It’s a commonly-used process, and yet so few manage to execute it effectively on a consistent basis. Capital Planning Investment Control (CPIC), if performed as intended, provides a strategy for capital planning that enables organizations to demonstrate and maximize value from scarce public resources. With the current funding environment, CPIC is ever-more important as a framework for agencies to defend their capital investments through sound OMB Budget Exhibit 300 “business cases.”
The pathway to success in CPIC implementation is based on teams that are cross-trained in various disciplines, such as strategic planning, budget and finance, program management, contracting and IT. The team should also have experience and expertise in the relatively softer skills of (cross-organization) collaboration, communication and creativity. Here are the reasons why a successful CPIC process with this key ingredient of a cross-functional team is so important.
Why CPIC Matters
The CPIC framework was conceptualized to facilitate strategic and operational planning, leading to acquisition and management of large capital investments. The CPIC process produces a capital investment portfolio consisting of a collection of exhibits 300 and 53 or “business cases,” which is incorporated into the federal budget submitted to Congress each year. The current funding environment dictates that scrutiny for these business cases will continue to increase. Therefore, it is important the business case is prepared with due diligence and rigor, along with ample justification for the value of investments and portfolios to stakeholders and overseers.
To date, most formal internal CPIC support teams that create portfolios and business cases have evolved into a non-interdisciplinary group of specialists. Applying a novel, interdisciplinary team approach in performing quality control of the business cases and supporting the CPIC process can lead to breakthrough results. Imagine a team that can synthesize broad perspectives, knowledge, skills and interconnections in an IPT setting. These teams could help an organization generate portfolios that score relatively high by communicating mission and economic value clearly. Further, it could boost the chances of the portfolios and investments withstanding budget pressures.
Cross-Training Ensures Thorough CPIC Review
When considering how to communicate the value of a business case externally, it’s important to use an intra-organizational cross-functional team and process that leverages best practices in rationalizing your portfolio. This enables you to show you are not only “doing things right,” but also “doing the right things” regarding your investments. Appropriate levels of internal control from team members should result from cross-functional training, ensuring:
- Selection of meaningful criteria to evaluate the business cases,
- Business cases that meet all of the criteria for quality, and
- Business cases and a portfolio that tell a compelling a story through complete, consistent, and accurate documentation.
How to Take an Interdisciplinary Approach
So how do you go about achieving a holistic portfolio and business case?
- Assemble an interdisciplinary CPIC team, considering the scope and scale of the portfolio. Because portfolios and business cases include sections that address a range of functional disciplines, and much of the information in the sections is intertwined, the importance of telling a coherent and mutually supportive story with the business case demands an interdisciplinary team with cross-trained members.
- Ensure people are cross-trained so they can create a platform or CPIC knowledge repository to reference during the CPIC cycle. It also facilitates more holistic thinking and increases the ability of the team members to see each other’s perspectives related to the business case. This can lead to more complete, speedier decisions.
- Link functions and organizations throughout an enterprise. More general areas of strategic planning, requirements, resourcing and acquisition are linked with the more specific areas such as enterprise architecture, IT security and privacy. A team that is cross-trained and experienced in many of those areas can more efficiently produce complete and accurate business cases needed for expedited, informed decision making.
The Evidence to Prove the Case
Integrity has seen the success stories behind these interdisciplinary teams in their ability to produce, defensible business cases that have scored high against pre-defined criteria set by overseers. For example, we partnered with our client to shed the “business as usual approach” and apply a novel approach of “forming, storming, norming and performing” a cross-functional CPIC support team. After prototyping the team and then developing it iteratively, it evolved to be instrumental in transforming the agency’s CPIC posture, from a side issue to a stand-out feature achieving the highest-rated CPIC portfolio in a major federal department in three consecutive years – a department first.
In today’s climate of skepticism and congressional hesitance to jump full force into significant investments, cross-functional and interdisciplinary CPIC support teams can be the answer to a call for increased efficiency, holistic thinking, multi-disciplinary knowledge and coherence in the creation of the business case.
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