Maturing project management in New York State government
This paper chronicles the implementation of project management practices within New York State (NYS) government. NYS government agencies have adopted much of the project management disciplines codified in PMI's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The NYS Chief Information Officer founded NYS government's first project management office (PMO) two decades ago. Senior Project Management Professionals (PMP)® from NTT Data (formerly Keane) assisted the NYS Office of Information Technology Services (formerly Office for Technology [OFT]) and other state agencies in introducing and expanding project management practices, managing major projects, and implementing agency PMOs. NTT Data has continued to serve NYS for over 15 years, advancing increased project management maturity across agencies and application portfolios.
New York State agencies must plan and implement complex technology projects worth billions of dollars every year, and agency PMOs, led by project managers, use the PMBOK® Guide and the NYS Project Management Guidebook principles to bring critical projects to completion within scope, on time, and within budget. This paper describes some of the critical success factors, strategies, and implementation approaches that have allowed NYS government to develop a mature project management organization.
New York State: Fertile Ground for Project Management
New York State has a long history of individuals and organizations, public and private, recognizing the value of formal project management, and also taking leading roles in advancement of project management as a discipline. New York serves as a solid base for leading universities, global technology corporations, and a professionalized information systems workforce. Technological innovation has often been matched stride for stride with the growth in process maturity, as reflected in early adoption of process, quality, and performance management and improvement techniques. Early innovators like General Electric started productive manufacturing centers of excellence, and a later generation of technology pioneers saw the rise of giants, such as IBM. Universities and other educational institutions introduced emerging disciplines and approaches to commercial and government managers and workforces.
New York City, of course serves as a global hub for world finance, trade, and transportation, but in the last one hundred years an abundance of leading industrial and technological giants have emerged throughout the entire state. The Capital District of New York is anchored by the Capital City of Albany, and surrounded by Schenectady, Troy, and numerous industrial suburbs. Due to its close proximity to such technology and academic excellence, the core of NYS government operates within a sophisticated and mature technological environment.
Project Management Institute (PMI) - Upstate New York
Project Management Resources
The Upstate New York (UNY) Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed in 1977, and over the years has served as a fertile breeding ground for project management maturity, drawing on the practical experience of senior project managers from corporate, academic, and governmental organizations. The PMI UNY Chapter has over 500 members, over half of whom are certified Project Management Professionals (PMP)®. (PMI UNY, 2012)
PMI UNY Chapter members have played significant, formative roles in implementing and advancing project management maturity in NYS government agencies, and fostering the professionalization of the NYS project management workforce. In addition, NYS project management practitioners have benefited from a kind of cross pollination of tools and techniques, whereby the best practices in private industry informed government improvements, and vice versa. Frequently, governmental task forces and work groups teamed up with Chapter officers and teams in introducing new concepts, or creating idea-sharing venues for mentoring, networking, and public-private partnerships. (NYS Forum, 2012)
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)
Members of the PMI UNY Chapter actively participated in the development and subsequent enhancement of the PMBOK® Guide, and over the years, participated in draft reviews of PMBOK® Guide editions (Blake & Breslin, 2002). Several of these chapter members also served in key roles in the development of the ITS PMO, Project Management Guidebook, PMMP, and other key components of NYS project management practices, and were able to ensure Guidebook compliance with the PMBOK® Guide. In fortuitous timing, a PMI UNY Chapter reviewer of an Exposure Draft of the Government Extension to the PMBOK® Guide also served as an author of the NYS Project Management Guidebook, and helped ensure consistency with that document as well. (Blake & Breslin, 2002)
