Monday, 14 January 2008 04:03

Former Gold Rush City Aligns IT Plans with an Eye on the Future

Written by Demian Entrekin

The Challenge

Roseville, Calif., is a progressive city with its eye on the future. What started as a town developed by disappointed miners from the famed Gold Rush has blossomed into a thoroughly developed, independent city boasting an estimated population of 104,655 residents. Approaching its 100-year anniversary, Roseville is a charter city operating under a City Manager-Council form of government. Out of 199 cities in the United States with greater than 100,000 citizens, 112 use this form of government, where the council focuses on the community's goals, major projects, and such long-term considerations as community growth, land use development, capital improvement plans, capital financing, and strategic planning.

As a full-service city with 17 different operational organizations, the City of Roseville's IT department has more than 180 projects in the works to support critical city services such as the city's electric department, public works, fire department and police departments. As a result, the city's CIO Thomas Freeman is faced with daily decisions that impact residents. For example, he may be asked to approve and implement an enterprise asset management software solution to improve the city's infrastructure, while at the same time he's being asked to review and approve a system that directly impacts the safety of the city's residents - a computer aided dispatch system for 911 calls.

"Human nature is to move forward with the projects that are perceived to have the highest sense of urgency. In many cases, sense of urgency is defined by the departments pushing the hardest for action," said Freeman. "We were lacking a technology solution that enabled us to assess and prioritize the projects that are most important to the city council and Roseville citizens."

Freeman and his team were under pressure from the city council to get a governance model in place for technology, and they didn't have much time to do it. The city council identified five organizational goals for 2007 to continue the city's economic growth, and they expected the IT projects to map to these strategic initiatives:

  • Safe and Healthy Community 
  • Transportation Planning & Investment 
  • Enhanced Community Services 
  • Economic Vitality 
  • Downtown Revitalization

"To make decisions about where to spend dollars, and to understand workloads, we needed to look at the city as a whole," said Freeman. "To determine which projects took priority - whether it's a homeland defense surveillance system or a voice communications system that seamlessly integrates with surrounding public safety agencies - we needed to break down the silos and gain a big picture overview of the needs of our city government."

The Solution

PPM solutions from leading solution providers were reviewed and eliminated due to cost, time to implement and functionality. The City of Roseville selected the Innotas PPM solution because the functionality was well aligned with the city's requirements. Plus, Innotas’s on-demand delivery model enabled the city to implement the PPM solution in days instead of months. Additionally, the Innotas PPM Starter Kits, which offer a step-at-a-time approach for implementing the Innotas on-demand solution, closely resembled the governance model laid out by the city council.

"This was no accident," said Innotas CEO Keith Carlson, "We've researched the various scenarios in which PPM is needed, and have designed our on-demand PPM solution with best practices built-in. Our PPM Starter Kits closely align with these scenarios, helping customers start where they need to, bring the organization along, and then later move on to solve their next IT challenge."

Innotas provides customers with a PPM Starter Kit to help them get Project Portfolio Management software implementations up and running in days, instead of months. Innotas' PPM Starter Kit addresses three key PPM areas, or PPM Domains, in managing IT project portfolios: managing supply and demand, prioritizing projects, and delivering projects and applications. Customers can begin with the Domain that matches their biggest IT challenge, quickly and easily implement a project management software solution to begin resolving that challenge, and then expand their PPM implementation to the next Domain.

The City of Roseville's most pressing pain point was prioritizing its 180 projects, and aligning them to the overall goals and objectives of the city. Next, Freeman is focusing on resource allocation. The Innotas PPM solution provides him with a consolidated view of all projects, teams and resources. He can now show the city council and management where the IT department is spending its time and moving toward accomplishment of desired results.

"We have accountability to the constituents," said Freeman. "With Innotas' PPM solution we're able to quickly and easily prioritize the projects that are aligned with the city's strategic growth plan, while best serving its residents."

The Results

By selecting the Innotas on-demand solution, the City of Roseville was able to get its governance process in place six months ahead of schedule, and achieved a 6.68 percent savings on existing and planned projects for the year. "We were under pressure to get an IT decision-making process in place, fast," said Freeman. "Not only were we able to get things up and running in just days, we were able to immediately begin using the on-demand PPM solution to prioritize IT projects."

The City of Roseville now has a structured approach in place for acquiring information technology. Departments now identify needs, submit proposals, and present a business case before projects can begin. All of this critical information is captured in Innotas' PPM solution, enabling Freeman and his team to make more informed IT investments. "We are able to capture time and attendance information for our payroll system," stated Freeman. "We are now more accurate in our indirect charge out allocations for resource usage because the guess work of what projects the staff is working on is taken out of the equation."

"We now have a technology governance process in place, along with the Innotas on-demand PPM solution, which enables us to track progress and accountability," said Freeman. "By streamlining the process, we've been able to reduce technology projects that have minimal impact on the city's overall growth, and we're now focusing our resources on projects that are aligned with the city's strategic objectives."

For example, the number one goal of city council is to provide the residents with a safe and healthy community. "A project that got pushed to the top of the list was a public safety project giving police officers high speed wireless transmission in their patrol cars," said Freeman. "Meanwhile, we moved a downtown revitalization project lower on the list. Although it's still a key priority and remains on this list, it falls below the public safety projects in terms of priorities."

The ROI

By using an on-demand solution, the city saved approximately $400,000 to $500,000 in hardware and set up costs. The city has also saved money by not having to dedicate administrator resources to keep operating systems, databases and applications patched and working properly. Training time and start up costs were significantly reduced. Additionally, Freeman projects an estimated savings of $250,000 during the next five years in annual maintenance fees.

Additionally, says Freeman, “Now, we have real-time visibility into, and control over, IT projects on our calendar. We can track both the progress of, and accountability for, each IT project and intelligently redirect resources so that we give priority to the initiatives that align most closely with the city’s goals for safety, enhanced transportation, revitalization and economic vitality.”


Demian Entrekin is the founder and CTO of Innotas (www.innotas.com), a leading provider of on-demand PPM solutions. A recognized thought leader on Project Portfolio Management and SaaS evangelist, he has published numerous papers on PPM and writes his own blog (PPM Today) that explores important issues related to successful PPM implementation. Prior to Innotas, Entrekin co-founded Convoy Corporation, a provider of Enterprise Application Integration products, which was acquired by New Era Networks in 1999. During his 18 year career, Entrekin has also assumed leadership roles as a consultant and as an entrepreneur, delivering commercial and corporate database applications. Demian Entrekin holds a B.A. in English from UCLA and an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. He can be reached at 415-814-7700.

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