Forbes Media: Providing Project Transparency

By Mykolas Rambus  |  Posted 2008-09-02 Print this article Print

Forbes Media uses SaaS for managing its IT project portfolio to better predict and monitor a projects' success and track ROI. Using project software, collaboration tools and effective project management principles, Forbes Media was able to realize the benefits of implementing business software as a service. Implementing tracking software and planning software can be a huge undertaking, but Forbes Media discovered a SaaS service they were able to get up and running quickly.

Forbes Media: Providing Project Transparency

We provide transparency for senior management through monthly reports generated by Innotas. They include financially intensive and overview data: What are the operational objectives and expected results? How much will the project cost? How long is it expected to take? What is the expected ROI/ROE (return on equity) and in which quarter(s)? The reports are easy for non-IT executives to digest in business terms that matter to them.

Since frequent communication with business groups is key to generating value and aligning with business goals, we hold quarterly meetings with each of the 16 customer groups to discuss where IT can partner with them to bring in cost savings, revenue growth, efficacy and innovation. When meeting with the various business groups, our position is that of a business partner and consulting arm that they can leverage to achieve their goals.

Technology is not discussed during these conversations; we simply have a dialogue about their business plans. The talks include members of the IT organization who are qualified to speak the customer’s language. The conversations are semistructured to ensure that IT achieves its planning goals, while also providing an opportunity for creativity.

These conversations are made more articulate and granular by our portfolio management program, which provides a structure and the tools for discussing projects and IT’s capacity to handle them. In fact, implementing portfolio management has led us to realize that we need to move toward a type of sales account manager structure when working with our clients. For example, we recently assigned an account manager to the finance department to leverage the portfolio management software in order to communicate about finance’s IT needs across multiple initiatives and projects, and to provide greater insight into what that department will require in the future.

As IT has evolved its project portfolio management program, our business customers have had to evolve as well. Our customer education activities have involved conversations and socialization regarding how IT decisions are made, how resource conflicts are resolved, how to ensure that business problems are well-articulated and how we’re solving problems.

The portfolio management approach has refined the thinking of our customers. Some have even canceled their initiatives when they can’t make a business case for them. Customer engagement with the portfolio management process is vital to our success and will be an area of investment in the future.

Our on-demand project portfolio management solution provides powerful tools that help our business groups operate even more effectively. These tools also enable us to take advantage of IT’s ability to view the entire organization and capitalize on opportunities for value creation.

Mykolas Rambus is CIO for Forbes Media.

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