Portfolio management data can drive budget decisions

When a department's enterprise architecture identifies duplicate projects, portfolio management data plays a significant role in determining which project gets funded.

The Treasury and Health and Human Services departments said that systematically collecting data with software that maps out which IT projects are better managed has improved their IT portfolio management. That information informs CIOs and other department executives which projects they will include in the budget.

Both departments use portfolio management software from ProSight Inc. of Portland, Ore., that collects data routinely from IT project managers just as a function of business.

Previously, project managers perceived individual requests for management data as singling them out for personal reasons, said HHS CIO Charles Havekost at an industry event sponsored by the Bethesda Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association in North Bethesda, Md.

'Collecting that information used to cause a lot of angst,' said Treasury CIO Ira Hobbs in agreement.

With more effective data collection, agencies can do a better job of managing projects.

The software helps to visualize data and support decisions. If the department's enterprise architecture reveals duplicate IT projects, then the data collected about the management of the projects helps guide the decision about a project's future, Hobbs said. The software ranks projects as a byproduct of the management data.

'Project managers can see how they're doing and also what their neighbor is doing,' he said. When difficult decisions are to be made to drop a project or make significant changes to put it back on track, it's not personal. It's about the data.

Enterprise architecture identifies tasks that need to be done, and portfolio management determines the best system in a business area, Havekost said. For example, HHS had nine grant systems and reduced them to two systems.

'There may be blood on the linoleum, but it's the right thing to do,' he added.

Treasury is consolidating where it makes business sense. But sometimes enterprise architecture cannot accommodate the differences in mission function, such as the IRS and the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

'Right now, EA value is mixed. But it is the right thing to do. EA is key to driving collaboration,' Hobbs said.

EA has been successful at articulating lines of business. For example, Treasury provides HR services not only for its agencies but as an HR line of business provider for the Housing and Urban Development Department.

To expand its customer base, Treasury has put in place a business development office to determine a profile of its typical customer for HR services. Treasury aims to build its niche market among independent agencies and those that are up to the 12,000-employee range, similar to HUD.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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