Follow-up Review on Project Management and Oversight

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Official title: Follow-up Review on Project Management and Oversight.

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Acronyms used in this report

CMLOR
Change Management Leader Organizational Readiness
DAC
Departmental Audit Committee
DGPOC
Director General Project Oversight Committee
EARB
Enterprise Architecture Review Board
EPMO
Enterprise Project Management Office
ESDC
Employment and Social Development Canada
IA
Internal Audit
MAP
Management Action Plan
MPIB
Major Projects and Investments Board
PDO
Project Delivery Office
PMA
Project Management Advisor
PMCD
Project Management Competency Development
PMIS
Project Management Information Solutions
PMO
Project Management Office
PPMF
Project Program Management Framework
PPPM
Policy Program and Project Management
QA
Quality Advisor
TISMB
Transformation and Integrated Service Management Branch

1. Background

1.1 Context

Project management is the systematic planning, organizing, monitoring and controlling of allocated resources to accomplish identified project objectives and outcomes. It differs from operations as it is non-repetitive, time limited and renders a specific product or service. Effective project management is key to providing value for money and demonstrating strong stewardship in project delivery.

In recent years, project management was identified and acknowledged as a high-risk area within Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s corporate risk profile, and branches recognized project management as one of their top learning needs.

In 2014 to 2015, ESDC adopted the Treasury Board Project Management Framework to improve its project management maturity and capacity, including the development of its project management related processes; formalization of accountabilities, roles and responsibilities for key project stakeholders; and the establishment of the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) mandate.

Internal Audit (IA) of ESDC conducted a review of Project Management and Oversight within the Department in 2017. The report was tabled to the Departmental Audit Committee (DAC) in November 2017. At the time of presentation to the DAC, senior management requested that IA conducts a follow-up review in 12 months, to assess the progress made towards the implementation of the approved Management Action Plan (MAP).

1.2 Review objectives

The objectives of the follow-up review were to:

1.3 Scope

The scope of this follow-up review included a horizontal assessment of project management processes, practices and an assessment of individual projects. The scope also included a review of a sample of both completed and in-flight projects. In addition, we reviewed to what extent the approved MAP was implemented.

1.4 Methodology

This follow-up review was conducted using a number of methodologies and techniques which have included (but are not limited to):

2. Review findings

2.1 Clear criteria and definitions for both “projects” and “initiatives” across the Department have been drafted

Recommendation 1 from the 2017 Review of Project Management and Oversight

Develop and communicate clear criteria and definitions for both “Projects” and “Initiatives” across the Department.

Management Response

Management agrees with the recommendation. There is an opportunity to clearly define and communicate the definition and criteria to appropriately classify projects and initiatives. Management anticipates the work to be completed by March 2018.

Status

Past original target completion date (March 2018). This item is in the process of being approved by management.

Through interviews and documentation reviews, IA has noted the following areas of strength with respect to the development and implementation of clear criteria and definitions for both projects and initiatives:

Work has begun on the criteria for initiatives and projects, the outcome will provide a clear definition or criteria for both projects and initiatives to ensure proper rigour and oversight.

IA encourages EPMO to continue with the revision and update of scheduled MAP activities.

2.2 Boundaries of Project Program Management Framework have been expanded beyond the portfolio of investment projects to capture and govern other key initiatives within the Department

Recommendation 2 from the 2017 Review of Project Management and Oversight

Expand the boundaries of the Project Program Management Framework (PPMF) beyond the portfolio of investment projects, to capture and govern all projects within ESDC.

Management Response

Management agrees with the recommendation. There is an opportunity to expand the boundaries of the Project Program Management Practice to capture and govern all projects and key initiatives within ESDC. This will enhance our ability to deliver benefits while minimizing risk for all projects and key initiatives. A risk-based approach will be implemented to ensure that senior management governance remains focused on projects and initiatives of higher risk and materiality. Management anticipates the work to be completed by October 2018.

Status

Past original target completion date (October 2018). This item has now been completed.

