Tag Archives: change management

Lean in Higher Education conference – key learning

Marion Malcolm
Business Improvement Team Lead
University of Aberdeen

Australasian Lean HE Conference 2017, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

Marion Malcolm was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

In November, I was able to attend the Australasian Lean HE Conference, courtesy of a UCISA bursary. I had a range of key objectives for attending the conference, one of which involved networking with practitioners from across the globe. The 150 delegates at the conference came from across Australia, Asia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.

My key learning points from attending the conference were:

I will be blogging further about the event including what my key next steps will be, and further information on my presentation on ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’.

PPM as change agents

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

 

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Guest Keynote

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

I will be blogging on specific Summit sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

How PPM professionals need to embrace the digital

I really liked Jonathan MacDonald’s vibrant entrance on stage. Founder of the Thought Expansion Network, he delivered his talk with immense energy and the music captured the audience’s attention and thoughts immediately. He was able to relay that PPM professionals need to embrace the digital changes and how we think and react will determine our future. He stated that ‘Success is response dependent, not size dependent’.

Jonathan provided examples of wireless in households, message apps and the e-commerce sales making huge shifts in growth, changing how we do business. We must all accept the changes as change agents, otherwise we will fail.

Jonathan worked on an analogy of a big oil tanker and a speed boat both needing to be fuelled, navigated and translated. In my opinion, we need to take responsibility and manage the relationships involving how senior stakeholders handle certainty versus uncertainty. The term ‘fuelled’ was used in the analogy. I think that regardless of the size of the business, they still need to continue to exist and be ‘navigated’, that is providing leadership and direction to the workforce whilst taking risks.  Finally, the term ‘translated’ was used, and in my view, this could be ways of communication so that the ‘oil tanker or boat’ does not crash or stray.  Typically, in business the same would be keeping the stakeholders informed and providing them with choices.

Jonathan is an extremely effective speaker who ended his talk with a statement about ‘Risk Of Inaction’.

In my view, this had two meanings: a) we must do something as not doing anything is no longer an option and b) the initial caps of each word forms ROI which means, Return On Investment, therefore activity in business is important for gain profits.

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Conference objectives for a Lean international event

Marion Malcolm
Business Improvement Team Lead
University of Aberdeen

Australasian Lean HE Conference 2017, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

Marion Malcolm was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

As a result of a successful UCISA bursary application, I was able to attend the Australasian Lean HE Conference in 2017. I also presented at the event on ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’.

My conference objectives were to:

  • Network with practitioners from across the globe who have developed Lean initiatives
  • Share knowledge and form collaborative partnerships
  • Find out how universities and colleges are engaging employees and achieving measureable and cultural changes
  • Understand how Lean has been implemented, what buy in, senior leadership and support was required for implementation, and what lessons were learned
  • Understand how to measure, demonstrate, and report benefits following implementation of new process improvements, to ensure continuous improvement
  • Learn how Lean is used by industry and how these practices can be adapted to HE
  • Engage in interactive workshops, panels and sessions to find answers to questions and challenges.

150 delegates attended the event from Australia, Asia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.  Some of the keynote speakers with inspirational messages at the event were:

I will be blogging further about the event including areas of key learning, key next steps, and further information on my presentation on ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’.

 

PPM in the digital age at Gartner’s Program and Portfolio Management Summit


Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

 

Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017 – Setting the scene

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017. The conference was titled ‘Driving Innovation at the Speed of Business’ and the agenda primarily focused on ‘Results-driven [Project Portfolio Management] PPM: Leading Change and Delivering Value in the Digital Age’. The attendees were from all business sectors both nationally and globally. I was surprised by the scale and the 106 sessions that were offered. These were based around four theme tracks: ‘Transformation Gets Real’, ‘Agile Business Impacts’, ‘The Changing Program & Portfolio Management Ecosystem’ and ‘Empowering People’, together with vendor run or assisted sessions. Throughout the event, I shared information with the community on #GartnerPPM, @UCISA, @bruneluni, @HinaTaank  and @UCISA_PCMG

I am grateful to Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA) having successfully won and was awarded a bursary through their bursary scheme to attend the event. I am also grateful to Brunel University London and the Information Services for allowing me the time to attend the conference.

I had always wanted to attend a Gartner event as it is one of the world’s leading research and advisory companies. The event allowed me to learn about the trends around the Program Portfolio Management (PPM) space, together with lots of tips and actions on how I can make a difference in my job.  I am therefore grateful to Gartner for organising this event for like-minded people to learn and network.