NTT Data, Inc. (Keane)
Productivity Management and Project Management Expertise
Keane was incorporated in 1965 and has been in continuous operation for 47 years. In 2010, with US$1 billion in revenue and 12,000 employees, it was acquired by NTT Data — a New York Stock Exchange publicly traded global IT company with total revenues of US$13.7 billion in 2010 and a global staff of 48,000, making it the seventh largest IT services organization in the world. NTT Data Government clients include the State of New York, the State of North Carolina, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the State of Rhode Island, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and 24 other federal agencies, as well as cities, including New York and Chicago. (NTT Data, 2012)
Keane — now part of NTT Data, Inc. — formally established their project management credentials in 1984, when Keane founders John and Marilyn Keane authored Productivity Management in the Development of Computer Applications, based on their and their company's experiences in managing projects. (NTT Data, 2011) Productivity Management posited six basic principles to ensuring productivity in managing projects, and still represent foundational premises basic to all project managers (Keane, 2002):
1. Define the Job in Detail
2. Get the Right People Involved
3. Estimate the Time and Costs
4. Break the Job Down
5. Establish a Change Procedure
6. Agree on Acceptance Criteria
In the 30 some years since Keane published Productivity Management, all new employees have received a copy, and project programmers and their project managers estimated and tracked their work effort in accordance with these methods. As a result, Keane and NTT Data managed projects have been grounded in formal project management disciplines. From 1995 through 2000, Keane specialized in project management of complex technology upgrades and migrations, including Y2K remediation projects that included code revisions, application re-engineering, and application replacements and upgrades for hundreds of clients. Keane developed advanced processes for portfolio management, project metrics, dashboard, and health check management techniques. By using Keane's project management techniques, client management could monitor and measure performance against key indicators for dozens of projects and applications.
NYS Government Experience
Keane's project management expertise and ability to manage large application and project portfolios, particularly their experience managing Y2K projects for state agencies, came to the attention of the NYS ITS PMO at its inception. Several of Keane's most senior project managers at that time were managing projects and application portfolios for commercial and NYS agencies. Keane project managers had been managing projects for the NYS Division of the Budget (DOB), Office of the State Comptroller (OSC), Office of Mental Health (OMH), and Department of Transportation (DOT). Considering ITS PMO's perception at the time that NYS needed to create an advanced project management capability internally, and Keane's standing as a leading provider of project management services for NYS, Keane was an obvious choice as the preferred partner in ITS's aim in building NYS project management maturity.
In 1999, Keane was engaged as a core member of the combined NYS ITS, state agency, and the Keane project management team chartered to produce the NYS Project Management Guidebook. With a first release in 2001 and a second in 2003, the Guidebook was an aggregation of “collaborative best practices for Project Management gleaned from NYS agencies, PMI, and Keane's own Productivity Management.” In the years since implementation, Keane has managed Guidebook-defined and controlled projects across numerous NYS agencies, and assisted with multiple PMO and program management implementations, “customizing and/or supporting the Guidebook's Project Management Methodology.” (Keane, 2011)
NTT Data, Inc. has continued and nurtured the rich tradition of Keane project management for NYS agencies, delivering vital PMO implementations and managing critical technology projects for agencies, including ITS, DOB, OSC, OMH, DOT, Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), Integrated Justice Advisory Board (IJAB) agencies, NY State Police, Department of Taxation and Finance, Workers Compensation Board, and the NYS Lottery/Thruway Authority. Hundreds of Keane consultants have provided services for 20 NYS agencies over the past 20 years. (NTT Data, 2011 and 2012)
Strategic Opportunity for New York
Introducing Project Management in NYS
New York State (NYS) government has been an early adopter, consistent advocate, and eager proponent of project management, principles, and practices, and their value in technology projects.