IA observed that progress has been made to ensure key initiatives are included in the EPMO’s inventory of supported projects and initiatives. Specifically, departmental initiatives (tied to the strategic priorities) have been mapped to investment projects.

IA noted the following areas for improvement with respect to the expansion of the PPMF beyond the portfolio of investment projects:

2.3 Project management processes to allow for a scalable approach have been drafted

Recommendation 3 from the 2017 Review of Project Management and Oversight

Modify some of the project management processes to allow for a scalable approach to planning and executing simple or low value projects. Many organizations refer to this scalable methodology as “Project Management Lite”.

Management Response

Management agrees with the recommendation. It is important to note that scalability is an intrinsic component of the existing Project Program Management Practice as projects are classified into small, minor, or major projects. There is an opportunity to apply a risk-based approach to scale the existing Project Program Management Practice to expedite the planning and execution of low-risk projects. There are current activities underway in collaboration with the Innovation, Information and Technology Branch, to implement a practical approach for the management of lite (small) projects. Management anticipates the work to be completed by April 2019.

Status

Forecasted target completion date (April 2019), this item is still in progress.

Through interviews and documentation reviews, IA has noted the following areas of strength with respect to the design and implementation of scalable processes for project management:

However, IA also noted the following areas for improvement with respect to the design and implementation of scalable project management processes:

IA encourages EPMO to continue with the revision and update of scheduled MAP activities and to further expand the current quality assurance to a project quality management system.

2.4 Progress has been achieved with respect to improving the baseline knowledge of project management

Recommendation 4 from the 2017 Review of Project Management and Oversight

Develop a baseline of knowledge across management with respect to the value and core principles of project management. This could be achieved through the development and delivery of mandatory awareness training for all executive level positions.

Management Response

Management agrees with the recommendation. There is an opportunity to increase project performance and enhance project management knowledge and capability by ensuring a consistent baseline of knowledge across all project management resources (sponsors, project managers, and project staff). Currently, there are activities underway to increase the baseline knowledge of project management resources including the Project Management Competency Development (PMCD) Framework and project management training courses. Management anticipates the work to be completed by September 2018.

Status

Past original target completion date (September 2018). This item is still in progress.

Through interviews and documentation reviews, IA has noted the following areas of strength with respect to the project management knowledge across management:

However, IA also noted the following area for improvement with respect to project management knowledge across management:

IA encourages EPMO to continue with the revision and update of scheduled MAP activities

2.5 A comprehensive training and skills framework to build upon the training content and skills matrix has been established

Recommendation 5 from the 2017 Review of Project Management and Oversight

Establish a comprehensive training and skills framework that builds upon the training content and skills matrix that has already been developed.

Management Response

Management agrees with the recommendation. It is important to note that a detailed project management training curriculum is in place and utilized by project management resources. There are activities currently underway to enhance project management knowledge and capabilities including the PMCD Framework and project management training courses. Management anticipates the work to be completed by September 2018.

Status

Past original target completion date (September 2018). This item has now been completed.

Through interviews and documentation reviews, IA has noted the following areas of strength with respect to developing a comprehensive project management training and skills framework:

2.6 Controls to prohibit unskilled or untrained project resources from assuming responsibility or accountability for project management functions have been established

Recommendation 6 from the 2017 Review of Project Management and Oversight

Put in place controls to prohibit unskilled or untrained project resources from assuming responsibility or accountability for project management functions.

Management Response

Management agrees with the recommendation. There is an opportunity to increase project performance by implementing additional controls to prevent unskilled/untrained project management resources from assuming responsibility/accountability for project management functions. Effective sponsorship and additional monitoring are required to ensure compliance to the new control. Management anticipates the work to be completed by April 2019.

Status

Forecasted target completion date (April 2019), this item has now been completed.

Through interviews and documentation reviews, IA has noted the following areas of strength with respect to management developing and implementing controls to prohibit unskilled or untrained project resources from assuming responsibility or accountability for project management:

2.7 Role and mandate of change management leader organizational readiness has not been officially supported by management

Recommendation 7 from the 2017 Review of Project Management and Oversight

Develop change management impact assessments and communications plans for all significant projects within ESDC to ensure support and expediency, as well as to minimize impacts when implementing changes.

