CIOs Critical to Effective Project Management

    Smaller teams, fewer resources, tighter budgets and shorter product development lead times mean that project management has become ever more critical and the decision-making process even more demanding. But effective project management is only as good as the information available to drive the process and that’s why the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) is so critical.

    Today’s CIOs are in a position to affect the positive outcome of an organization’s projects and portfolios, and the best way for them to achieve better results is to know what information to scrutinize and to develop the best strategy to access the most relevant and accurate data needed to improve their decision-making process.

    Project Information CIOs Need to Know
    CIOs drive a global view of all corporate information and all projects in the workplace. This view is absolutely essential as CIOs determine which projects are at risk, which are falling behind or which are over budget.

    But what information is most critical to evaluating these project attributes? Below are four information categories I believe are most critical for CIOs to achieve success:

    Cost and Budget
    Tracking costs and budget overruns is an essential part of ensuring success. If you have multiple project budgets to track, you need a comprehensive view that includes all the separate budgets. With the right information, you are able to make decisions that are best for the company (does the budget need to be reviewed, resources reassigned or should the project be tabled?). Optimizing costs is imperative to project success.

    Project Resources
    Resource management comes under the heading of cost savings and is another key component of effective project management. Being able to manage resources across departments or across projects — centralized resource management -“ allows CIOs to ensure that information is shared with everyone involved. The ability to consult resource availability, to match skills with tasks, to balance workload with capacity ensures the most efficient use of resources, thus reducing costs and optimizing resource assignments.

    Risk Elements
    Every project has risks; some minor, some major, but all have the potential to impact your projects negatively. In today’s competitive environment, CIOs must assess the risks for all projects, determine the possible impact and assign resources to resolve the risk issue or mitigate its impact. Timely access to accurate information is the best way to quickly identify and resolve risks or, in certain circumstances, table the affected project. When you are able to make an informed decision, you are able to generate optimal results and possibly substantial cost savings.

    Collaboration Initiatives
    Collaboration is technically defined as joint work toward a common end. Cross project or even cross portfolio collaboration brings together information from team members, both internal and external, that lets you make accurate critical path calculations. Effective collaboration uses all the tools available to connect with any member of the project team and share information, plan the project, produce master schedules, manage time and cost as well as resources and equipment. Information sharing means fewer delays, more efficient problem solving and an increased value to the company.

    Effective Access to Information is Critical
    One of the major challenges CIOs face is the manner in which this project information is effectively captured and shared. The ability to quickly access relevant data in a timely manner is as important at the information itself. That being said, a CIO’s project information strategy needs to be implemented from the ground up. The standardization of project information submitted by team members and stakeholders will ensure both transparency and consistency are maintained so that informed decisions are made by CIOs. The human element cannot be ignored. Project information is only as good as the people, processes and tools employed.

    Neil Stolovitsky ([email protected]) is a senior solution specialist at Genius Inside, a Canada and Switzerland-based developer of project management software. Genius Inside’s Genius Project family of PPM solutions enables organizations to manage and prioritize product ideas; ensure that the best resources are working on the most promising projects; and facilitate on-time project delivery.