Defra goes custom to manage projects


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has commissioned a custom configured project portfolio management system to measure the strategic value of its public projects.

The new software used to create the system will track a diverse short and long-term portfolio of some 600 projects and activities, including flood management, fuel poverty and environmental initiatives that are worth 4 billion.

The system will provide an objective visual overview of each project's overall contribution to strategic goals, based upon numerical and qualitative data to help manage the prioritisation of Defra's overall project funding and support.

Chris Hix, head of finance for climate change at Defra said: "The department deals with crises such as animal disease emergencies and floods, but also has long-term commitments including the objective of climate change mitigation and adaptation."

He explained: "The department must balance multiple and diverse priorities whilst also taking into account ministerial, legislative and European Union requirements. We therefore need a tool to support strategic decision-making."

Defra is using GenSight enterprise portfolio management software in its new project portfolio system, which provides advanced web-based reporting that uses graphical, numerical and tabular displays to provide analysis and reporting on key performance metrics based on a Defra-developed scoring system.

The system has been designed to highlight projects that offer significant benefit across multiple strategic goals and assess the probability of their success. GenSight also analyses resource allocation and spending and provides a prioritisation-based approach to budget allocation.

Hix added that prioritisation and criteria based decision-making would help create consensus on the strategic level of contribution of each activity. "We are looking at the contribution of individual projects and also assessing the full portfolio of the department," he said.

The new system forms part of the 18-month-old Renew Defra programme, aimed at transforming the government department's business processes to make it effective, responsive and accountable.

One of the Renew objectives is to match the prioritisation of activities to the overall level of resource, replacing Defra's previous silo-based funding system and helping to demonstrate taxpayer value more clearly.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.