2013 PMO of the Year
Canada Health Infoway blends IT infrastructure development with a healthcare mission.
BY JEANNETTE CABANIS-BREWIN
Remote villages in Canada's northern reaches can be hundreds of kilometers from the nearest healthcare facility. But thanks to the work of Canada Health Infoway, a doctor can be as close as a click.
An independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by the government of Canada, Infoway jointly invests with its provincial and territorial partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health solutions across the country. Infoway and its partners help to deliver better quality and access to care for improved health, and more efficient delivery of healthcare for patients and clinicians. To deliver on this promise, Infoway plays the role of “strategic investor” to plan, invest in, advise and monitor projects that are managed and implemented with its partners: provincial/ territorial ministries of health and other public sector entities such as hospitals and health regions.
Central to these efforts is the portfolio management office (PMO), headed by group director Rose Ann Radosevic, PMP. She explains the role of the PMO this way:
“The PMO's focus is on governance and oversight. The team is aligned with Infoway's regional project teams in providing project management support and acting as key liaisons during audits. The team is also responsible for portfolio-level reporting to senior management and the Infoway board of directors.”
Before entering into a legal agreement with partner organizations, Infoway makes sure those partners are ready to proceed. One way to do this is by breaking projects into phases and making sure they have needed resources. Infoway calls this Phase Zero—and treats it as a project in itself. Phase One is the planning phase, in preparation for the Phase Two implementation. Each phase is reviewed by a risk management expert to ensure that the phase is appropriate in terms of budget, scope and schedule compared to the objectives and anticipated benefits.
“Given the size and complexity of these projects, the phasing strategy has reduced the risk of investing public money in projects that will not meet the objectives,” she says.
According to Ms. Radosevic, “by leveraging existing investments, Infoway and its partners build innovative solutions and look to emerging technologies to improve the patient experience, especially important for Canada's widely dispersed population.”
By using project management best practices and standards, treating the investments as projects with defined scopes, schedules and budgets, Infoway is able to track the funds from approval through closure and provide status updates at any point in the process. Keeping this process documented and detailed is critical from an audit and business continuity perspective, given that the organization is dealing with public funds.
“Given the size and complexity of these projects, the phasing strategy has reduced the risk of investing public money in projects that will not meet the objectives.”
—Rose Ann Radosevic, PMP, Canada Health Infoway
A Unique Structure
Established in 2004, the PMO holds a unique place in the organization as a neutral body reporting to the chief financial officer through the executive director. Current staffing consists of the group director, two senior project control officers (PCO), one PCO and a manager of Changepoint solutions. All have the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification.
The PCOs are recognized as experts in project management methodologies and have established strong relationships with Infoway's regionally based project teams, located across Canada. They offer these project management teams a “one-stop shopping” experience, not only providing guidance on Infoway's project life cycle methodology but also serving as liaisons between project managers and other Infoway departments such as finance and information management. As a PMI Registered Education Provider, Infoway's PMO offers courses, best practices and instruction resulting in a better-informed project management team, as well as professional development units that project managers can use to maintain their PMP® standing.
Infoway's project management approach not only is important internally and to its partners, but also is recognized internationally as a business model for other countries that are trying to advance the adoption of electronic health records and other digital health projects. Delegates from around the world have come to Infoway to gain an understanding of the processes used to manage the investments.
Largest Internal-Facing IT Initiative? Done.
Since 2005, the Infoway project portfolio has increased fourfold, and the value of the projects has increased by a factor of six. By 2008, it had become apparent that having multiple data sources within the organization was problematic from the perspective of accuracy, efficiency and the ability to absorb changes in Infoway's business. A “single source of truth” was needed. Together with input from a cross-functional working group, a business case was developed and subsequently approved by the executive management committee. Ultimately, Changepoint was selected as the software solution, and Infoway's largest-ever internally facing information technology initiative began.
“In these tough economic times, strict management of public funds is non-negotiable. A PMO that is built on best practices, strong governance and a commitment to excellence is a critical factor contributing to this principle.”
—Richard Alvarez, president and CEO, Canada Health Infoway
An ambitious three-month timeline was established for the first phase of the Change-point implementation that included software configurations, electronic workflow and change management to reflect existing processes that supported user adoption. In the end, the implementation was delivered on time and on budget, winning the project team the CEO's Team of the Year Award for 2008-09.
This achievement was possible due to robust project management and organizational change management processes, in addition to “the fact that it was obvious to everyone that the change was badly needed. It had gotten to the point where we were limited in what we could accomplish by the technology we were using,” Ms. Radosevic says. “It was not just a question of installing new software, it was truly moving the organization from the existing tools onto a new platform and changing people's work habits. We migrated all the data also, within that three-month timeframe.”
Some of the features of the change management process included:
- A representative group selected the software product and was part of the project team.
- A formal change management strategy and plan was put in place.
- The communications department worked closely with the PMO as part of the team.
- A “cheap and cheerful” strategy was used to get buy-in and adoption, with contests and other inexpensive internal marketing tools.
- Rollout was accomplished in stages and by region; the first region (Ontario) was brought on line, then one month later the next region, and so on. Feedback from each region was used to make improvements before the next region rolled out.
“Still,” Ms. Radosevic admits, “it's hard to believe we did all this in three months. Everyone worked extremely hard. Seventeen hours a day is not an exaggeration.”
Winning the PMO of the Year Award is not the only reason Ms. Radosevic feels their hard work has paid off.
“We know that the work Infoway is doing will benefit future generations. We are already leveraging technology to optimize healthcare time and resources. We look forward to our projects continuing to improve the health of Canadians.” PM
For more details about the 2013 PMO of the Year winner, plus the two runners-up, Bentley Motors and Jones Lang LaSalle, download the award white paper at http://www.PMI.org/About-Us/Our-Professional-Awards/∼/media/PDF/Awards/2013/PMO/PMO_whitepaper_final.ashx.
Think you have an award-winning PMO? The 2014 award cycle is now open. Applications are due to PMI on 1 June 2014 and can be downloaded at http://www.PMI.org/About-Us/Our-Professional-Awards/PMO-of-the-Year-Award.aspx.
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