Management Response

Management agrees with the recommendation. Currently, the project program management practice includes the requirement for change management and communications across various project stages. There is an opportunity to enhance the application of these existing practices by the project teams to reduce risks during project implementation and the transition of the project activities into operations. Effective sponsorship and additional monitoring are required to ensure that effective change management and communications occur on a consistent basis. Management anticipates the work to be completed by April 2019.

Status

Forecasted target completion date (April 2019), this item is still in progress.

Through interviews and documentation reviews, IA noted the following areas of strength with respect to change management best practices:

However, IA also noted the following areas for improvement with respect to change management:

2.8 Governance

Progress has been made to ensure key initiatives are included in the EPMO’s inventory of supported projects and initiatives. Specifically, departmental initiatives (tied to the strategic priorities) have been mapped to investment projects.

IA anticipated that a single governance structure would manage and oversee the processes in place for project management, including change management. However, there are currently multiple management groups within ESDC that provide guidance and oversight on project management. For example, TISMB is responsible for overseeing transformative projects through a Project Delivery Office (PDO), while EPMO has responsibility for overseeing the entire ESDC project portfolio. As a result, projects may be faced with numerous levels of similar oversight and guidance. Interviewees also indicated that transformation is not consistently understood by different management groups (branch level and committees).

ESDC branches have the ability to create independent Project Management Offices (PMOs) or PDO s in addition to the existing EPMO. During interviews, project managers expressed concerns with the need for multiple reviews that resulted in comments relating to project documentation and rework, as both their respective branch PDO and the EPMO would provide feedback. A Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed chart is being developed by EPMO to attempt to clarify accountabilities and responsibilities that currently exist amongst PMOs, PDOs and the EPMO.

IA encourages EPMO to have a single point of expertise for project management to guide both the governance of MPIB and non-MPIB activities. Non-MPIB activities include project management governance items from the Enterprise Architecture Review Board (EARB), TISMB, Shared Services Canada, etc.

2.9 Benefits Management Framework and quality assurance

The Benefits Directive has been developed. Multiple internal consultation activities between governance committees and project managers have taken place. It was noted that reaching an agreement between governance parties has been a challenge and has resulted in approval delays for the Directive. As a result, the Benefits Directive has not yet been approved or deployed as originally planned for June 2017. However, the Directive was approved on March 8, 2019.

Some elements of a project management quality system are in place including a quality assurance function. This is significant progress towards further maturing the EPMO project management processes. IA noted the following areas for improvement with respect to the quality assurance support provided by EPMO:

Beyond a quality assurance function, other elements of a project management quality system that would further improve the quality processes may include items such as continuous improvement and knowledge transfer throughout the project lifecycle.

3. Conclusion

Three out of seven actions included in the MAP related to the 2017 Review on the Project Management and Oversight have been completed. Four out of seven have been partially implemented. Refer to Appendix B which outlines progress made against each action identified in the approved MAP.

With respect to governance, the Department has made progress in broadening project management boundaries beyond investment projects and adopting change management best practices. Further support from management and efforts are required for continuing improvement.

The Benefits Management Directive has been developed and approved in March 2019. A quality assurance function has been implemented and illustrates further maturity to the EPMO processes. The project quality management function with further strengthening would address other attributes such as continuous improvement and prevention over inspection.

4. Statement of assurance

In our professional judgement, sufficient and appropriate review procedures were performed, and evidence gathered to support the accuracy of the conclusions reached and contained in this report. The conclusions are based on observations and analyses at the time of our review. The conclusions are applicable only for the Follow-up Review on the Project Management and Oversight. The evidence was gathered in accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit and the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

Appendix A: Review criteria assessment

Review Criteria

It was anticipated that the Department would have further matured the project management governance in the following areas:

Rating: Sufficiently controlled; low-risk exposure

Review Criteria

It was anticipated that the Department would have further matured the project management governance in the following areas:

Rating: Controlled, but should be strengthened; medium-risk exposure.

