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Business transformation for government projects

Ravi Sahi
March 27, 2012

In today’s government environment, where change is constant and where the focus is on delivering increased levels of value to citizens, government organisations continually invest in areas that create the greatest value for their customer: the taxpayer.

To effectively integrate these changes and the investments that drive these initiatives, most government agencies have developed long-term strategic plans that include major modernisation efforts. If executed properly, the cumulative effect of these efforts will be true business transformation.

‘Business transformation’ is a complex process that allows inter- and intra-agency people, processes and technology to work together toward one common mission. This transformation involves the creation and use of largescale, enterprise-wide IT systems that are difficult to understand, develop and implement.

The projects that are initiated and implemented in the complicated environment affect many facets of the ‘business’ of government. They often involve complex technologies that must interoperate to be successful, require new technologies that have a limited history of successful implementation at the scale they are being attempted, and engage multiple groups, both inside and outside of the implementing organisation.

Moving government forward

Taking the government from where it is today to where it wants to be in the future will require those tasked with managing the business transformation to fully understand how each agency’s business strategy and investments are aligned, and then how to select and effectively manage those investments. Each agency’s investments must be linked to strategic enterprise performance goals and  objectives, and properly managed to completion to achieve maximum return on the investment.

In order to move toward the goal of effectively sharing information, solutions and infrastructure government-wide, key agency decision makers and project managers must understand the processes for describing how organisations do their work; where synergies between organisations exist; how to design, develop and implement common capabilities; and how their investments are linked to agency goals and objectives. This will help project managers and their agencies to more easily justify projects.

When the agency’s investment portfolio is managed with the agency’s strategic goals and objectives in mind, and the selection process is driven by those objectives, projects that are put forward for review at the agency level are easier to evaluate. When project managers align their preferred projects to the strategic goals and objectives, as seen through an Enterprise Architecture, they place those projects in much better position to be included in the agency’s IT investment portfolio.

Better control project scope and costs: When an agency makes its investment decisions based on a formal plan that is tied to a clear, agreed-upon set of strategic goals, those decisions are more closely tied to mission success. When coupled with a sound investment management process that has formal, structured and carefully managed implementation processes to oversee each selected project, the chances of project success increase.

Reduce redundancy of effort in personnel, systems and processes: By following an integrated business transformation process, agencies will be able to reduce the duplication of processes, systems and resources, resulting in much more effective use of limited budgets. They will also have access to information to help them determine what other agencies or programs are doing well, which can result in project managers having greater access to possible collaborators — namely, other people with similar projects, systems, data and information, and experiences that could benefit their project.

The Three-Pronged Approach to Business Transformation

To fully understand how to effectively integrate complex technologies with complex organisational processes and achieve high levels of program performance, one must understand:

  1. How those processes work together to provide value.
  2. How data and information are used within the processes.
  3. How technology is most effectively inserted into this environment.

To achieve true business transformation through business and technology modernisation, project managers should fully understand the three major elements of successful business transformation.

These three areas of focus must work in concert in order to achieve the maximum value for the agency’s investments and to deliver the best possible mission-oriented results.

1. Enterprise Architecture

An EA is the explicit description and documentation of the current and desired relationships among business and management processes and the information technology portfolio.

It establishes the organisation-wide road map toward business transformation. If designed and followed correctly, this road map leads an agency toward achieving its mission through the optimal performance of its core business processes. The EA is a blueprint for defining an organisation’s current (baseline) and desired (target) environment and the plan for reaching the target, called the Transition Strategy and Sequencing Plan (T&S).

In addition to the specific architectures that make up an EA—business, data, application and technology architectures—EA is also composed of organisational structures, performance measures, processes, documents, governance and resources. In other words, EA, in addition to being a compilation of information, is also a set of processes that organise and structure the way technology is used within an agency to create value.

2. Capital Planning and Investment Control

The objective of the CPIC process is to ensure that agencies select the most effective projects to meet their business and mission objectives, and that those projects are monitored and managed effectively to ensure maximum value.

3. Earned Value Management

Once the key asset portfolio has been evaluated and selected against the desired mission outcomes, and the critical outcomes associated with interoperability, integration, sharing and reuse have been addressed, agencies must have in place an overall project management process to ensure project success. EVM is the essential element of project management that ensures each project is delivering the expected results as planned.

Ravi Sahi
Ravi Sahi PMP is the regional director of Client Solutions for Asia at ESI International, a subsidiary of Informa, which specialises in helping people around the world improve the way they manage projects, contracts, requirements and vendors through innovative learning. Ravi has consulted and delivered project, program, and portfolio management training at all organisational levels. He has an MBA in finance, holds a Masters in Project Management from The George Washington University, and is a Stanford Certified Project Manager (SCPM).
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