Improving Project Portfolio Management for 3,000 Employees with 200 Different Apps

This post is published on GovLoop in partnership with TeamDynamix

The Interagency Information Technologies Division for Maryland’s Frederick County was managing projects for 18 divisions with a mix of spreadsheets and a SharePoint environment. But this was a time-consuming process that made it hard to plan effectively around resource capacity. Moving to the TeamDynamix platform has solved these problems and increased the efficiency of IIT staff.

Rick Little, the manager of Application Services for the Interagency Information Technologies Division of the Frederick County, Maryland, government, writes this blog post on behalf of TeamDynamix:

As the software integrators for the Frederick County, Maryland, government, the Application Services team within the county’s IIT Division acquires, develops, rolls out, supports, and maintains software for all 18 divisions within the county government. In effect, we’re supporting 18 different businesses with mission-critical applications such as financial systems and 911 emergency dispatch systems. Failure is not an option for our department.

We have more than 3,000 government employees under our domain, and together they use about 200 total applications. As you can imagine, we serve many different user needs. When users come to us with a change request or a capability they need filled, we’ll look to see if we have any software currently running within our enterprise that might solve their needs. If not, then we’ll help them find, procure, and implement a commercial solution—or we’ll develop our own homegrown software.

While our 16-person department has been able to meet the county’s software needs, we did not have an efficient way to manage our projects. We were using Microsoft SharePoint to keep track of the status of projects, and we were tracking the hours that staff were spending on projects within multiple spreadsheets. Updating each of these systems was an awkward and time-consuming manual process, because the tools didn’t communicate well with each other in real time—and therefore we didn’t have very good visibility into the availability of resources at any given point in time.

Not knowing instantly who was working on what project and how many hours they were committed to made it very difficult to schedule projects and allocate resources nimbly and effectively. If we wanted to know who might be available to take on a new project, we had to comb through various spreadsheets and calculate the number of hours that staff had available. As a result, our department was not as efficient as it could be. We were spending too much time on administrative tasks, we had a hard time adjusting on the fly when new issues would arise, and we ran the risk of overworking and burning out our staff.

Recognizing that we needed a better approach to resource capacity planning, we looked for a project management solution that would allow us to be more efficient. We found the answer we were looking for in the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) platform from TeamDynamix, which allows us to manage multiple projects and resources throughout the entire project lifecycle with a single, easy-to-use tool.

Having a single view of all projects and the resources that are allocated to them makes it much easier to do resource capacity planning. We can now schedule projects and allocate resources much more effectively. Although we’re still loading our current projects into the system, we are approaching the stage where we’ll be using the tool on a daily basis to make better decisions about which staff members should be assigned to the next project, or when projects should be scheduled if they don’t require immediate action. This will allow us to balance the workload among our employees more effectively.

We also expect the platform will make us more efficient. Instead of wasting valuable time calculating staff availability, for instance, we can simply run a report to seewho has time to take on new projects. And whereas I used to have to update multiple SharePoint pages to usher change requests through the review and approval process manually, now much of this work will be automated. Currently, we have about 40 open change requests that I’m managing, and I was spending at least three hours a week on this process. An automated solution will reduce this from hours to minutes.

Once we have the PPM capabilities fully up and running, our next step will be to implement the IT Service Management capabilities of the TeamDynamix platform. This will allow us to use a single platform to manage both projects and service requests. Sometimes, service requests grow into full projects, and projects often kick off a series of smaller service requests. Being able to manage all of these tasks on a single platform will allow service requests to seamlessly grow into full projects that we can assign resources to easily.

Moving to a single, automated platform gives us better visibility into projects and resources. It improves our ability to plan and adjust, and it makes our department more efficient. As a result, we can serve our users more effectively—while being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.

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