Project Management for Government

Ulster County, New York

"By being able to answer the question 'what did your people do last year' – allows us to be audit ready at any time which is important as a government agency."
- Assistant Director of Programming Information Services

Main Challenges

Prior to Project Insight, the assistant director and his team were creating schedules within Excel spreadsheets. All of the manual work resulted often resulted in errors and outdated schedules being emailed. The assistant director wanted to be able to easily build out schedules with more integrity and accuracy. Many times, the spreadsheets were not being updated and sent with the latest information. The team needed a way to see the overall project status in real-time.

  • Creating projects in Excel was manual and error prone
  • No visibility to overall project status
  • Needed a way to accurately track time against projects
  • No visibility into resources' workloads
  • Not in an 'audit-ready' position

The IT department at Ulster County does not have the luxury of overtime. Therefore, they had to be very careful when assigning tasks to resources and filling up their entire day. While most of the team members are well versed in technology, not everyone is familiar with project management terms, so the process of entering time had to be simple and user friendly. Like many organizations, schedules are always changing and there no was easy way to shift a schedule without knowing how other resources would be affected first. Because they were relying on spreadsheets, the team had a very clunky reporting process that took place on a monthly basis. This resulted in zero visibility into knowing who was working on what task or project at any given time. As a government entity, Ulster County must meet certain audit requirements that informed the people of what exactly the IT department did and completed in the prior year as a form of accountability to the county's taxpayers. Before implementing Project Insight, they were not able to answer that question quickly and therefore they were not in an audit ready position.

Why Project Insight

What the IT department initially began searching for was a combined project management and help desk product. The budget for a project management tool has been built in for ten years and it was time to put it to use. When the assistant director of programming joined the organization, he acknowledged that a product with both project management and help desk functions might be difficult to find. So he began to focus on just a project management system. He began with plenty of web research in order to find the right project management software for their team. The list began at 30 different products and gradually got narrowed down to 12 and finally three. After carefully analyzing their set of criteria, Project Insight was chosen.

When making the final decision, Project Insight's software met every requirement on the list. The demonstration of the project software was very smooth and it was apparent that the presenter listened to what they needed. The high level of expertise by the representative at Project Insight, the familiar scheduling engine, and the ability to get started right away were important factors in choosing the product. According him "the demos were really good, everything worked and the showed us everything we wanted to see…the presenter obviously new the system inside and out."

The Results

  • A strong and user friendly scheduling capability
  • Customizable and easy to use reporting functions
  • The ability to provide real-time information

What they like about Project Insight: The assistant director found the scheduling engine within Project Insight to be very familiar, which made the transition to building out schedules online smooth. To reduce the chance of error, project templates could be created and used when kicking off similar projects. When building a new project or adding to an existing one, tasks could easily be inserted with the use of inline editing or the right click capabilities within the project software. For example, the IT department uses Project Insight to manage the support they provide to the board of elections. He has created a project template for the elections held in November and will be used for all elections moving forward.

The team uses the out of the box reporting functions in Project Insight. They have taken some of the existing reports and customized them to fit their business needs. Rather than running reports on a monthly basis, the assistant director created, saved and shared reports that can be run each week with just a couple of mouse clicks. For example, each week a report is run that shows the hours of all the project resources. The powerful reporting ability also gives the IT department a way to run a 'what-if' analysis, which is used almost on a daily basis. The director can see how certain actions will affect the resources' existing schedule because they can track each team member's hours against the project plan. These reports provide the team with visibility into the project status in real time to the schedule, time spent against it and how the resources can best be allocated.

Having accurate insight into the overall project plan has helped the IT department at Ulster County to prioritize, which is a huge benefit during a tight economy. "By being able to answer the question 'what did your people do last year' – allows us to be audit ready at any time which is important as a government agency", says the assistant director. By being able to answer what projects are currently being worked on and by whom in real-time has made the IT department audit-able and accountable by the people of Ulster County.