The creation of two critical organizations established a firm foundation for the professionalization and maturation of project management in NYS government. NYS established the Office for Technology (OFT, later to become the Office of Information Technology Services) in 1997, designed to serve as a state-wide resource for the introduction and development of technological expertise, “helping NYS government use technology to improve services.” (Blake & Breslin, 2002) The NYS ITS took an early interest in project management as a core technology enabler for NYS, especially in light of the difficulties agencies encountered dealing with potential Year 2000 (Y2K) remediation. (Breslin, 2012) In 1999, NYS ITS formed an Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO), “to serve [ITS] and other NYS agencies in the role of a Project Management (PM) Center of Excellence, providing expert PM services, Project Portfolio Management and the issuance and maintenance of PM standards and policies.” (NYS ITS, 2010)
A key factor driving ITS focus on project management during this time was the recognition that many of the project management resources contracted for Y2K were consultant contractors. (Breslin, 2012) There was growing awareness that practitioner expertise was of equal immediate importance to tools and techniques. This led ITS to create a Project Management Mentoring Program (PMMP) to “build the cadre of PMs in state government.” (Breslin, 2012) At the same time, ITS created a formal project management office (PMO) at ITS, to advocate and advance PM disciplines in NYS, but also “to build a group of PMs that could be loaned to manage large NYS projects.” (Breslin, 2012)
The PMMP sought to identify and recruit experienced project managers already within NYS government, match these more senior project managers with candidates they would mentor, and equip mentor and protégé with high quality project management training. The program was designed to formally engage mentor and interns for a 6-month period, during which time the intern would manage a project for his or her agency under the guidance of his or her assigned mentor. Throughout this period, ITS provided project management training to interns in the PMMP program. (NYS ITS, 2011)
An early by-product of the nascent PMMP was the identification of the need to adopt a formal project management methodology, and develop a project management “cookbook” for project management practitioners, which eventually resulted in the development of The New York State Project Management Guidebook. (Breslin, 2012) Once developed, the PMMP curricula incorporated the contents of the Guidebook. (NYS ITS, 2011)
Maturing Project Management in NYS
Project Management Life Cycle
The NYS Project Management Guidebook was created to “document a standardized methodology for managing projects in NYS government organizations.” (Blake & Breslin, 2002) The ITS PMO organized a collaborative team, which included senior project managers from ITS, Keane, leading state agencies, and a local consulting firm. They first undertook to organize and compile best practices and traditional project management approaches and techniques into a project life cycle informed and augmented by project management controls. Since the Guidebook was expected to be used primarily for information technology (IT) projects, the team developed “a generic System Development Lifecycle (SDLC) methodology.” (Blake & Breslin, 2002)
The PMO assembled a life cycle with detailed project phases, processes that take place within each phase and tasks that are parts of each process. To give state project managers the means for effectively executing and managing those processes, the Guidebook Team included tips and techniques, frequently asked questions, and common pitfalls. (Blake & Breslin, 2002) In organizing the Guidebook, the PMO adopted phases consistent with the PMBOK® Guide: Project Origination, Project Initiation, Project Planning, Project Execution and Control, and Project Closeout. (NYS ITS, 2002)
NYS Project Management Guidebook
As the project management life cycle was developed, the team conducted extensive research on project management from expert sources, including the PMBOK® Guide and Keane's Productivity Management. The team also conducted a best practice survey, targeted at project managers currently working in NYS agencies, and informed by effective project management techniques already in use in NYS government. Respondents were also asked to identify current or recent successful projects, “practices or critical success factors” that contributed to project success. (Blake & Breslin, 2002)
The Guidebook was organized into three sections: Project Management Lifecycle, Project Management Topics, and SDLC Line of Business methodologies for product development. The life cycle section provides detailed explanations for each project phase, along with sample project management deliverables. Contents are augmented with tips and techniques for each phase and the common pitfalls to avoid. (Blake & Breslin, 2002) The project management topics covered include project triage, leadership, procurement and contract management, performance measures, IT project capability, and IT project tools. (NYS ITS, 2002)
The Guidebook was published and subsequently updated in 2003. To provide guidance and inform project sponsors and key agency decision makers, ITS produced a version of the Guidebook for that audience titled Management's Guide to Project Success. (Blake & Breslin, 2002) The Guidebook, with its companion life cycle and related products provide a “standard for agency staff to use when contracting with private vendors.” (PMI, 2008) These works are “changing the way the state does business.” (Blake & Breslin, 2002)
The Role of the Project Management Office (PMO)
