Magazine article PM Network

Taming the IT Jungle

Magazine article PM Network

Taming the IT Jungle

Article excerpt

At The Nature Conservancy, project management is the tool that keeps us focused. It gives us a connectivity and accountability that could not be otherwise achieved when you operate 450 offices in 32 countries.

It hasn't always been this way. Five years ago, The Nature Conservancy was struggling with scope creep and a lack of project prioritization or oversight. To gain control of our project processes, we needed to implement project management methods throughout the organization. And that began with education. In 2003, we started requiring every employee to complete a project management training program and we expected project managers to achieve their Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification within two years.

We then created a project management office (PMO) and a governance committee, because one cannot succeed without the other. It is the PMO's responsibility to oversee the entire project portfolio, which includes everything from protecting coral reefs and fundraising, to implementing new human resources systems, to communicating with the executive team about what we are working on and what progress is being made. The governance committee acts as a filter, identifying those projects with the greatest priority and allocating resources accordingly.

Through these two bodies, we were able to clearly show the executive team that the project portfolio was lopsided, and not enough resources were being focused on key strategic objectives around conservation. With that information in hand, we received leadership support to redesign our resource-allocation process over four business groups: infrastructure, revenue generation, administration and conservation. We then backed the projects that best aligned with the organization's current goals with more resources. In the most significant result of this process, we raised our investment in conservation projects from $200,000 in 2006 to $3 million in 2007, and dramatically lessened investment in lower-priority administrative projects. …

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