Driving priorities: IT Governance gains speed with state and local clients

If you’re a public sector CIO, knowing how your IT priorities line up with your budget is a necessity. And in the post-Recovery Act world, having access to accurate spending data is more than just a smart business decision – it’s the law.

Industry observers and major software players are expecting 2009 to be a big year for Project Portfolio Management (PPM) applications. “IT departments are being much more diligent about spending, and this type of technology can help IT plan better and spend smarter.” Evelyn Hubbert, senior analyst at Forrester Research said in a recent Network World article about the emergence of Project Portfolio Management software. And one San Francisco-based company is positioning itself to bring its on-demand version of the software to state and local IT departments nationwide.

Innotas is a leader in PPM software, and the exclusive provider of on-demand IT Governance. Innotas’ IT dashboards manage budgets and resources across an IT department’s inventory of projects, portfolios, applications assets, and service requests. Current Innotas clients include Tacoma, Wash., Memphis, Tenn., the State of Alaska and, most recently, Jefferson Co., Colorado. Innotas CEO Keith Carlson spoke with CivSource this week about their software, where the company sits in the marketplace and where they plan on going in the future.

According to Mr. Carlson, Innotas sits in a space traditionally occupied by Hewlett-Packard, CA and Oracle. But Innotas has carved out a niche based on a mantra of quick implementation, low costs and streamlined outcomes. In fact, this niche has worked out well for Innotas as their year-over-year numbers for the last fiscal quarter was up 30-40 percent – in a recession.

“Our biggest growth area is state and local governments – we’ve seen tremendous growth during Q1 and Q2 of this year, both of which saw over 30 percent of our revenue coming from state and local government deals,” Carlson said. “And we expect next quarter’s numbers to be even higher than that.”

For Innotas, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been an important factor in two ways: money is beginning to flow towards state and local IT departments, and the addition of new reporting and transparency requirements. Both scenarios bode well for the company, Carlson says.

“We’re paying significant attention to the Recovery Act. With ARRA money comes a significant amount of reporting and transparency requirements – in terms of jobs created, jobs retained, number projects delivered on time, budget use – it plays very well into what we’re already providing to clients,” according to Mr. Carlson.

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Innotas on-demand IT Governance provides a range of project portfolio management

But perhaps just as beneficial for Innotas, Carlson says, is the direct and indirect infusion of stimulus money to IT departments across the country. “Stimulus moneys have been slow to come down – I think were just beginning to see the tip of the stimulus iceberg.” But since Innotas is focused on IT, they benefit from dollars received specifically for the IT department, as well as for any department that wants to implement information technology in their projects. In fact, its part of a natural growth strategy called “land and expand,” Carlson says.

If a customer’s transportation department has projects they need tracking and portfolio management for, “we see our solution expand from IT to other departments,” Carlson said, owing this significant growth strategy to the solution’s deployment speed and ease of implementation. “We’re not directly marketing to other departments, but nearly 30 percent of our customer growth comes from expanded use.”

Perhaps the most valuable asset of having the complete package – the real-time reporting, resource scheduling and tracking, budget monitoring – is that it allows stakeholders to connect the dots, to see what constraints are limiting time and money, and to see where problem areas exist.

“Our tool really allows agencies to collaborate and make decisions in the benefit of whole,” Mr. Carlson concluded.

IT Dashboards for the rest of us: screen shots of on-demand IT Governance by Innotas

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The Innotas solution provides a single view for an IT department’s many stakeholders to prioritize and make hard decisions in a fair way, Carlson said.

“There is $3.4 trillion spending annually on IT projects – the category we’re in PPM – a billion dollar category in its own right,” Carlson said. PPM is growing, it’s the 2nd fastest category according to Gartne

“There is $3.4 trillion spending annually on IT projects – the category we’re in PPM – a billion dollar category in its own right,” Carlson said. PPM is growing, it’s the 2nd fastest category according to Gartner.

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“The average public sector IT Department is usually much bigger than the average enterprise IT department – they usually have more clients and more projects to manage,” Carlson said. In one example, Mr. Carlson mentioned Tacoma, Washington and their IT Department’s twenty-five different customers. “They had to work with the city’s water department, fire department, utilities, administration department and so on. Every one of those departments had initiatives they wanted done by the IT group and through Innotas’ IT Governance, the Tacoma IT Department was able to show their clients which projects were at the top of the list and why.”