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3 Activities to Get Your Agency in Tip-Top Shape for CPIC Season

GovLoop and Integrity Management Consulting are proud to present a 12-part series called "Conscientious Contracting: A Thoughtful Approach to Acquisition and Program Management," that aims to address common challenges and achieve new efficiencies in government procurement.

Summer is just around the corner and many people are thinking about getting in shape before they hit the beach.

Similarly, if you are in any way connected to your agency’s Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) activities, you know that now is the time to get ready for those summer months six to eight weeks from now when you’ll be in the heat of the rigorous annual CPIC submission process.

Recently, I interviewed Mike Ipsaro, Technical Director of Integrity Management Consulting, to learn more about the actions your agency can take now to be fiscally fit and fully prepared for the scrutiny of CPIC process. Here are three key core activities that will put your agency ahead of the curve when it comes to CPIC preparation:

1. Take a Closer Look at Your Integrated Product Team (IPT). It’s possible that your staffing has shifted in the last few months. Now is the time to survey the breadth and depth of your Integrated Product Team (IPT) and be realistic about the actions you need to take now with the team in order to be in tip-top shape for summer.

According to Ipsaro, “the more stacked the IPTs are with folks who are cross-trained and experienced in acquisition and program management and can leverage best practices, the better the chance of success in improving the business case.” For example, Ipsaro suggested that an agency performs most effectively if it has IPT members that:

“have certifications in program management and espouse and practice the principles of program management - like define requirements soundly, identify gaps and perform rigorous analysis to determine the preferred alternatives to close gaps, lay out the acquisition strategy based on solid requirements, and thorough market research of the latest innovations in technology, such as agile. Also, prepare risk-adjusted cost and schedule estimates to build in a healthy-dose of realism to minimize surprises downstream.”

Furthermore, agencies want IPT members that are “empowered to make decisions,” which bolsters enterprise accountability and speeds execution. Also, IPT members in the know and empowered helps your agency get beyond a check-box culture and fully leverage CPIC, and supporting artifacts, as a valuable management tool. Lastly, be sure to engage senior leaders now and throughout the process via “continuous communications so that all levels of the chain of command are kept abreast of the latest developments.”

2. Host a ‘CPIC Best Practices Boot Camp’. If you haven’t done so already, the best time to debrief on the previous year’s portfolio is right now. You don’t want to wait until summer to start understanding your successes and lessons learned from the previous season. Ipsaro suggested that agencies should schedule a kick-off session – perhaps you could call it a ‘CPIC Best Practices Boot Camp’ - that “lays out a preliminary schedule for the annual cycle, notes where you left off last year and lists some of the gaps that were identified.”

By doing so now, an agency can “give the investment or program managers a leg up before the process really formally kicks off in terms of where to focus their attention,” such as ensuring they have matured their risk management plans and procedures, including the risk register. In light of sequestration, this meeting is especially important as it enables your organization to “look across its vast suite of portfolios, business cases or capability sets, and identify opportunities for efficiency” in the year ahead.

3. Get Your Gear Ready. Lastly, Ipsaro recommends that agencies spend a little time “shoring up their supporting artifacts.” As we move forward, OMB and oversight entities “are going to look at the business cases, but they’re also interested in the supporting investment and project management information that the business case rests on. The more programs can update those supporting artifacts and, if applicable, move them through their internal oversight processes and obtain formal reviews and approvals, the better shape they’ll be in when they start the annual submission cycle.”

For more information and resources about CPIC and best practices pertaining to acquisition and program management, please check out the following resources:

This blog was brought to you by Integrity Management Consulting, an award-winning small business and leading provider of major systems acquisition and program management support services to Federal customers. Integrity’s mission is to deliver exceptional results for government customers, employees, and the community, driven by a single value: Integrity.

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