With governance software, IT projects find a groove in Memphis

City deploys Innotas on-demand solution to better manage more than $8 million in IT projects

Until a few months ago, it could take as long as a year for Memphis, Tenn., to complete information technology projects.

“As you can imagine, inside of any city or state organization, particularly those supporting IT functions, there is a significant amount of bureaucracy associated with projects from inception to qualification to implementation,” said Larry Wilson, director of the city’s Project Management Office.

It can take months to establish a clear, auditable trail for project requirement definitions, determine what agency is funding the project, and then support the project — and most projects are multiyear projects from inception, Wilson said.

Last year, the PMO decided to employ an on-demand, software-as-a-service IT governance solution from Innotas, and the system has dramatically reduced the administrative time and red tape involved in completing projects, he said. Wilson is also a consultant at Zycron, an international IT consulting firm whose methodology governs and executes Memphis’ IT programs.

From the initial request through project execution and completion, the city can more effectively track capital improvement project requests from each of its 13 divisions. In one case, when the city implemented IT software to more effectively track fuel consumption for city-issued vehicles, managers used Innotas to approve the project 40 percent faster than originally scheduled.

Before using the Innotas software, the city used Microsoft Office Project Server and SharePoint collaboration software. However, the reporting functions on those tools was not easy to use, and users and executives from the various divisions who sponsored projects struggled to see where the projects were in the approval process, Wilson said.

Also, the Microsoft tools needed a significant refresh that would have cost $200,000, not including the cost for personnel to maintain the systems after implementation. Those costs exceeded the PMO office's budget for project management tools, he said.

Memphis’ PMO wanted a tool that it could tailor to specific needs and integrate with the Zycron project management methodology. The office also wanted a solution that included dashboard capabilities and reporting functions. After evaluating various tools, they decided Innotas met their requirements.

The foundation of Innotas’ on-demand IT governance is its IT Project Portfolio Management, which is used to manage strategic initiatives. The governance service also includes Application Portfolio Management capabilities that help organizations sustain IT operations and maintain activities, Innotas officials said.

The dashboard capabilities can be tailored to specific communities of interests, Wilson said. For instance, dashboards can be set for different executive sponsors. “Say you’re a director of parks and recreations, and you have five projects," he said. “Your dashboard reflects what you properly own as a sponsor.” A higher level official, such as chief administrative officer or chief information officer, could see the full portfolio of all city divisions, including fire, police, parks and recreations, and public works.

In addition, the dashboards provide the analysis tools needed to make better business decisions based on a more holistic view of all inbound requests, priorities and metrics associated with key technology initiatives sponsored by the city’s operational divisions, he said.

The PMO integrated the on-demand software into its project management methodology. Projects have a life cycle and are managed by a methodology — how you initiate, execute and close projects, Wilson noted. Zycron uses a nine-step methodology, which the city embraced.

“My tool has to support the methodology,” he said. "I was able to map the usage of Innotas to the methodology phase by phase. I didn’t have to change the way I wanted to execute projects.”

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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