by: Babak ‘Bobi’ Habibi
There can be many challenges to migrating federal agency program and project management offices (PPMO) to the cloud, but solutions are now available that can reduce the total cost of ownership, deliver analytics and streamline management for agencies.
Project management as a service (PMaaS) makes sense for government agencies because it not only reduces capital expenditures, but also provides holistic and real-time access to the state of a program or project. Additionally, with the right PMaaS on the right cloud, agencies obtain the latest functionalities and services in management, allowing them to focus on mission execution instead of supporting and maintaining operations support systems. With the diminished budgets that so many agencies are experiencing, reducing total cost of ownership and focusing investments on the execution of core strategic issues are a bigger priority today than ever before.
The advantages of the PMaaS approach are substantial and – compared to the more-established SaaS model – less challenging to realize. Today, obstacles are not as daunting thanks to the maturity of the cloud computing environment and the sophisticated PMaaS solutions in this space. Taking advantage of a secure cloud-based management solution gives government agency PMOs and procurement offices control and visibility into their projects without having to chase, consolidate, correlate and analyze information from disparate sources.
Driving the transition from the traditional PPMO model to a PMaaS solution is agencies’ need to simplify processes that are too complex and costly to maintain. Most agency PMO, procurement and resource management systems are disparate and inefficient, with a high level of overhead. So there is a real push, accelerated by budgeting challenges, to reduce application support expenditures. The goal is a bundled and streamlined service readily accessible to all authorized stakeholders. The premise of PMaaS therefore, is a complete solution of cloud-based toolset, resources and support, designed to reduce risk and complexity and ultimately reduce costs for government agencies.
PMaaS implementation requires a solutions partner that can not only provide the right tools over the cloud but that can also work with agencies to implement a strategy to manage and support all aspects of a PPMO operation.
Implementation should occur in phases. In the planning phase, the PMaaS vendor works with the agency to develop the implementation plan and validate that the solution is able to accommodate existing requirements. Integration and customization requirements – analytics, reporting and other methodologies – are verified. Next comes the pilot phase, in which a lower environment is stood up and populated with client data and integrated to any agency-required third-party products. Then, in the validation phase, all required portfolio, program and project management data is moved over and verified.
Only then does the final migration – the cutover from lower environment to production environment – take place. These activities should all occur in an ISO/IEC 27001-certified environment, addressing agency compliance requirements regarding network and physical security, access control, HR and operations security, etc. At this point PMaaS is ready to be operationalized, and day-to-day management will commence.
It is important to note that not all PMaaS implementations result in a single cutover of programs and projects. The right PMaaS partner will work with the agency to prioritize which projects will first transition to the cloud. The logical place to begin is to kickoff new projects on the PMaaS. Those that are already in flight will follow a phased transitional plan. The right partner will work with the agency to ensure an orderly and seamless transition from the on-premise systems and processes to the cloud-based PMaaS, utilizing a customized, appropriately phased approach.
The bottom line
The key benefit of a cloud-based PMaaS solution is the ability to reduce total costs of ownership immediately, by as much as 40 percent within the first year alone. Equally beneficial are the streamlined management and readily available reporting and analytics tools agencies can access.
In the past, such a service would be laden with hidden costs, limitations in cloud technology, over-reliance on SaaS capability and an inordinate amount of time required to go live. Fortunately, the tide has turned and an intriguing case now can be made for delivering an end-to-end portfolio, program and project management solution over the cloud.
But this cautionary note must be heeded: just getting on the right cloud is not the end of the story. Built-in support services are needed for project management and operations to achieve true success. Agencies must be careful that they are not merely relocating data from one data center to another with little to no measurable benefits.
Babak ‘Bobi’ Habibi is chief orchestrator for PMOrchestrator Inc., a Reston, VA-based management consulting and advisory firm.
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