of managing these projects," Locatis said.

For example, the public safety EGC is working on a major system called a message switch, which first responders will use to find out whether a person, place or vehicle has ever been involved in a crime. The EGC's broad perspective helps keep this project on track.

"Instead of just having the eyes of the Department of Public Safety, we've also got very experienced people from Corrections, Military, Veterans Affairs and Local Affairs weighing in," Locatis said. Together they have solved several scope and contract issues. "Before, every department would just kind of go it alone, even if they had weaknesses in contracts or procurement," he said.

Colorado is so devoted to the idea of cross-functional collaboration that it set up an office dedicated to managing one major IT project. IT staff, business stakeholders and vendor representatives configuring a new tax system for the Department of Revenue will work there full time until the project is done.

Previously stakeholders gave a set of requirements to a vendor team or IT staff who then went away to develop the software. When they came back, inevitably the product missed the mark, Locatis said. This isn't so when everyone works daily in the same office. "This way, they can have real-time, iterative, agile development of the configuration of the tax software, with the experts right there to do the acceptance," he said.

Washington, D.C., and Colorado governments aren't the only ones to decide that a broad perspective makes for good project and portfolio management. In California, Takai asked all state departments to develop five-year IT plans, covering implementation projects and infrastructure development. Many departments already create such plans internally. "But we've never had an effort to pull that together into a statewide plan," she said.

Rolling all the plans into a single document will give California a chance to consider new ways to prioritize IT projects, Takai said. That's important in a state where IT is decentralized, each department with its own technology organization and budget. "There's not a good mechanism to align and prioritize the way we're spending our dollars," she said.

Creating one IT project plan for the enterprise will also give legislators a better picture of the state's IT activities, Takai said. Historically California lawmakers have looked at IT one project and one annual budget cycle at a time. Given a holistic view, they can better understand the state's IT priorities when allocating funds, she said.

Besides developing a panoramic view of the state's IT projects, California plans to create a portfolio management office to monitor IT projects and report on their progress, Takai said.

Kitchen Cabinet

At the department level in California, the CDFA has taken the enterprise principle one step further by exchanging its decentralized IT structure for a central IT shop. The move came in response to an assessment the department conducted of its IT activities. The study showed the department was missing some important functions, including project and portfolio management. "Also, there were a lot of duplicate efforts," Ghods said.

An IT governance council, consisting of Ghods and the agency's program and division directors, oversees the new enterprisewide IT organization. To help direct its activities, the CDFA implemented Computer Associates' Clarity Project and Portfolio Management solution.

The council - dubbed "Davood's Kitchen Cabinet" - meets monthly to review current projects' status. "I can use my Project and Portfolio Management to bring up a dashboard that shows which projects are in green, which ones are in yellow, which ones are in red. Those that are in yellow or red are the projects that are not healthy," Ghods said.

The tool also lets the council examine costs for projects and project groups. The

Merrill Douglas  |  Contributing Writer