States move to centralize IT project management

By adopting centralized governance and common project management practices, states can ensure that a greater number of information technology projects succeed, according to a new report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

A Web-based survey of state CIOs and project management officers conducted in late summer found that a majority of states are creating statewide project management organizations. Officials from 33 states and Washington, D.C., said they have such an office already in operation at some stage of development or are considering developing one. (Seventeen states and five territories did not respond to the survey.)

“Adopting an enterprise approach toward IT investments will yield many benefits,” according to the report. It notes that states are struggling with tight budgets and workforce reductions because of retirements and must find ways to operate and provide improved services with fewer resources.

According to the report, project teams should be set up to leverage the various strengths of employees throughout the project management organization. Parties also need to agree on governance document needs, the report’s authors wrote.

Asked about IT project portfolio management, officials from 27 states, or 80 percent of the respondents, said they used project inventory and tracking procedures. Adopting a centralized approach to project portfolio management can still recognize the needs of each agency while coordinating the efforts of the individual agencies and eliminating duplication, the report states.

The survey found that in 30 percent of states responding, the statewide project management office plays a major role in guiding business investments, choosing projects and complying with enterprise architecture standards. A majority said their IT strategic plans include project management.

About 40 percent of state respondents said they have proficient programs and processes to train and certify project managers. More than 43 percent recognize certification from the Project Management Institute, a professional project management association that provides a certification program.

Nearly 30 percent of the survey respondents said project management is a classified civil service title in their states. Although only a handful of states indicated they have an established career path in this area, 43 percent reported having documented job descriptions for project management.

“It seems individual states are beginning to recognize and formalize the project management career within their governments,” the report states. “Project management has a foothold in training programs, and formal recognition of professional certification from the Project Management Institute, in particular, seems to be growing.”

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