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How to Speed Up Project Approval

No one likes meetings; one firm in our network has revamped its IT project approvals process to eliminate them

Thumbs Up Thumbs DownSatya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, recently encouraged the company’s employees to skip meetings if they didn’t really need to be there. Bureaucracy, like attending non-critical meetings, can lead to a “slow bloated organization,” he said.

A little less conversation and a little more action is a perennial call to arms by managers all over the globe but it’s particularly the case with technology right now.

CEB’s conversations with CIOs back this up and so do data that show 63% of business leaders feel their company responds too slowly to technology-enabled opportunities.

Breaking Bottlenecks

Cutting the time spent in meetings discussing technology projects is a good way to remedy this. For example, one technology services organization in the CEB CIO network found their project approvals process to be a debilitating bottleneck. They used steering committee meetings that required multiple stakeholders to conduct peer reviews, set priorities, and approve project proposals.

And this was incredibly time consuming process to operate, particularly in a globally dispersed organization. First, it’s difficult to find a time in all required stakeholders’ calendars, and second, IT must convince stakeholders that it’s worth their while to attend. And IT still can’t move forward unless it gets the right approvals from the right people.

Virtual Platforms

Instead, the IT team introduced a virtual platform to share information and so that business partners could make governance decisions virtually and not necessarily at the same time, as they would have to do in a live meeting.

Their first step was to establish groups of business partners to validate the need for the business process change, and ensure agreement on approving and moving forward with a project. These business partners are usually one level below the regional or business heads, and are chosen by more senior business leaders to join the group. One of the many benefits of this approach is that less senior employees are more likely to have the time and interest to give feedback on project proposals.

To ensure that the discussions do not drag, IT gave business partners a predetermined amount of time to discuss and make a decision on the project. The project continues with IT only after the required consensus has been achieved between business stakeholders.

The team are happy with the results. They have managed to triple their work output while only doubling the amount of resources they use. They put the success down to the fact that as projects only come over to IT once they have already been peer reviewed and prioritized among business partners, the IT organization can decide the best approach to deliver the new capability.

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