Aug 27, 2012

PMO of the Year Semifinalist Profile: Dignity Health’s P2MO Points to “True North” for this Healthcare Nonprofit

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Project & Program Management, Governance, Project Failure & Recovery, Project Management Office (PMO), Project Management Research, Site News | 0 Comments

Today and for the next several weeks, we will be profiling each of the PMO of the Year Award semifinalists … and of course, eventually revealing the winner and top three! Today, we look at a relatively young PMO organization that has quickly revolutionized the project and program culture and processes for one large nonprofit healthcare organization.

Founded in 1986 and headquartered in San Francisco, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), is the fifth largest hospital provider in the nation and the largest hospital system in California. Their family of more than 60,000 caregivers and staff delivers care to communities across Arizona, California and Nevada. They proudly underscore their nonprofit and faith-based foundations in this declaration from their website: “Through teamwork and innovation, faith and compassion, advocacy and action, we endeavor every day to keep you happy, healthy, and whole.”

As a part of this enterprise, the Programs & Projects Management Office (the P2MO to Dignity Health insiders), based in Phoenix, AZ, ensures that program and project-level risks are mitigated, standards and methods are followed, quality management procedures are implemented and all resource utilization is effectively managed.

With a PMO staff of 94 FTEs, the P2MO represents an evolution of project and program management within the organization. An existing PMO had been in place since 2006. A separate Program Management Office was put in place in 2008 in support of a very large organizational initiative to implement Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) systems in over 40 Dignity Health hospitals – a highly visible, high-impact and high-budget  initiative. At the time, there was not a standard/integrated toolset in the environment being used for Project and Portfolio Management. The absence of an effective monitoring and controlling mechanism and the absence of a standard, repeatable and measureable process did not create an environment conducive to successful outcomes.

An additional challenge was the lack of a clear technology infrastructure strategy to provide a toolset for the teams to do their work. That translated into a lack of direction to “True North;” the methodology was based on tribal knowledge; project plans were difficult to maintain; and ad-hoc reporting was prone to time delays and inaccuracy. The lack of effective technology infrastructure prevented the teams from effectively course correcting, and leadership was unable to make fact-based decisions and level set expectations with the executive stakeholder group regarding the project health.

When a new CIO was hired in 2011, it was decided to consolidate the PMOs and to realign the reporting structure. Eventually, through talent acquisition and effective strategy deployment, this work group emerged as the leading authority on everything programs and projects-related; in January 2012 it became the P2MO.

Johnathan Nielsen, Dignity Health P2MO Senior Director

Says Johnathan Nielsen, senior director of the P2MO, “Our scope of operation extends from large enterprise-level initiatives to individual hospital implementations.” The new organizational structure has forged, says Nielsen, “an effective partnership between Dignity Health business units and the IT division, where a common operating picture of IT investment is accessible and actionable by stakeholders.”

“Situational Awareness”
One unique concept noted by the judges in the PMO of the Year Award competition was the conception of integrated organizational project management oversight “situational awareness” – ensuring that program and project-level risks are mitigated, standards and methods are followed, quality management  procedures are implemented and all resource utilization is effectively managed. P2MO is responsible for the people, budget, strategy and operational execution for  five functional areas:

  1. Situational Awareness & Performance Management ─ Offers consultative services for project management best practices; it provides effective mentoring, coaching and training services to the project managers and teams in the field. Here’s a quote from the application essay: “The scope of this group is to provide overall risk, issue and scope management oversight for all projects in flight. This augments and aids Clinical Project Management resources on the projects. It also performs program health assessments by consulting with the project team on trending analysis to make adjustments and recommendations; it provides an objective perspective for leadership and key stakeholders; and it provides consulting and mentoring on project management practices. Overall, this benefits the organization project teams by offering another set of eyes on projects in flight where a significant investment in capital is being made.”

  2. Resourcing and Procurement ─ Manages all resourcing needs of the IT organization to determine the best means by which Dignity Health should fulfill the demand. This demand assessment ensures the appropriate employee and professional services resources are provided and provisioned for projects in a timely manner. Responsible for human capital budgets, forecasts and resourcing for program and project initiatives, as well as establishment and monitoring of professional services contracts. Functions as subject matter expert and liaison to HR for employee hiring.

  3. Integrated Program Technology Services ─ Builds and monitors the project management highway used by the teams to deliver technical solutions

  4. Training & Go Live Services ─ Is responsible for establishing and implementing a repeatable and sustainable training and go-live strategy for Dignity Health’s EHR Alliance program.

  5. IT Finance – Manages budgets, forecasts and expenses associated the IT organization as well as strategic projects.

A Scheduling Control Tower
Another best practice lauded in their application was the development of Master Scheduling. This function was implemented as a direct result of a self-imposed audit of P2MO processes. It was determined there was an opportunity to reduce the risk involved with project delivery. The goal of Master Scheduling is to track and review all proposed projects in planning and in flight. This practice will allow the scheduling dependencies and potential conflicts to be understood and managed preemptively.

Although the P2MO was only formed eight months ago, its foundation was been in the works for nearly  four years, as the organization has grappled with Program/Project Management maturity. This year has seen significant development and acceptance of imperative key functions in support of continuous improvement and progressive capabilities. Says Nielsen, “We have moved from talking about institutionalized PM methodology, tools and training to breathing them. The flip is evident as people/projects are asking for the P2MO to be engaged with them, as they recognize the increasing the value of the P2MO.” Dignity Health P2MO’s elevated maturity due to the organizational change has been validated through several independent audits by Deloitte & Touché, CSC, and Accenture.

Naturally, increased capability, maturity and visibility brings an uptick in requests for work. The P2MO expects a two-fold increase in activity with Dignity Health business teams as they look to engage with the P2MO to leverage services. The goal is to provide the business with standardization, repeatability and predictability for business projects, and begin the process of extending the services to the DignityHealth system wide.

Next profile: PMO of the Year Semifinalist Motor Information Systems.


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