Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a nonprofit organization founded in 1977, engages in ongoing, supportive relationships with more than 3,000 partnering school districts and education agencies throughout the U.S. NWEA provides products and services that measure and promote academic student growth and school improvement. These include accurate assessments, timely reporting, practical classroom resources and ongoing, professional development. NWEA, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, has regional offices in Indiana and Texas.

In the past, NWEA engaged in “passion-based” project selection and experienced the collision of resources and processes in various work efforts. The organization needed to move from project-focused activity to portfolio management. Portfolio Intelligence from 3 Olive Solutions, LLC was chosen for several reasons:

  • The marketing demo was detailed and informative,
  • The tool - a hosted software as a service (SaaS) solution - could be easily accessed via any Internet connection and
  • It offered a way to score, prioritize, select and communicate the work of the entire organization.

NWEA has used the product for a year and recognizes its undeniable value. The software is administered by the project management office (PMO). Users are project managers, business analysts and senior executives. A senior project manager configured the NWEA-specific settings in Portfolio Intelligence, including resource lists, user permissions and group codes. Initial configuration took less than two days, and the system was populated with working data in a week.
Soon after implementation, requests were submitted from every team in the organization. Executives were then able to easily view a list of potential projects and initiatives via the tool or directly exported data. The scoring capability, in which executives are able to score projects on concepts such as organizational critical success factors, contributes to conversations regarding the quantification and prioritization of work.

NWEA licenses 20 Portfolio Intelligence users. Licensed users were given demos of the software and basic training for entering information regarding projects and work initiatives into the system. Because of the intuitive nature of the software and the clarity of the online tutorials, in-depth training was not needed.

The PMO maps project management lifecycle (PMLC) processes to the phases - request, pipeline, project, measure - in Portfolio Intelligence. PMLC artifacts, such as project charters and fulfillment documents, manage the movement of work through the phases in Portfolio Intelligence. Due to the visibility, communication and success of this implementation, other organizational work is being added to Portfolio Intelligence, including requests for analysis, product management development, software change requests (SCR), requests for proposals (RFPs) and business development opportunities.

Portfolio Intelligence was successfully implemented due to four main factors:

  • The appropriateness of the tool for the organization’s need,
  • Outstanding responsive customer service from 3 Olive Solutions,
  • A small, knowledgeable internal team at NWEA committed to bringing this resource onboard and
  • The intentional implementation of Portfolio Intelligence as a portfolio management tool, not a project tracking tool.

Portfolio Intelligence was intended to directly inform the PMO and senior executives, not the entire organization. Organization-wide communication may be informed by the data housed in Portfolio Intelligence, but is distributed via other tools.
Due to the implementation of Portfolio Intelligence, critical data about NWEA’s portfolio of work is now readily accessible. Supporting detail is presented through a variety of visually intuitive displays and may be quickly and easily accessed through the individual user interface. Each week, the PMO generates a portfolio management report for executive leadership using the comprehensive Portfolio Intelligence query function. Executives have indicated this report is highly useful to them; it provides real-time, up-to-date information on current work, as well as visibility into future work.

For a small initial investment and effort, Portfolio Intelligence has made a substantial impact by guiding and accelerating organizational work, creating laser-like focus and providing the beginnings of governance.

About 3 Olive Solutions: 3 Olive Solutions, LLC is the developer of Portfolio Intelligence, an on-demand project portfolio management solution that allows users to organize, control and communicate the benefits of work efforts simply and effectively. Portfolio Intelligence includes unique functionality to make better decisions, increase resource utilizations and manage projects based on business value.

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