The City of Birmingham Project Management Services

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The City of Birmingham is a municipal corporation in the state of Alabama.  Birmingham is the largest of 58 cities in the state boasting a population currently estimated at 212,237, and a metro population of 1,136,650. With 99 historic neighborhoods, Birmingham serves as a diverse community of advanced medical research and new technology innovation.  The City has a mayor/council form of government with a general fund annual budget of approximately $436 million dollars. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s priorities consist of revitalizing the City’s neighborhoods, making the City safer, improving education, improving transportation infrastructure and making the City more inclusive for all. In October 2018, the City of Birmingham’s Strategic Plan, The Woodfin Way (https://www.birminghamal.gov/strategy), was published. The plan outlined 92 specific initiatives covering 6 major goals that the Mayor and his administration tasked themselves to accomplish for the residents of Birmingham.

 

The Challenge

The challenge for the City of Birmingham was to align their strategic plan with standardized project management practices (methodology, tools, techniques) so that the goals and objectives of each strategic initiative could be tracked, monitored and accounted for by the impacted department and the initiative’s executive sponsor.  In the past, projects completed by the City of Birmingham did not follow a systematic set of processes that were predictable or consistent in execution. Since the strategic plan touched every department in the City, a centralized process was needed to add visibility and clarity to the way each strategic initiative would be accomplished and to avert the common pitfalls of implementing complex strategic plans.  Common pitfalls routinely occur when the following practices are not in place:

  • Strategic executive committee to prioritize, support and monitor plan initiatives
  • A standardized project management methodology to ensure consistency when implementing initiatives 
  • Standardized tools and templates to manage and control initiatives
  • Resource management to allocate resources based on capacity 
  • Project management oversight team to ensure adherence to the methodology 
  • Standardized communications and reporting to engage and inform stakeholders  

 

The Requirements

The City of Birmingham recognized that in order to succeed in meeting their strategic plan objectives, they needed to have standardized project management practices. The project management practices would have to align with the City’s culture and be easily adaptable by all stakeholders. Since execution time was a critical factor in the success of meeting some of the strategic objectives, a customized, easily adaptable solution had to be developed and approved in a short period of time. 



The Solution

iSeek Solutions (iSeek), a local, Birmingham-based consulting firm was selected to conduct a Project Management Maturity Assessment for the City of Birmingham. iSeek’s maturity assessment begins with Discovery. For the City of Birmingham, discovery entailed interviewing 19 distinct departments to understand and evaluate the type of project management practices being used. iSeek utilized their industry knowledge, experience and best practices to assist the City of Birmingham in completing this assessment. Drawing from the interview sessions, iSeek consultants analyzed data and documentation collected from department heads and team leaders outlining project management processes, tools and techniques currently utilized.  Considering the time factor, the discovery/interview process of all departments was completed in just 3 weeks.  

The Results

ISeek completed a Project Management Maturity Assessment for the City of Birmingham that analyzed 8 core project management process areas: Tools/Systems, Governance Process, Techniques, Back-office Integration, Resource Management, Health/Progress Reporting, Stakeholder Management, Key Benefit Realization. In the Tools/Systems portion of the assessment, iSeek utilized a 15-point review criteria of project management system/tools.  

As a result of the assessment, iSeek identified 60 best practice recommendations. From the 60, 6 key recommendations were extrapolated and presented for immediate consideration to support the successful execution of strategic initiatives.  iSeek’s recommendations were fully accepted by the Mayor and his Executive Leadership Team.

iSeek successfully implemented the following solutions for the City of Birmingham: 

  • Developed a customized City of Birmingham Project Management Methodology (bPMM) with standardized processes, tools and templates that enabled careful planning, execution and delivery of projects.
  • Chartered and formed a Strategic Project Management Office (SPMO) to administer the customized project management methodology, manage the project tracking tool and support City of Birmingham project managers. 
  • Developed a Project Governance Process (included in bPMM) for stakeholders to evaluate, decision, prioritize and approve projects to be initiated; to provide oversight of critical risk remediation, issue resolution and change management.
  • Developed a Benefits Tracking Process (included in bPMM) for tracking quantifiable benefits throughout the project duration – from beginning to completion and to ensure Strategic Plan objectives are realized.
  • Piloted and initiated procurement of a Project Tracking Tool to organize, structure and manage project tasks, assign resources and track timelines and to provide a portfolio analysis of project tasks, resources and timelines.  
  • Developed and delivered customized training to Project Managers, Champions and Sponsors from selected departments who have ownership of strategic initiatives and responsibilities for leading projects through the effective application of the bPMM.
  • Staffed the SPMO with a skilled Portfolio Manager to provide onsite coaching, ongoing training and instruction on bPMM execution and adherence. 

The project management solutions that were developed, deployed and managed by iSeek has catapulted the City of Birmingham’s ability to successfully execute their strategic initiatives. 

 

“It takes more than raw will to make things happens, so we partnered with iSeek to develop an easy to understand, efficient, consistent & implementable project management methodology.”

Ed Fields, Senior Advisor & Chief Strategist, City of Birmingham

Click here to hear directly from Ed Fields about the value iSeek brought to the City of Birmingham.  

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