Project Risk Management (PRM) History and Overview:
Between 2010 and 2016, multiple State of Indiana (SOI) agencies initiated large-scale Information Technology (IT) projects with goals of modernizing technology and applications, driving enhanced business process efficiencies, and ultimately delivering improved services to constituents.
The success of those projects was significantly hampered by the complexity and risks inherent to large-scale IT projects, lack of agency experience/expertise on projects of this scale, and lack of a consistent risk management process across the Indiana.
In response to project results, the governor established a directive to deliver great government service that includes the goal to:
“Improve the management and delivery of large-scale information technology projects with more rigorous project reviews and assessments.”
Achieving that objective is not a short-term goal and requires planning, focus and support throughout Indiana government. Large-scale IT projects, projects with over $1M in IT spending, can be extremely complex, costly, and risky.
In response to these risks, challenges, and the governor’s directive; the Indiana Office of Technology (IOT) created a team that focuses on Project Risk Management (PRM) across the SOI. This team seeks to partner and guide agencies that own large-scale IT projects to help drive project success. Success is measured by on-time and on-budget delivery with agreed upon scope, while meeting expected quality.
The PRM team created, implemented, and continues to own/manage a Project Risk Management (PRM) framework to enhance opportunities for large-scale IT project success across the state. The PRM framework is required for all large-scale IT projects and consists of a comprehensive set of activities applied throughout the life of the project from the idea phase through project initiation, planning, execution, close out, and beyond.
The following content describes the PRM framework and its integration into all project phases to provide a full lifecycle risk management process:
Enhanced Project Selection, Solutions and Preparation:
The diagram above provides additional details for the second level in the PRM pyramid. This focuses on engaging agencies early in the project idea phase to drive consistent understanding between the agency that owns the project, the OMB, and IOT, establishing a solid foundation on which the project will be constructed. This includes:
- Past Lessons Learned / Benefits – Results from previous projects are documented and leveraged to help guide selection, planning, and execution for future projects.
- Early Partnership / Risk Guidance – Discussions early in the idea phase to drive consistent understanding, initial risk mitigation, and expectations on benefits and Return on Investment (ROI).
- Project Investment Proposal (PIP) – High-Level project information is captured in a two-part PIP document to confirm understanding, get agreement on direction, and use for future reference.
- Risk Profiling Service – Consistent method to evaluate and score the level of project risk to drive right-sized mitigation strategies and independent project oversight requirements.
- Procurement Excellence – Enhanced strategy and submission of clear and complete procurement documents leading to valuable and pointed responses and well-informed vendor selection.
- Contract Management – Contract content that sets clear vendor expectations to drive vendor accountability for meeting expected SOI performance levels.
Enhanced Project Performance and Delivery:
The diagram above provides additional details for the third level in the PRM pyramid which focuses on engaging agencies with targeted risk management activities early in the project planning phase and throughout project execution, up to and including, implementing the solution. This helps drive success with respect to scope, timing, budget, and quality. Focus areas of this part of the PRM framework include:
- Risk Consulting – Participation and guidance from IOT to the project sponsor and team throughout project execution to drive proactive risk mitigation and issue resolution strategies.
- Independent Project Oversight – An independent third party assesses project processes/deliverables and provides actionable recommendations to the team to reduce project risk.
- Visibility and Reporting – Consistent and timely project reporting of project status and performance trends for consumption by the agency, OMB, and IOT leadership teams.
- “Just in Time” Reviews / Guidance – Timely guidance and removal of barriers to minimize the number and magnitude of timeline delays, budget overruns, and quality issues.
Benefit Realization and Project Success:
The diagram above elaborates on success criteria measured by the benefits that the project solution brings to Indiana employees and constituents. Once the project solution is implemented:
- Large-Scale Information Technology Project Success Factors:
- Overall project performance and delivery with respect to budget, time, scope, and quality AND
- Meeting or exceeding the expected benefits documented early in the PRM framework OR
- Delivering requirements for projects that involve Federal or State mandates or security-related needs.
- Lessons Learned – Project items that went well and opportunities for improvement are documented, archived and later serve as input and guidance for future projects.
- Benefits Measurement – Expected project benefits identified early in the PRM framework are measured and documented after the project to confirm project success and to guide future projects for benefit development.
- Large-Scale Information Technology Project Success Factors:
The PRM team has provided significant value to multiple state agencies and on multiple projects using the well-established PRM framework. Below are just a few examples:
- Partnered with an agency to develop a new technology strategy which dropped the initial cost of the project from an estimated $160M to $70M.
- Provided a heightened focus / visibility to quality concerns of a large-scale IT project. This enabled the IOT to recommend and receive approval for a delay in the project’s go-live date until expected quality was achieved.
- Assisted agency project team at the beginning of 2018 when it was struggling. Recommended the creation of a detailed, integrated project schedule and a heightened governance structure / process. The agency team implemented the recommendations and the project has been consistently tracking in the “green,” or positively, since.
- Utilized the PRM escalation process multiple times and participated in agency meetings with vendors to help move several projects forward.
- Acted as a valued partner for multiple agencies during large project procurements thus leading to better vendor responses and selections of more qualified vendors.
- Partnered with multiple agencies to adjust contract language for enhanced measurement of vendor successes and drive accountability.
- Guided an extremely high-profile large-scale IT project to completion after stalling and struggling to cross the finish line.
- Expanded internal project oversight services in replacement of vendor independent project oversight services on multiple projects while providing equal or greater value to project teams at a reduced cost.