The Value of a Business Case
By Ty Kiisel
I was lately invited to co-present with Scott Sax of Loyola University regarding how they approach projects, operational initiatives and other work done within their IT organization. The presentation was well-received and it was certainly a pleasure to be associated with such an exemplary organization as the crew from Loyola.
Aside from our presentation, Rich Sigler, the director of the PMO at Loyola gave an excellent presentation about how he perceives the responsibilities of his PMO. the title of his presentation was: Technology Project Selection and Governance at Loyola University Maryland. It was outstanding, one of the best presentations I’ve seen on this topic.
He compared establishing a PMO to building a playhouse for his daughters. He suggested that the PMO needs the following four walls and roof:
- A portfolio of projects
- A project management process
- An information system
- A support strategy
He described how (in his opinion) the PMO’s responsibility was to promote a best practice approach to managing projects. I agree. Part of those best practices include how projects are selected for inclusion in the portfolio. It was a real commonsense approach to submission and prioritization I think is worth discussing here.
“Any member of the Loyola community can instigate a project request,” says Sigler. “The request is really a pitch that sells the idea of the project to the committee that makes decisions about whether or not any individual project will be pursued.”
Their governance committee evaluates any potential project based on some very simple criteria that includes “impact” and “effort”. They describe how projects are scored like this:
- Quick Win: High Impact/Low Effort
- Strategic: High Impact/High Effort
- Nice to Have: Low Impact/Low Effort
- Declined: Low Impact/High Effort
They also include in the evaluation whether or not there is a regulatory component or if the project is underway (those projects automatically take priority). The idea is to ensure that the project teams aren’t expected to do more than what they can realistically accomplish during the course of the average semester (which is their normal project timeline).
I like the nature of this simple approach. It gives them the opportunity to evaluate potential projects in a manner that everyone in the community can understand and gives potential project sponsors a baseline for making their project request.
Einstein once said something like, “Any idiot can make things more complicated, it takes real genius to make something simple.”
I think Rich and his team at Loyola have done that with this process. Of course, I’ve left out a lot of the details, but I’m convinced that the four walls and the roof they’ve build for their PMO “playhouse” puts them in a great position to prioritize and focus the project teams at Loyola on the work that will provide the most value to their organization.
What are you doing to prioritize projects and keep people focused on the things that are most important?
About Ty Kiisel
Writing about project management for @task gives Ty the opportunity to share his personal experiences as an “accidental” project manager along with the lessons learned from conversations with customers, hopefully demonstrating that it really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, the rewards of successfully executing project-based work are universal.
@task helps organizations focus on being more effective, innovative, and more competitive with a rich project and portfolio management solution that enables decision-makers to maximize their resources by implementing those initiatives that provide the greatest business value. @task helps align the strategic goals of objectives with the implementation and execution goals of project teams.
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