped our capacity to deliver that we knew we needed to get input from the whole enterprise to prioritize the projects in accordance with the strategic objectives of the institution.  We had identified fifteen "strategic information technologies", and presented brief summaries of each of them in a number of venues.  Following each presentation, we asked each person in attendance to vote on the five projects they felt were the most strategically important to the university. 

The groups where we did this voting were:

Although some people were members of two or more these groups, we counted each person's vote only once.  We also made presentations to the University Senate and the Deans' Council to be sure that no important projects were overlooked.

The fifteen projects that were identified and prioritized by a voting method were (alphabetically):

  1. Customer Relationship Management
  2. Data Warehousing
  3. Disaster Recovery Planning
  4. E-commerce
  5. Emergency 911
  6. GroupWare & “white collar productivity”
  7. Helpdesk
  8. Imaging & Workflow in Banner
  9. Instructional Technology
  10. Integrating Voice & Data
  11. Intranet
  12. Mass Storage
  13. One Card Integration
  14. Streaming Audio/Video
  15. Time & Attendance

From this list of fifteen strategic technology projects, when we amalgamated the votes from the different groups (counting only one vote per person), the following five projects received the most votes:

2.  Data Warehousing
8.  Imaging & Workflow in Banner
1.  Customer Relationship Management
4.  E-commerce
9.  Instructional Technology

In addition, the Cabinet chose three other projects for inclusion:

3.  Disaster Recovery Planning
5.  Emergency 911
15.  Time & Attendance

The number of votes received by each project is reported in Voting on the Strategic IT Projects.  This prioritization process fed directly into the budgeting and tracking process.  Because the Cabinet had been involved in setting the priorities, the projects had good executive support, and I was able to use my position on the Cabinet as CIO to make progress reports.  See the report I presented on April 10, 2000.  The work done in researching and prioritizing projects in 1999 continued to reap benefits in following years.  It formed an integral part of my presentation to the Budget Committee for the 2000/2001 budget process.

At Sanitarium

When I joined Sanitarium Health Food Company in December, 2002, I was taken through an extensive and very valuable orientation program, part of which included meetings with executive, senior and middle management at head office as well as site visits to the state branch offices.  Sanitarium had implemented the core functions of the SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system about 4 years earlier, and demand was building to extend the use of information technology to the next 'layer' of the business, going beyond core functions.  As I reported back to my IT managers about the meetings I was having, they had mixed reactions.
  1. They were pleased to hear that the business was beginning to see IT in terms of adding value to the business;
  2. they were somewhat overwhelmed at the workload all the projects I was hearing about would represent;
  3. they were alarmed at the apparent lack of appreciation for the value of using features already available in SAP rather than buying additional third party software, with the associated integration problems.

On May 16, 2003, I summarized the potential IT Projects / Initiatives / Technologies that I had received requests for during my meetings with various business leaders.  Anyone who saw the list agreed that it represented at least three years of work, so one thing it brought into focus for us was the need to have a process for prioritizing IT project requests in accordance with corporate strategic goals.  This would address reaction number 2 above.  I began working on an IT Portfolio, which will have a 3 to 5 year horizon, and will give visibility to all the business leaders for all the IT projects being considered by the business.

I found that there was excellent executive support for maximizing the value of the very significant investment the company had already made in purchasing SAP, and this led me to propose an Enterprise Architecture policy statement that in effect requires SAP solutions to be considered before any alternatives can be investigated.  This address reaction number 3 above.

On June 10, 2003, I met with the Executive Management Group (EMG) and presented my emerging IT Strategy for Sanitarium, in which I covered the following five points.

  1. Align with corporate strategy
  2. Adopt an Enterprise Information Architecture
  3. Adopt a formal process for approving IT projects
  4. Develop a portfolio of current and planned IT investments
  5. Identify key IT initiatives and prioritize them

I used PowerPoint animation to highlight the large gap between an ideal value chain and the fragmented Sanitarium information chain (see the .pdf handout - 1.68MB).  The EMG unanimously approved my proposed Enterprise Information Architecture statement:

Enterprise Information Architecture
Because of the company’s investment in SAP, and in the interests of achieving transparent end-to-end visibility for the correlation and analysis of all processes, Sanitarium has adopted SAP as its Enterprise Architecture. This means that new projects will start with an examination of the solution provided through SAP. If the solution falls short on goodness-of-fit criteria, then build-or-buy alternatives will be considered only if they conform to the SAP information architecture. Approval for research into non-SAP solutions requires an action of the IT Steering Committee.