 

 

 

 

 

I will be blogging on specific sessions, but some of the useful events outside the keynotes and workshops were as follows:

Orientation session for first-time attendees: how to get the most out of your conference attendance

Andrea White started the event for first timers to a Gartner event and briefed the group on how to make the most of the two days. Help was available via a helpdesk, appointments could be made to meet Gartner Analysts and the most useful was the Gartner Events Navigator. The Navigator app was widely used as it provided real-time information on all the sessions, (even those cancelled or replaced), session attendees, speakers and exhibitors. It also provided an area with personal agenda, notes and highlighted the exclusive sessions primarily for C-suit attendees.

Networking lunch

Over lunch, I really enjoyed networking with people with similar issues and problems, nationally and globally. It almost felt like a speed meeting.

Evening networking reception hosted by the showcase suppliers

The evening reception was hosted by the showcase suppliers and they did a grand job by providing a variety of food and drinks. I was treated to some lovely vegetarian food by one of the vendors. Importantly, it allowed me to further network and speak with the showcase suppliers and the attendees at the event. The key exhibitors were CA technologies, Changepoint, Clarizen, Microsoft and Planview.

Closing remarks

A really good and informative wrap round summary of the two days was provided by Donna Fitzgerald. She mentioned all the key messages that were addressed at the conference.  The artwork during many sessions by Axelle Vanquaille was absolutely fabulous, as she visually captured what the speakers relayed, for example, in the keynote ‘Trusting the Ensemble’ by the British conductor and music director, Charles Hazelwood. (This will be covered further in a future blog).

 

 

 

 

 

(Image by Axelle Vanquaille)

My two days sailed by. The Gartner team did an excellent job in the planning and running of this event, allowing all attendees to take away some action points.  Gartner provided a ‘save the date for 2018’  for the next event which I have added to my diary.   A truly valuable and thought-provoking event and one that I would not like to miss in the future.

Full details on presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

HE survey on business analysis and making the most of the UCISA bursary

Sarah Cockrill
Business Systems Analyst
Coventry University

Member of UCISA-PCMG

 

 

 

As business analysts, we are constantly learning how people perform their jobs roles. Gaining an understanding of how they capture, process and output information in order to achieve the desired outcomes. We capture this information so that we can identify areas of improvement. We also help to implement new ways of working, new software systems or processes that enable our organisations to achieve their strategic goals. As business analysts how often do we take a step back and analyse our own ways of working? Do we stop and benchmark ourselves against other Business Analysts working in the HE community or beyond in the corporate world?

In 2016 as part of my role on the UCISA Project and Change Management Group (PCMG) committee, I carried out a survey to measure the maturity of the business analysis community within the higher education (HE) sector. This informed our understanding of where we were as a community in terms of maturity.

The survey which was sent out to all members of the PCMG mailing list received a 32% response rate, which falls well within the expected response rate for an email survey. The survey results showed that every responding institution was undertaking business analysis activities, with over 65% having a dedicated business analysis team. This clearly shows that there is a recognised need for business analysis activities in the sector. When we looked at the average size of the business analysis teams, we found that it came in at around five members of staff on average, which shows that it is still considered a relatively small area of operations for most organisations. The majority of business analysis teams had been in existence for less than ten years, however most institutions had been undertaking analysis activities prior to the formation of a dedicated business analysis team. The question that gave us a real insight into the maturity of the business analysis function, showed us that 70% of organisations still see the business analysis function as an IT related one. In a mature organisation, we would expect to see the business analysis function sitting with and supporting the senior management team of the organisation. One may argue that just because they are located in an IT function they still may be closely aligned to senior management.  However, evidence shows that most organisations still consider them to be an IT asset with half of business analysts in the sector only working on IT change projects.

Overall, the survey results show us that as a sector we have not matured enough to be in a position to assist in driving the business strategy. As a sector, we are still working mainly on IT driven change initiatives and are based within the ITS function. The majority of business analysts are not undertaking market and competitor analysis or getting involved in pre-project work, such as feasibility studies and business case development.

In 2011 and 2012, the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) undertook a similar survey in the UK. The results showed that the average maturity levels for business analysis functions based in industry matched those found from our 2016 survey of HE institutions. However, as the IIBA survey was four years older than the HE one I carried out, we can hypothesise they have made some progress in maturing as a sector in those intervening years.

The question then arose, how do we as a community compare against business analysts working in the commercial sector?

