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How One CIO Reduced Project Timelines by 9 Months

A simple reorganization of his project teams saw one CIO reduce the average time to complete projects from 12 months to just 3.5 months managing and using technology becomes a central skill for all managers, they want IT to help them more quickly than they ever have before.

And this means that the completion of many of today’s IT projects have far more of an immediate impact on helping a firm make or save money, and bring with them shorter timelines and more unpredictable workloads.

This has put a lot more pressure than there used to be on CIOs and IT teams to get projects off the ground quickly or to shift efforts between projects as priorities change. In the past, delays to starting a project could be wiped-out by some hard work further down the line but project timelines are now too short for that.

So CIOs must accelerate the way they initiate projects, and this means speeding-up resource allocation.

How One CIO Did It

One CIO in CEB’s member network has started to allocate project resources at the level of small standing teams, rather than individuals.

These standing teams are self-reliant and can immediately start work, be easily reassigned between projects, and also be combined with other teams for larger projects. This gives the CIO three advantages.

  1. Start projects quickly: The teams contain all the development capabilities to start work and always move between projects as a unit. Each small standing team is made up of three to four individuals, one QA tester and the rest developers.

    Project managers do not move with teams but are assigned to specific projects to prevent jobs and details being missed in transition. Therefore one project can have multiple teams under one project manager, whereas another might have one project manager and one team.

    Managing resources across the whole project portfolio is also streamlined as it takes less time to identify and assemble teams, and get them to operate at full productivity.

  2. Reallocate teams according to business priorities: Fluctuating business priorities or natural peaks and troughs in project workload require different levels of resourcing.

    Standing teams can be added or removed to quickly adapt to planned and unplanned changes in project workloads. Especially for Agile or iterative projects, sprints provide natural breakpoints for teams to be redeployed.

  3. Increased productivity: Organizing IT staff into standing small teams brings several other benefits. Employees within a standing team know how best to work with each other so they become productive on new projects faster. Employees learn new skills from others in the team, and can easily substitute if team members are unavailable due to leave or training.

    Individual employees may resist moving between partially completed projects because they want to “see it through”, whereas standing teams are more likely to maintain morale between projects and encourage an “all in it together” mentality.

Using this approach, the average time to complete projects has reduced from 12 months to a tiny 3.5 months.


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