Managing The Project Pipeline
Annually I work with Ministry’s IT Customer Advisory Board (our IT Steering committee) to identify the IT projects for the coming year. Like all capital budgeting processes, we have a IT capital target that is based upon a number of factors like recent financial performance and competing capital projects (usually new imaging equipment and construction projects).
At Ministry we really have two targets, money and time. As I have posted previously, we estimate how much time each IT employee has to work on projects (as opposed to support). We add all of that time to determine the total project time for the year. I am simplifying things, but you get the idea.
If we don’t spend as much capital as we had planned then we can save that money to spend in the future. However, time is different. Every hour that we had reserved for projects is lost forever if we are not using it that way.
We have such a great demand for IT projects, it is important to make sure we do not let that time go unused. In past years we approved projects, then waited for those championing the project to bring them forward. The problem with that approach is that our managers are so busy they tend to wait until the latter half of the year to get things going. In the mean time that time set aside for projects is going unused.
This year we are encouraging our business leaders to getting things moving sooner and telling them the resources are available now. This should better use scarce IT time and reduce the number of projects that carry-over into the next year (which ultimately reduces our capacity for a given year).
I will let you know how that works.