teamwork and sparked innovation, both of which have resulted in a highly successful project. The team not only has consistently met its objectives on time and on budget, but the project is achieving even more than was initially expected.
Winnebago County, Wis., began using GIS technology in the early 1980s. Seeing a critical need for a modern land records system, the county created the Land Records Council (LRC) in 1989. The LRC later expanded to include representatives from each of the county's 21 municipalities and, ultimately, became the project team for the Winnebago County Geographic Information System (WINGS).
Project policy issues and approval for major investments were the responsibility of an executive committee, which represented the participating communities and helped foster cooperation among no fewer than 154 elected officials. The LRC created an environment conducive to ongoing, open communication that helped build cooperation and lasting commitment to the project. The LRC also facilitated consensus building on technical project issues such as database design, hardware and software selection, and data conversion and maintenance.
The structure outlined here addresses short-term project issues as well as long-term issues such as new applications development, ongoing database maintenance and system expansion. The structure is not that of a committee but of a team or a task force. The structure emphasizes consensus building, provides a means for education, relies on constant and open communication, helps promote and maintain enthusiasm, and establishes an effective and fair mechanism to resolve conflicts and set priorities. As a result, so long as its participants agree to this format and believe in the project, the GIS will have an excellent chance of succeeding.
The stakes are high when any major technology project is undertaken. The difference between success and failure frequently hinges on having an effective and workable project management structure.
Bart E. Elliott is associate principal of Denver-based UGC Consulting and directs the firm's public sector business segment.