Thursday, March 22, 2012

Capital Planning and Investment Control - What's Next?

It has been over 10 years since the Clinger-Cohen Act, Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) established a new way to manage IT programs.  I am not a CPIC expert so I give much credit to those who have been working to improve how government agencies monitor cost, schedules and performance of IT projects.  It has been 10 years... so are things continuing to improve or is the community at a crossroads?

What is the next big step for the CPIC community? 

Having attended the last two CPIC conferences in the DC area, with the most recent one just this week... it appears that a challenge has been issued for the community to step out of a data gathering and compliance mode and enter into a new level of relevance, importance, value to your organizations and to the ultimate customer... the U.S. Citizen. 

Repeated calls were heard to step out of a purely compliance focus and step into the executive board room, making your input, analysis and recommendations relevant and heard.

Again, I am not claiming to be an expert in the community, however, I do know a thing or two about organizational processes and change management... and I can appreciate the difficulty that this challenge presents to those who have limited resources and organizational pressure to meet data collection and input time lines, especially for "pet" projects.  However, my instinct tells me that this challenge can be met.

It is easy to slip into a mode which is entirely focused on meeting or complying with reporting requirements... and I know there are often road blocks that are hard to maneuver around. So there is a personal risk that may come into play when you step out of your box and attempt to provide some meaningful analysis and recommendations developed from your years of experience and the data you have gathered.

Of course my fall back is always metrics... and the metrics which provide you the ability to take this step are more than you may be required to capture now.  But I contend that a higher level of integrated metrics are what provide the true value to what the CPIC community is trying to do. 

How do you integrate CPIC, enterprise architecture, program management and strategic management or governance activities?  I don't pretend to have the answer to this question for everyone. However, I would suggest it requires a different look, a different view, an integrated view.  Let's explore how to look at these domains within the box, clearly seeing them for what they are, but elevating our analysis to an integrated view which is truly outside of the box... providing a new level of insight, business information, and strategic thinking that transcends the individual compliant focused efforts locked up within the box.

Some agencies are starting to see the value of this level of analysis as budgets are getting tighter and tough decision must be made. What is needed, to promote this concept and leverage the expertise across the industry, is a forum and framework to faciliate and drive this effort. I don't think the right one exists at this point.  And this is worth some thought, as we continue to move forward with an increasing integration of business information needs and new technology capabilities.