Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA)

Pcubed helped Mountain States Health Alliance rapidly implement an improved strategic portfolio optimization and resource demand management approach across its IT projects and programs — achieving in six months what the CIO had previously experienced taking six to eight years.

The Client

Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) is a healthcare company, headquartered in Johnson City, Tennessee, operating a family of 13 hospitals serving Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky, and Western North Carolina. MSHA is a non-profit organization that employs some 9,000 team members.

"The key benefit to us was speed to value"

"Pcubed brought in a very high, very acute awareness of what steps organizations have to go through in order to recognize effective portfolio management."

- Paul Merrywell, Chief Information Officer, MSHA

The Challenge

MSHA was facing significant resource demand and capacity management challenges due to an increased demand for business enabled IT projects and the ever-growing pressure on healthcare organizations to do more with less.

IT-enabled projects lacked visibility in terms of resources and finances, leading to overstretched teams trying to deliver projects reliably, on time, and within budget. As a result, most projects were taking longer than expected, with some significantly exceeding deliverable deadlines. Resource demand and capacity were not being adequately considered when committing to delivery deadlines. Additionally, most projects were taken on without considering their priority versus other initiatives, an awareness of the internal interdependencies they might impact, or the anticipated benefits they were expected to deliver.

Most importantly, very little consideration was given as to how new projects aligned with the overall strategy of the business. Projects were not planned consistently and lacked a transparent tracking capability to ensure the business was "doing the right projects" from a strategic standpoint.

As a result, MSHA needed an improved project intake process that prioritized the organization's human and capital investments based on its strategic objectives. This coupled with the on-going operational needs were diverting resources from initiatives that would deliver greater strategic value, generate higher financial ROI, or cover important operational or compliance requirements.

The Pcubed Solution

Pcubed was engaged by MSHA's IT organization to work with them to improve their resource demand and capacity planning and portfolio management capability, as well as enable these improvements by upgrading to the Microsoft Project Server 2010 technology solution.

First the team developed a portfolio intake and governance framework based on proven best practices to ensure all projects and programs considered in their portfolio were prioritized, selected, and governed in alignment with the organization's business strategy.

"[Pcubed] got us to our desired state much faster than we would have done with our own organic staff..."

"In my past experience in a former organization the transition from a non-managed resource portfolio to a fully managed resource system took 6-8 years. We always knew the value of doing it, just not the correct path. There was lots of trial and error, lots of adjustment. With Pcubed we got there in about six months."

- Paul Merrywell, Chief Information Officer, MSHA

Then Pcubed conducted portfolio optimization workshops to enable this governance process and the ability to measure the value of initiatives being considered. Regulatory, safety, compliance, and replacement projects were prioritized, while "new capability" projects were selected based on their strategic return.

To realize this improvement, Pcubed help put in place a business case discipline that created an effective prioritization of the programs and projects under consideration. This provided a "level playing field" for differentiating projects based on strategic or financial return. This discipline coupled with the implemented Microsoft PPM solution helped forge an effective governance process by ensuring the right data was available to facilitate good decision making.

Business Benefits

Pcubed helped MSHA make the transition from a non-managed project portfolio to a fully managed project portfolio that enabled effective resource demand and capacity management. Information System projects and programs are all now selected, prioritized, and planned in line with the organization's wider strategic objectives and resource capabilities.

Aside from unprecedented speed to value, Pcubed's Portfolio Management approach led to a large number of other tangible benefits for MSHA:

  • New capability projects are now prioritized on the basis of their value in terms of the organization's overall strategic business objectives and/or financial return;
  • Business cases now provide the consistent foundational information required to effectively prioritize and select projects;
  • All projects are now evaluated and compared using a standard set of criteria and with a clear understanding of the anticipated value as well as budget and resource requirements.

As MSHA's Chief Information Officer Paul Merrywell explains:

"By doing resource management well, we can now take on much more valuable activities. By very precisely describing the value and time a task will take and looking into the anticipated strategic return on our efforts, we can now better focus on those projects which are most beneficial in terms of strategic and economic value.

"Ultimately, this will mean what we're doing is what is best for our patients and the health of the local community in which our hospitals reside.""