Deciding Factors

Von Alice Dragoon

At GE Industrial Systems, small projects must achieve payback in less than one year, large projects in less than two years--and project time frames and budgets become tighter every year. (Only compliance projects, like those required by Sarbanes-Oxley, are exempt from the strict time limit.) "We should be implementing every year 50 percent faster at half the cost," insists Scott. "If it cost us $1 to put in a general ledger, it should cost 50 cents next year. If it took six months, then it should take three next year. We recently did an OracleOracle implementation in four weeks." Whether the policy of halving cost and time annually is sustainable remains to be seen. While the cost and time savings have been significant, Scott jokes that he hopes he will have been promoted before he has to ask his team to do something like implement ERPERP in a week. Alles zu ERP auf Alles zu Oracle auf

At Hershey Foods, project requests used to pour in so frequently that Vice President and CIO George F. Davis jokes that even the janitor could submit a half-million-dollar IT request. Now, projects rarely take longer than a year. To expedite the request process, the company introduced a triage system. All requests are immediately classified as small (IT staff can handle within 10 days), medium (requiring more than 10 days and costing up to $249,999) or large (projects costing more than $250,000). The IS staff handles the small projects. Each medium project is slated for further discussion with the head of the business unit that proposed it. All large projects go before the IS advisory committee, which focuses on the most important projects.

"Our goal is to provide timely feedback," says George Spanos, director of logistic and sales systems (who is also in charge of Hershey's project management office). "The answer might be, 'No' or it might be, 'We need to discuss it at this meeting on this date,' but it's a lot better than not hearing anything."

5 Adjust Budgets To Reflect Benefits

At GE Industrial Systems, if an IT project proposal claims it will save $1 million, then $1 million is taken from the project owner's budget once the project is approved--period. "It's a significant sign-up by the functional owner, who is then committed to deliver," says Scott. "We've just found if programs become 'free money,' then everyone has a great project idea. You end up playing liar's poker to find out who's really telling the truth. This eliminates all that. No one comes to us unless they believe in it." And taking money out of someone's budget is a foolproof way to ensure that it won't be spent.

6 Manage Projects As A Portfolio

Fully 75 percent of CIO 100 honorees manage their IT projects as a portfolio--an excellent strategy for keeping sight of the forest through the trees. At Hershey Foods, a portfolio management system from ProSight has simplified the advisory committee's task of prioritizing IT projects. Instead of asking for the committee's feedback on one project at a time, CIO Davis and his team put some 20 to 30 large projects in context, showing their estimated dollar value and how they align with the company strategy. Davis says that despite tight budgets, his IT project budget doubled this year. "We got twice as much capital this year as we've ever gotten," he says. "We were able to articulate the value and show how projects align with the strategy of the company. It's a direct result of portfolio management."

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