Review Criteria

It was anticipated that the Department would have implemented the Benefits Management Framework and the quality assurance, and these would be operating as intended.

Rating: Controlled, but should be strengthened; medium-risk exposure

Review Criteria

It was anticipated that the Department would have undertaken the actions addressing all recommendations from the Review of Project Management and Oversight and meeting the targeted deadlines for implementation.

Rating: Controlled, but should be strengthened; medium-risk exposure

Appendix B: Progress made vis-à-vis the actions identified in the approved management action plan

Recommendations 

1. Develop and communicate clear criteria and definitions for both “projects” and “initiatives” across the Department.

Follow-up review findings / status: Definitions for both “projects” and “initiatives” have been developed and are in the process of being approved by management (in other words, DGPOC and MPIB).

Office of primary / secondary interest: EPMO/Strategic and Service Policy Branch

Rating: Past original target completion date, this item is still in progress

Recommendations

2. Expand the boundaries of the PPMF beyond the portfolio of investment projects, to capture and govern all projects within ESDC.

Follow-up review findings / status: This item has been addressed. The boundaries of the project and program management practice have been expanded beyond the portfolio of investment projects to capture and govern all projects within ESDC.

Office of primary / secondary interest: EPMO/ Strategic and Service Policy Branch

Rating: This item has now been completed.

Recommendations

3. Modify some of the project management processes to allow for a scalable approach to planning and executing simple or low value projects. Many organizations refer to this scalable methodology as “Project Management Lite”.

Follow-up review findings / status: Progress has been made with this item. A draft definition of scalability was presented to DGPOC in February 2019 and is scheduled for review and approval by MPIB in April 2019.

Office of primary / secondary interest: EPMO

Rating: Past original target completion date, this item is still in progress

Recommendations

4. Develop a baseline of knowledge across management with respect to the value and core principles of project management. This could be achieved through the development and delivery of mandatory awareness training for all executive level positions.

Follow-up review findings / status: A certification program has been developed to ensure that all project management resources have a baseline knowledge by taking a prerequisite course before giving access to PMIS.

Interviewees indicated that current curriculums are being reviewed and revised by EPMO.

Office of primary / secondary interest: EPMO/Human Resources Services Branch

Rating: Past original target completion date, this item is still in progress.

Recommendations

5. Establish a comprehensive training and skills framework that builds upon the training content and skills matrix that has already been developed.

Follow-up review findings / status: A competency framework directive has been developed and approved in March 2019.

In addition to this, EPMO has developed the training curriculum which was completed mid-February 2019. It is anticipated that training curriculum will be deployed on April 1, 2019.

EPMO is in the process of assessing all project managers education and experience to determine training specific requirements.

Office of primary / secondary interest: EPMO/Human Resources Services Branch

Rating: This item has now been completed.

Recommendations

6. Put in place controls to prohibit unskilled or untrained project resources from assuming responsibility or accountability for project management functions.

Follow-up review findings / status: A certification program has been developed to ensure that all project management resources have a baseline knowledge by taking a prerequisite course before being provided access to PMIS.

Office of primary / secondary interest: EPMO/Human Resources Services Branch

Rating: This item has now been completed.

Recommendations

7. Develop change management impact assessments and communications plans for all significant projects within ESDC to ensure support and expediency, as well as to minimize impacts when implementing changes.

Follow-up review findings / status: Substantial progress has been made by TISMB to prioritize enterprise wide project focus towards organizational change management.

Although effort has been made within ESDC to promote change management practices within project management, the role of CMLOR remains undefined and unclear within the organization.

Office of primary / secondary interest: EPMO/TISMB

Rating: Past original target completion date, this item is still in progress.

Appendix C: Summary of testing results

A sample of 10 project files were selected for review and assessment. As described in the Project Governance Framework, several artefacts (mandatory project documentation) are required throughout the project management lifecycle. Through sample testing of project files, the following was noted:

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