NYS ITS PMO (NYS Government-Wide)
The NYS Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Office Information Technology Services (ITS) implemented several important initiatives in addition to the Guidebook and the PMMP. The ITS PMO formed the PMO Roundtable and Project Management Community of Practice, which eventually were supported by the NYS Forum, a non-profit consortium, with members drawn from both private and public organizations. (Breslin, 2012) The NYS Forum supports project management resources under its Standing Committee on Project Management. The Forum's Community of Practice serves as a clearinghouse of techniques, practices, and lessons learned for project managers in NYS government. Project managers can also access a Project Management Repository maintained by ITS. (NYS Forum, 2012)
The PMO Roundtable, recently renamed PMO Leadership Network, was established to “support PM implementation efforts, including PMO establishment, PM Methodology implementation across a division/bureau/agency, as well as management of agency project portfolios.” (NYS Forum, 2012) The Forum's Project Management Work Group continues to meet regularly, promote and advance ideas and improvements within the NYS PM community. The Committee has sponsored joint meetings with the PMI UNY Chapter, and played a role in promoting a new NYS Civil Service job title series for project managers. (NYS Forum, 2012)
Project Manager 1 and 2 Titles
Senior NYS project managers have long sought to build agency and state acknowledgment of the need to create a professional cadre of qualified project managers within state government. Those state employees managing projects in the agencies were assigned to IT, programming, and data processing titles. Qualifying exams had little content relevant to project management, and often lagged behind technological developments and new products. From the inception of the ITS PMO and throughout subsequent development of project management resources, creation of project management-specific job titles was viewed as an essential step in growing project management professionalism and reducing state dependency on contractor project managers.
After years of coordination, careful planning, and preparation, ITS PMO, and a multi-agency work group completed preparation of a qualifying exam for two new Civil Service titles for Project Managers: Project Manager 1 and Project Manager 2. The first Civil Service exam for Project Manager 1 and Project Manager 2 positions took place in February 2008, and was open to both current NYS employees and the public (non-NYS employees). Based on the results of that exam, a hiring list of qualified candidates was established.
A state-wide hiring freeze was instituted within weeks of the hiring list's establishment, and the agencies who did attempt to fill titles found hiring candidates off the lists somewhat difficult. (Many current IT employees and project management practitioners took the exam to establish credentials, rather than seeking employment or transfer.) Without an influx of more entry level project managers, PM-3 and PM-4 exams were never developed. (Breslin, 2012)
Agency PMO Implementations
Many NYS agencies have either implemented or maintained their own PMO and project management resources, in lieu of or in addition to accessing enterprise project management resources available through the ITS PMO. Agency functions and key services can differ widely across agencies, and agencies are very reluctant to acknowledge process commonality due to content or focus differences. Many of the same agencies that contributed so significantly to the development of the ITS PMO, its products and services, nevertheless maintain their own agency PMOs. (NTT Data, 2011)
At the mid-levels of higher IT proficiency in NYS government, project management practitioners may find promotions and lateral transfers between agencies problematic, as management places as great or greater value on subject matter expertise versus technical proficiency. Expertise in specific tools or technologies quickly loses value given technology advances and improvements. Expertise in project management should be less dependent upon technology, but without higher level project management titles, project management career progression may be limited. A newly reorganized Enterprise PMO, along with the implementation of agency clusters and cluster PMOs, as discussed below may offer new opportunities for project management professionalization.
Current and Future Trends
Budget constraints and a worsening financial situation for government at all levels drive the potential for significant and abiding changes in the way IT services are provided in NYS. NYS agencies witnessed a prolonged period of delayed or frozen hiring, and initial attempts to convert contractor resources into government employees (in-sourcing) encountered obstacles to hiring at levels adequate to fill specialized IT positions, especially those in project management.
In NYS, functional managers resisted efforts to reassign project managers into PMOs, which they viewed as losing control or autonomy or staff. A too heavy-handed approach to implementing project management or building a PMO caused undue friction with IT and functional management teams. As interest in and commitment to an Enterprise PMO diminished, “more and projects went underground.” (Breslin, 2012)
Agency relocations are consuming IT resources and resource availability. Federal grants for state government implementation of IT initiatives are diminishing, with a reduction in funds and elimination of several sources of state IT funding. Budgets are constrained, staffs are constrained, priorities are in flux, and staff positions are lost continually due to retirements, without the ability or a decision to fill vacancies.
