Oct 21, 2011

California Government IT Moves Beyond Dreamin' to Measurable Performance

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Interviewing the California Technology Agency's voluble and diverse team over the phone is something of a challenge, especially when  they get excited. And they are justifiably excited about the Agency's recent honor as finalist in the PMO of the Year Award competition. Judges cited the state agency for excellence in creating a streamlined, centralized center for project and program oversight while saving taxpayer funds and increasing transparency. The team (shown below, left to right: Jack Gibbons, Deputy Director Russ Guarna, Chinyere Emodi, LaTrenda Easton and Scott Davidson) shared some insights about their journey with us last week.   

Q. What should organizations seeking to implement or improve project management processes keep in mind, in terms of pitfalls or challenges?

Russ Guarna:  The first thing is standards. You need a framework to build from. You need structure, a way to be uniform in how you collect information. When you collect data, you then have to understand how it all fits together. We got buried with questions the minute people realized there was a central point for projects ... then we had to build our understanding of our portfolio. For a while, we scrambled to answer questions ... we called it the "drill of the day." Now, going forward, we can create portfolio data reports that are useful.

Jack Gibbons: Recognize that it's a journey! There's a tendency to jump into things you don't yet have the capactiy to do. It's going to take you a while and you must figure out a way to show value all along the way. It's no different in the private sector: "Value drives transformation." to quote Tom Peters in a recent post on this blog.

Chinyere Emodi: We kept the end goal in mind.

Scott Davidson: That's right. You have to define your purpose. What type of PMO will you be? Will you loan out project managers, or just set standards and policy? Will you have a governance role? From the start, you are setting expectations for the organization. Your value has to be more than just telling people what they are doing wrong. It's important to know you have a common goal.

Guarna: What you are hearing here is a team. It's not about one or two individuals. That's been the strength of our success.

LaTrenda Easton: We've won some governmental awards, but to place in one where you compete with the private sector where they don't have the internal constraints we have ... it was rewarding for us to see how we stack up against the rest of the world.

Read more about the CTA's journey in the PMO of the Year Award ebook

And stay tuned: we're interviewing all the PMO of the Year finalists this month in the run-up to the PMO Symposium. Next week: VSP Vision Care.

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