Government Agency Project Management Modernization
Can labor intensive and inefficient project management processes turn into data-driven ones in less than a year?
The IT (Information Technology) department of this large governmental organization handles more than 300 projects a year. The current project management system included on-premise servers, but the team decided to migrate to a cloud-based system. The GreenData team evaluated the existing processes to identify the gaps and to create the best experience for the end-users. This modernization effort involving moving to cloud-based tools enabled better process, especially when using the Microsoft Power Platform to enhance the capabilities and simplify the user experience.
The new solution enabled the IT department to reduce the total staff count required to manage and maintain the system. This is a significant financial outcome for the client as time spent on projects is more valuable than system administration. Overall delivery improvements include accepting project requests rapidly. Utilizing data-driven forms and other tools significantly reduce rework and manual business processing times. Finally, the IT department saw a 10% productivity increase within their five-person intake team, and a 50% increase in productivity across the whole team for the year. Project requests progressed more rapidly so that delivery times were reduced by weeks and even months in some cases.
This client’s IT department handles project requests and projects requiring several approvals from different stakeholders; some projects can last several years. When any department found themselves with a project request for the IT department, they had to print out a form and fill it out by hand. That from is then passed to another member in the process, where they would retype the information and ensure that they acquired the necessary signatures.
The client’s requirement was as straightforward as it can get. They were seeking a more modern solution than the one currently in place, to help minimize manual processes by turning them into automated ones.
IT projects cost upwards of 10’s of millions of dollars. The IT function is a critical tool to ensure effective delivery enabling the organization to achieve its overall strategic goals. Technology is a significant contributor to the organization’s business and supporting this modernization would ensure that they meet their constituents’ needs. From an efficiency perspective the current process was unsustainable, considering they needed many documents per request.
The GreenData team needed to help the client upgrade their project management tool from its original on-premise release dating back to 2011 to a cloud-based solution. A secondary goal was around implementing as much automation as possible in the new solution.
At this time, the client went from on-premise servers to cloud-based servers. All this work was on-premise until the threat of the global Covid-19 pandemic started in March 2020 and helped to advance the timeline by months.
Global disruptions caused by the pandemic in the workplace did not negatively affect this implementation. Instead, the initially set milestones and deliverables expected by the end of the year were completed in April and May. Given that remote work was in place, the GreenData team worked to roll out new capabilities advancing as rapidly as the client could consume them.
Moving to a cloud-based platform would also reduce the cost of sustaining the servers and resources in the IT department. The client could now reduce risks and costs for maintaining on-premise servers.
The GreenData team began by interviewing the client’s teams to understand what was already in place. Once they documented the tools, processes, and other internal knowledge, they could identify the gaps and move a step forward towards creating the best experience for the end-user. Iterative design and analysis helped facilitate a back-and-forth dialogue with the client throughout the entire life cycle.
Multiple analysis and design sprints kept the client engaged to avoid any issues that might arise ahead of time. The GreenData team was able to deliver a better outcome for the client and anticipate the client’s changing requirements, requiring on-the-fly changes to the solution.
It was also recognized that the organization would benefit from better automation. Data-driven forms and other tools would significantly reduce rework and manual business process time as separate groups were inputting the same data more than once – oftentimes using pen and paper.
By modernizing the process flow for project intake requests, the end-users could push electronic forms to different stakeholders. These requests could be sent by email and include the ability to get the necessary signature and approvals. This major modernization step resulted in considerable time savings and data quality improvements.
The GreenData team also worked closely with the stakeholders creating PowerApps to complete the intake process and other types of data input. The client could leverage automation and Power BI to generate comprehensive and meaningful data around their projects.
The GreenData team called knowledge transfer meetings, during which, stakeholders communicated issues and challenges. The implementation team later conducted training – not only teaching users how to use the new cloud-based solution, but also how to maintain and advance it. New capabilities should be easy to implement as the solution is comprised of low-code business-friendly applications from the Microsoft Power Platform. The solution was intuitive, and the client was trained to maintain and grow the solution to meet their ever-evolving needs.
The GreenData team designed and created a modern project management system to support project requests from ideation to rollout. The client could easily oversee their project scheduling and project cost management, maintenance, and monitoring through the delivered solution.
The client reduced manual labor in the project setup, request, and approval processes by adopting the new solution. This ensured that members were able to validate the budget and to receive management approvals efficiently. They were also able to accommodate their resourcing needs across multiple project portfolios by identifying the appropriate staff responsible for working on projects.
Key to moving from the on-premise servers to a cloud-based solution was Microsoft Project Online. Project Online offers full portfolio and project management tools on the web. With it’s useful check-in/check-out functionality, it allowed the IT department to have a single source of truth for all project schedules, sitting in the cloud.
SharePoint Online was used as a cost efficient, cloud based database to store project data. Its scalability, seamless integration with Project Online and its ability to connect with PowerApps and PowerBI, as well as its user friendly interface, make it the best tool to help unify all project data and artifacts.
Microsoft PowerApps was leveraged as low-code tool to rapidly develop business applications, helping increase productivity, eliminate manual data entry and rework. From project intake to managing and tracking project artifacts, the PowerApps created, offered easily accessible and friendly online interfaces helping collect, manage and collaborate within the IT department, also enabling reporting.
Microsoft PowerBI was key to delivering dashboards and reports to key stakeholders in the IT department as well as the leadership of the organization. Reports and dashboards were consuming data from Project Online and SharePoint Online. Dynamic visualizations were created, which included status reporting, time entry compliance analysis, time tracking analysis, risk and issue analyses, among other.
Microsoft Power Automate was key to enabling automation within the IT department. More specifically, repetitive, manual workflows were redesigned and automated with Power Automate and notifications were triggered at the right time, requesting user input and sign-offs, when required. This tool, helped foster overall collaboration and minimizing inefficiencies.