Statewide IT Transformation
In January 2012, Dr. Daniel D. Chan, NYS Acting CIO and Action Director of ITS, presented highlights of the ITS Statewide IT Transformation Initiative. Starting in 2011, NYS initiated reorganization and technology initiatives designed to transform the way NYS provides IT services to NYS government, agencies, and NYS citizens. As part of these efforts, NYS developed a comprehensive IT asset inventory, designed an enterprise IT governance model, and defined requirements for four key projects to kick off transformation efforts: Data Center Consolidation, Email Services, Converged Network Services, and Enterprise Identity and Access Management. (NYS ITS 2012)
In concert with project initiatives, the former OFT was re-designated the Office for Information Technology Services (ITS), and implemented a new Strategic Sourcing Initiative. Strategic Sourcing encourages interagency collaboration, and relies on procurement data and market analysis to consolidate NYS technology buying power, ensuring “best value” for the state. New York State's IT Transformation effort and Strategic Sourcing initiative will introduce a new operating model and chart a new course for delivering IT services in the manner that is cost-efficient and outcome-oriented,” according to ITS. (NYS ITS 2012)
Cluster-Based IT Management
The NYS Strategic IT Clusters charter implemented a restructuring of NYS IT management into Clusters defined by program subject matter: Health, Disabilities, Human Service and Labor, Public Safety, Finance/Gaming, Transportation and Economic Development, General Government, and Environment and Energy. (NYS ITS, 2010)
A primary component of the IT Transformation Initiative is migration of IT management from agency to Cluster level, with IT management placed under the direct control of Cluster CIOs. The IT Infrastructures of agencies will be consolidated within ITS at the Enterprise level. This reorganization and realignment are designed to enhance productivity, eliminate redundant services, and enable dynamic reallocation of limited resources to program priorities as determined by Enterprise and Cluster executives. (Lloyd, 2012)
A new Enterprise (statewide) Project and Portfolio Management (EPPM) process is being defined and deployed across the Clusters. The EPPM will establish a single methodology to identify, rationalize, and prioritize project proposals based on alignment with Enterprise and Cluster program priorities. This will allow Cluster PMOs to use a common set of processes and systems to manage and report on all major IT initiatives. While implemented at the Cluster level, the new EPPM process will aggregate all project activities within in EPMO. This newly vitalized EPMO will monitor all NYS IT resource usage, identify opportunities for consolidated procurement, and identify opportunities to promote Cluster IT investments to Enterprise solutions. (Lloyd, 2012)
Governments at all levels will continue to value project management and view PMOs and project management as important tools to make every resource allocation and procurement dollar count. Financial pressures, and fears of public backlash against failed or over-budget projects continue to underscore the value of project management and PMOs. “Agencies are making a conscious effort to mature their project management practices by drawing on strategies that have long been part of the private sector.” (PMI, 2012)
Government seeks to quantify returns on investment (ROI), and project management tools and techniques are essential tools in controlling projects and resource expenditures, or even proving sufficient insight to quantify ROI. Dan Tuten, PMP at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, describes the effect on portfolio management, “the only way to get our projects prioritized is by demonstrating that we will have the greatest impact on the bottom line.” (PMI, 2012) Governments exhibit growing awareness that project management disciplines can lead to successful projects; successful projects conserve limited taxpayer dollars; and achieving more favorable ROI — improving our project performance — can stretch those dollars even further.
Consolidation of project management resources within clusters may offer promise for continued maturity and development of project management capability in NYS government. Sharing of project management expertise and resources among cluster agencies may provide career mobility, a wider range of project management opportunities, and greater potential for development. “If this cluster approach is done correctly, the PMOs have a huge role, responsibility, and value.” (Breslin, 2012)
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© 2012, Jeffrey C. Nuding
Originally published as a part of the 2012 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Vancouver, British Columbia