Project management tools and project management offices

michelle

 

 

Michelle Griffiths
ITS Project Manager
IT Services
University of Oxford
Member of UCISA-PCMG

 

 

This Educause session presented by Randall Alberts, Assistant Director, Ringling College of Art and Design, was led as a discussion session, which was started off by all attendees logging onto a direct poll website and answering questions about their organization and what topics they would like to discuss during this morning’s session.

Randall told the group about the committee that he chaired, the Educause Project Management Constituent Group (PMCG) . The group brings together like minded people who have the same interests and areas of focus, sometimes referred to as “birds of a feather”. You can post questions to the group and get answers from your peers. This seems a very similar setup to the UCISA Project and Change Management Group. He also went onto say that they have monthly call-ins with guest presenters on various topics. The website contains past archive information so that you can tune in and watch past presenters.

The direct poll stated that the top topic that the group wanted to cover was project management tools.

Project management tools
Randall suggested that you must first start with pen and paper to define your user processes before you touch on tools. He stated that at his institution they use spreadsheets and share point. Each of their projects will have a share point site that they use as a document repository and to host project plans and schedule information.

The discussion was then opened up to the floor, and the following points were made:

  • Different departments tend to use different tools; it is difficult to get an institutional strategy rolled out so that they could all use common tools. People don’t tend to use the tool if it’s not in their culture.
  • Dynamics and Trello seem to be a commonly used combination of tool sets, along with Microsoft Project online and Office 365.
  • The culture of the Project Management is very important, along with resource allocation tools, which would prove to be very useful.
  • Plan view is another tool that was mentioned (resource & portfolio management tool, capacity planning, scorecards and dashboards)
  • Google Gantt was also mentioned.
  • If you want to roll out a project management office (PMO), you need full support from the CIO.
  • Timesheets are submitted on-line.
  • Service Now  was also mentioned, but with a caveat to say that there are better tools out there, such as Team Dynamix.
  • Tools are not just tools.

What defines a project?
Randall asked: “What defines a project?” The answer from the floor was that whatever is on the CIO goals list will be run. This is defined by a set of categories, which form the basis for project prioritisation. The group discussed categories of projects and what defines a small, medium and large/strategic project. A substantial project was seen as being more than 80 hours and consisting of cross-departmental working.  Returning to theme of what defines a project, Randall suggested that it could be defined as a “Temporary or new endeavour to deliver a service”.

Project management offices
The topic of discussion moved onto project management offices (PMOs), which resulted in the following points:

  • It is important to get buy in from the top when establishing and funding a PMO, difficult to justify the cost of setting it up and on-going.
  • Some institutions don’t call it a PMO as it is seen as a fashionable buzz word
  • Vendors can charge up to $175 per hour for a contract project manager who that essentially manages your internal project management. If the vendor thinks it’s important, then so should we!
  • Academic affairs don’t trust IT Services to manage their projects for them!
  • A lot of the time, IT Services is expected to fund business systems projects. Randall Alberts gave an example of one department that he loaned a server to, which they wanted to keep and use to host a critical worldwide deployed web site.
  • Project managers need to get involved on day one to gather requirements and start off on the right track.

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