Case Study: WA State Department
State Agency Improves Portfolio Management
UMT360 gives the WA State Department of Licensing the visibility it needs to better manage the business of IT.

The Washington State Department of Licensing’s IT division contributes several billion dollars in State revenue each year and is charged with delivering technology to give the public and State employees access to the services they need. The agency was looking for financial and operational visibility into the IT portfolio of services, applications, infrastructure and projects so it could make better portfolio investment decisions.

The agency needed to improve its ability to align costs and benefits to different types of work and technology assets, as well as make more informed decisions with regard to what to invest in and when. It was experiencing a significant backlog of work and recognized the need for a better way to align demand with strategy and objectives. The agency knew it was working with an aging portfolio of technologies, primarily applications, which was increasingly inefficient to maintain.

UMT360, used with Microsoft Project Server, has given the agency the visibility it needed to make more informed investment decisions which align with organizational goals and deliver more value. Within the first few months, the IT division was able to establish foundational project and application portfolio management which delivers valuable IT portfolio insights.

The agency created an application repository and organized the portfolio into a relational structure showing them services, applications, infrastructure and projects. They’re able to create comprehensive analyses and reports of the IT portfolio with a view into assets, services, applications, projects, resources and roles. Overall, UMT360 has helped them mature different capabilities and create a solid foundation for managing the business of IT.

Executive summary

A State Government Agency needed better transparency and control of its portfolios of IT services, applications, infrastructure and projects. The agency contracted UMT to design and implement a process and tools solution, based on UMT360 and Microsoft Project Server, to drive better investment decisions and deliver more value and efficiency for its customers.

Situation

The State Agency contributes several billion dollars annually to State revenue. The IT organization at the agency enables the agency's business goals trough delivering technology that gives the general public and State employees access to the services they need.

IT is under pressure every year to deliver a large volume of changes to services and technology, driven by new legislation and by the need to continuously improve its services.

The agency had two goals: better visibility into all of its IT activities, assets and associated costs; followed by improved team capabilities and improved strategies for planning and executing.

Solution

1. Assessing the Issues: The agency wanted to improve its ability to assign costs and benefits to different types of work and technology assets, and decisions with the business on what to invest in and when.

The Agency had a significant backlog of work, meaning that demand for new work and projects exceeded the ability to supply. Additionally, the prioritization process used to align the demand with the agency strategy and objectives was not meeting the advancing needs of the agency workforce.

The aging portfolio of technologies - primarily applications - was inefficient to maintain and made it challenging to reduce the average cost per transaction.

UMT conducted an assessment of the current and potential future state of IT capabilities, using a combination of surveys, interviews and by studying artifacts. The assessment covered organization, people, processes, and tools and data.

2. Building a Roadmap:The agency faced challenges in managing resources and projects, and in understanding and rationalizing IT applications, assets and services. The recommended approach was to address the root causes in the long term as well as address challenged processes in the near term. For example, what was initially perceived as a resource and demand management problem was found to also relate to the burden of maintaining the agency’s aging technology and application portfolio.

Understand IT - Bring financial visibility into all applications and services, and organize them into a meaningful relational structure.

Run IT - Make informed investments and shape maintenance and operations activities in full alignment with the asset portfolio strategy.

Transform IT - Plan technological transformation projects based on business strategy and a deeper knowledge of the existing systems - not only their labor and hardware costs, but also the costs of transactions and their return on investment.

3. Designing Processes and Tools in Iterations: The approach was to first address the processes, and then implement the improved processes by using better and more integrated tools. The tools solution - consisting of UMT360 software, Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Team Foundation Server - has been named by the agency as ‘OneSource’, reflecting the strategy of connecting disparate processes and managing a single source of reliable information.

UMT used an iterative approach that gradually matured different capabilities and ultimately created a solid foundation for managing the business of IT.


    Design and implement simple, foundational project portfolio management processes for the following: managing intake or demand for IT from the business; prioritizing demand; planning and managing projects; resource planning and time sheeting.

    Build the complete application repository by collecting applications’ metadata; assessing the applications for risk, business impact etc., creating associations between applications and infrastructure.

    Organize the portfolio into services, applications, infrastructure and projects.

    Roll-up labor cost from projects and support activities to applications and infrastructure, with a clear breakdown between project work, support work and administration time.

    Link the reporting system to the general ledger accounts to assure data integrity, but keep the advantage of maintaining the information bottom-up.

    Create comprehensive analyses and reports of the IT portfolio with a view into assets, services, applications, projects, resources and roles.

    Improve and integrate the application lifecycle management process into the mix, leveraging Microsoft Team Foundation Server.


Benefits and business improvements

The roadmap developed focused on establishing foundational project and application portfolio management to create IT transparency within the first few months. After this successful start, the agency now has fresh insight into the costs and human resources assignments across IT, as well as better processes for prioritizing and executing work.

The roadmap goals for the following two years include:

  • 15% savings across the IT portfolio, through improved alignment of work with the IT strategic plan, and improved execution performance driven by process and people improvements.
  • Transparency and reliability of actual resource effort and cost by service, application and project form a reliable, bottom-up process.
  • Better decision-making and control regarding the strategic targets of IT time and cost (e.g. production support vs. transformation).
  • Move towards a transactional model by understanding the cost and return of transactions.