IT Projects Under A Microscope

Project-management software lets companies align tech projects with business goals.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 8, 2002

2 Min Read

Companies can't make the right decisions about which IT projects to green-light, expand, downsize, or cut unless they've put in place good processes to keep track of exactly how much they've invested in various deployments, how those installations are progressing, and how closely they track with strategic business goals. That's particularly important in a time when IT departments have fewer resources to spend on projects that won't cut costs or foster growth.

Portfolio-management software, such as the upgrade to Pacific Edge Software Inc.'s Project Office that was released last week, provides data and reports that help executives make smarter decisions. New features in version 4.0 include better data integration, team collaboration, and Web functionality.

Project Office aids communication, Ramsower says.

Before they started using an earlier version of Project Office last fall, managers at Baylor University "really didn't have visibility into what people were working on," CIO Reagan Ramsower says. That meant that precious resources were being squandered. Ramsower says he now has visibility, along with the ability to create reports to keep the university's president and Board of Regents abreast of operations. "The return on this system is much more effective planning and much better communication," he says. "This is now one of the most strategic projects of the university."

At health-care network Mercy Health Partners, CIO Jim Albin uses Project Office to track more than 4,700 projects, from creating new network IDs to building new hospital IT infrastructures. When someone in the company begins an initiative, he or she submits information on it to the Project Office system. Supervisors can examine what projects are under way and put the brakes on anything that isn't practical or strategic. "You'd be surprised how many times VPs look at a project that one of their subordinates have submitted and ask, 'Why are they working on that?'" Albin says.

Research firm Meta Group says that one in eight U.S. businesses uses a portfolio-management tool to evaluate IT investments and other critical projects. Says analyst Marnie Ross, "The improvement it brings is a better alignment overall, which leads the business to use technology more innovatively."

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