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How I Used Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Software to Prevent IT Staff Cuts

How I Used Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Software to Prevent IT Staff Cuts

A local council's application development group uses project portfolio management (PPM) software to justify each and every developer to the budget office when the bean counters are looking to cut programmers.

Robert Biles faces new pressure to cut costs. He's the applications systems manager for the City of Miami Beach, which, like many other municipalities across the United States, is expecting massive revenue shortfalls due to the recession.

Over the past two years, Biles says he has lost five employees to relocations or to retirement, and he hasn't had the budget funding to refill those positions. Now, with another tough year for state and local governments on the horizon, Biles says that the city's budget office is suggesting that he cut US$70,000 from the city's payroll—one developer's salary—never mind the fact that workload for his 16-person applications group has increased.

"They ask me, 'How many people do you have supporting a building application?' I say, 'three'," he says, describing his conversations with the budget office. "They say, 'We think you can get by with one [developer] because the application is vendor-supported. Why do you need three people in-house to support it when we're paying vendors to do so."

Biles strategy: He has used project portfolio management (PPM) software to show the budget office why the city can't afford to lose any developers.

PPM Improves Resource Allocation

The City of Miami Beach's IT department began using project portfolio management software from Métier in October 2008 so that managers like Biles could get better visibility into how the department's 45 employees were being distributed across 60 or 70 projects.

The IT department had previously been using Microsoft Project to manage individual projects, but, Biles says, he and his colleagues couldn't see how staff were distributed across all projects, and thus whether they could take on additional work. So Biles and others would blindly assign tasks to staff. The end result: IT workers were frequently overloaded with work, and managers had to decide days before an important deadline what work was going to take precedence, Biles says.

With WorkLenz, Métier's PPM solution, Biles and other managers in the city of Miami Beach's IT department can now see who's doing what, when, and across all projects. Because managers see which employees are tied up with work, they are less likely to pile on tasks and more likely to proactively discuss how to distribute project work across the IT staff, Biles says.

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