I also presented a process flowchart for approving IT projects, and this was approved, although I was asked to produce a simplified chart for the purposes of announcing the new policies to the company.  The Enterprise Architecture statement and the IT Project Approval process were announced to the direct reports of the company's General Managers on June 23, 2003.

At this point in time, we are working on a draft Information Technology Portfolio and a revised IT Strategic Plan.

During the past several weeks, I have received promotional material about four different IT Leadership Conferences.

# Days
Event Convener
The Complete CIO IDG
5th Annual IT Directors' Summit Marcus Evans
Strategy Implementation AGSM
Gartner Symposium ITxpo Gartner

When I summarized some of the highlights that appealed to me from each of the sessions, I was very interested to notice that some of the very same issues we had just been coming to grips with in IT at Sanitarium were featured topics at one or more of these conferences.

The Complete CIO - IDG

  • Topics in the morning and afternoon keynote addresses
  • The book - "Achieving Business Value from Technology"
  • Networking with other IT directors

5th Annual Australian IT Director's Summit 2003 - Marcus Evans

  • Opening Keynote Presentation
    CIO : Career Is Out There - The Future of IT Leadership
    • Sharing the binoculars - Engaging leadership in IT Vision & Strategy.
    • Whose decision is that?  IT in governance with the C-Suite.
    • Sponsors, Owners or Custodians? Realistic business leadership getting value from IT.
    • A Victim of your Success?  Managing IT Demand and effective Priority Setting, Workload.
    • ...
  • Managing your IT portfolio
  • IT Governance
  • Networking with other IT directors
  • One-to-one meetings with solution providers (8 - 10 meetings)

Strategy Implementation - Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM)

  • This all connects well with our IT strategic planning process
  • Topics:
    • Strategy , process, implementation
    • Analysis of user perception, organizational structure and culture
    • Strategy scenario development
    • Technology portfolio choice tools
    • Communication strategy

Gartner Symposium ITxpo

  • Keynote - BPF - Business Process Fusion - end-to-end integration
  • Networking with other IT directors
  • 11-Nov - The Gartner Enterprise Architecture (EA) Framework
  • 12-Nov - Designing IT Governance for Enterprise Strategy
  • 12-Nov - Demonstrating the Business Value of IT
  • 13-Nov - The Payoff from Strategic Planning and Project Prioritisation
  • 14-Nov - Panel Debate: Will IT Power Future Economic Growth and does IT Matter?

Peter Weill and Richard Woodham (2002) published a working paper at the Sloan Institute for Information Systems Research at MIT called, "Don't Just Lead, Govern: Implementing Effective IT Governance".

"Firms achieving above industry average returns from IT investments must be making consistently better IT-related decisions. Effective IT governance is one of the ways these firms achieve superior returns. Many firms are creating IT governance structures that encourage the behavior leading to achieving the firm's business performance goals. We define IT governance as specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT. Effective IT governance requires careful analysis about who makes decisions and how decisions are made in at least four critical domains of IT: principles, infrastructure, architecture, and investment and prioritization." [1]

Susan Cramm (2003) referred to this article in "A Cry for Full-Cycle Governance" in the August 1 issue of CIO Magazine.  While committee structures for approval and prioritization are important, Cramm says that "at many companies, governance should be called 'govern-once'" ... in reality what passes for governance is often a one-dimensional, checklist-based and attendance-based effort focused solely on project prioritization and approval."  "Using a parenting analogy, full-cycle governance forces business leaders to raise the project as one of their own rather than send it to the IT boarding school." [2]   It is more than just choosing the right projects and working out who is responsible.  When John Thorp writes about full-cycle governance in The Information Paradox, he says CIOs must ask themselves  four "ares":

  1. Are we doing the right things?
  2. Are we doing them the right way?
  3. Are we getting them done well?
  4. Are we getting the benefits? [3]

[1] Weill, Peter and Woodham, Richard. (April 2002). Don't just lead, govern: Implementing effective IT governance [Web]. MIT Sloan. (EN-0879)
Retrieved 18-Jun-2004
URL: http://web.mit.edu/cisr/www/html/wp326.html

[2] Cramm, Susan H. (2003). A Cry for Full-Cycle Governance. CIO, August 1, 2003. (EN-0880)
Retrieved 18-Jun-2004
URL: http://www.cio.com/leadership/edit/la041503_governance.html

[3] Thorp, John. (1998). The Information Paradox. (EN-0645)
McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 0-07-134265-6

Return to 3(b) Allocating resources

Created: Sunday, August 16, 2003 06:33 PM 
Last Modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 9:09 PM