A couple of weeks ago, a Fed approached me on how she should approach the challenge of streamlining an integrated program management support function across multiple divisions of one overarching government organization, which has over 100 projects ranging from $250k to $1B in life-cycle costs. My answer, based on my own experience:
To effectively deliver integrated program management services to such a large portfolio, spanning multiple divisions, I recommended implementing a 5-point strategy:
1. Productize and deliver services. Think about who your customers are, and catalog and define the services that your team offers — e.g., project schedule development, risk management planning, executive status reporting, acquisition market research, program plan tailoring, governance tracking. To facilitate this service-based approach, implement a service request system in SharePoint, for example, so that “customers” can submit service requests that the team then fulfills (according to specification) relative to competing priorities.
2. Define and understand priorities. Unless you possess an unlimited budget, it is sometimes not possible to service every request concurrently. It is therefore critical to define the relative priority and investment level of each program and project in the portfolio. Doing so provides the strategic context with which to prioritize service requests. To this end, design and coordinate the re-structuring of your CIO organization’s IT investments using a multi-tiered portfolio and program structure. Then develop a system and quantitative-based method for prioritizing the CIO’s entire portfolio as part of the annual strategic planning and budgeting process.
3. Create a brand. A critical element in the success of any integrated program management services function is to build awareness throughout the organization of the services that you offer along with the benefits. You want the organization to engage your services not out of obligation but because you truly deliver value. You must sell your services — and then exceed customer expectations. To market your team, develop, deliver and communicate several presentation packages and “sell sheets” throughout the organization.
4. Transfer knowledge. Integrated program management services centers should not merely be a place for the organization to “outsource” its work. They need to be equipped with highly experienced SMEs who can train and coach key program and project personnel on best practices, enterprise requirements, and organizational policies and standards. To this end, SMEs with deep Federal Government experience and domain expertise should be staffed on the team; establish training programs; and propagate a culture of “coaching.”
5. Standardize. Standardization of processes, documents, and tools are critical to the successful execution of programs and projects. These standard products must be communicated and accessible throughout the organization.