Joel Verinder, PMP, Texas Health Resources,
Arlington, Texas, USA
A New Prescription
>> As the PMO,
to the executive
decision makers. This information validates
that the portfolio
is aligned with
direction of the
leaders to truly
run IT like a
SOME PROJECTS just
shouldn’t make the cut, especially in an industry facing
severe financial restraints. But
at Texas Health Resources,
every project requested of
the IT department was
approved—until Joel Verinder,
PMP, stepped in as portfolio
management office director.
Leveraging experience gained across sectors ranging from airlines to telecom, he has transformed the
existing portfolio management office (PMO) into
a business-driven one aimed squarely at helping
ensure each of the not-for-profit’s 14 hospitals benefits from the organization’s limited IT resources.
How has the organization’s approach to portfolio
The PMO’s initial charter focused on people,
process and tools, but the executive leadership
wanted increased adoption and business value.
When I came in, I swung it around to focus on
business needs first, and figure out how project
management processes and templates can help
solve problems. We got some quick wins early
on, which helped us gain momentum. Eventually
we evolved to focus on resource planning and
Why did the PMO focus on resource planning?
Texas Health supports 14 hospitals with a centralized PMO and a single IT group with 575 people.
There’s always a big need for our services, and we
were often overwhelmed with requests. The IT
team members had developed a “just get it done”
mentality, and they didn’t feel like they had a
voice. It caused us to start asking questions about
whether we were working on the right projects and
whether we could do a better job.
We worked with the IT governance team to
create a prioritization model, which included the
refinement of a strategic IT council. The council
includes an executive representative from each hospital, along with several physicians, and a few other
IT representatives to provide technical direction
and answer questions.
Now, the council considers every project proposal and ranks it against the current portfolio and
existing resource constraints. The PMO also presents monthly data to the council about resource
availability. Before a project is approved, business
owners must bring their case to the council and
be able to define the anticipated ROI, whether it’s
financial, regulatory or patient safety. Every business case is expected to have metrics to define success. And six to nine months after implementation,
business owners must report back on the results to
What kinds of results have you seen?
Today, we support 85 projects, and overall IT
morale has improved. But it took some time. In
the first couple of council sessions, it was a struggle
to prioritize projects. Eventually, with all the talk
about healthcare reform and new reimbursement
models, people started to understand the resource
constraints we face.
We’re taking a more holistic systems approach,
with the goal of meeting the needs of all the hospitals in the network. And because business owners
are now presenting project results to the council,
it gave visibility to some of the small projects that
have delivered tremendous ROI.
What lessons have you learned that might benefit
other PMO leaders?
The most important aspect of project management
revolves around change management and how you
communicate that change to your stakeholders and
project teams. If you can’t translate your vision to
the organization, that’s a risk. And if the business
owners don’t see value in what you are doing, you
won’t exist for long.