I wanted to get an understanding of the tools and techniques they were using, to see if they were ahead of the game compared to the HE sector. Do they experience the same issues when undertaking their analysis, did they have the same frustrations as us and encounter the same blockers? What methods did they employ to attempt to overcome obstacles?

Through UCISA’s Groups and Communities of Practice, the HE community is offered an excellent platform to share knowledge, experience and good practice. To step outside this community and gain knowledge of the commercial field, the UCISA bursary scheme allows you the opportunity to attend conferences such as the IIBA conference. This gives you the opportunity to meet and hear first-hand from Business Analysts working outside of the HE sector.

In 2016, I was lucky enough to be awarded a UCISA bursary to attend the IIBA conference in London. I found the experience gave me an invaluable opportunity to gain knowledge on the role of a business analyst working in the corporate world. Listening to presentations from speakers who came from a mix of corporate backgrounds on the topics that mattered to them, gave me an insight into the issues they faced, the tools they used and solutions that had worked for them.

The main recurring theme of the conference was not one of the newest tools, or methodologies but one of the age old issues that faces every business analyst, one of capturing the requirements effectively. I saw several speakers that presented this topic in unique ways and from different angles but the message boiled down to the same fact. As analysts when capturing requirements, we must listen to what our stakeholders really want and stop trying to solutionize and jump to conclusions without capturing the real facts.

The second topic that seemed to be prevalent at the conference was of course, Agile. I know from personal experience in the HE sector many of us are only just starting to dip our toe into the world of Agile project delivery. I found that while the corporate world had been using Agile for a number of years they were still struggling with the same basic issues of trying to fit Agile into organisational structures that were not designed to support this type of delivery. For example:

  • Off shore development teams supporting project managers and analysts working in the UK.
  • Trying to fit Agile delivery into project management structures where the supporting processes were originally developed to support waterfall delivery of projects.
  • Gaining real buy in from senior management to support Agile delivery and provide the Agile teams with someone from the business that would be not only a dedicated resource to the project, but one with the authority to make the business decisions required by the development teams.

Of course, the conference providers ensured there were lots of chances to network in between sessions and this gave me the perfect opportunity to chat one-to-one with other business analysts and delve a bit deeper into their experiences.

The key learning point for me from the whole experience is that there are very little differences between our worlds. Yes, our products or services may differ but the challenges we face as business analysts remain the same. We all struggle to get recognition for the importance of the analyst’s role, we are all bought in too late to projects to have a real impact on the outcome, and we are all given too little resource to undertake the analysis effectively. The funding from the UCISA bursary to attend the conference informed my knowledge of the business analysis sector outside of the HE environment. I believe this knowledge is invaluable to business analyst working in HE as it enables us to mature and grow beyond the confines of our own sector.

 

Everything starts with a Project Initiation Document…!

Graham Francis
Director of Continuous Improvement
Havering Sixth Form College

In the first part of this blog , we looked at the reasons why projects fail and the process that we have adopted to try and ensure that this did not happen with our own projects at Havering Sixth Form College. In this blog, we will look at the process that we go through to get a project from an idea to being agreed and adopted by the College Executive.

Often projects will start with a senior member of college management identifying a need such as “we must have a better Asset Management system” or “wouldn’t it be great if we could see our data visually”. Just how these projects would come to fruition was not really considered. In the past, these projects (if adopted) would remain with the originator and would often result in a project, which ultimately exceeded all forms of whatever controls may have been thought to have been put in place in terms of time, cost, resources and staffing, or any possible combination thereof.

In an effort to end this, we have adopted an approach that specifies that no project can proceed before it had been thoroughly researched and a Project Initiation Document had been produced (well that was the theory!).

But what is a Project Initiation Document (or PID for short)? Wikipedia describes its purpose is to capture and record basic information needed to correctly define and plan the project and that it provides “a reference point throughout the project for both the customer and the Project team”. But what does a PID look like? Well, if I’m honest I had no idea and attempts to create one proved frustrating so after much searching of the Internet, which housed many examples, none really suitable to a college environment, I discovered Susanne Madsen’s website and adopted the Blank PID 2016 that she had developed, customising it as necessary.

This document consisted of a number of sections:
• Executive Summary (at the beginning but completed last)
• Project Definition
• Business Case
• Project Planning
• Risks and Issues (an invaluable tool to assist in developing this is the 130 Project Risks (List) created by Anna Mar)
• Project Organisation and Communication
• Project Controls
• Project Acceptance Sign-Off.

By completing each of these sections (in detail), a tightly prescribed understanding of each project is developed. An example of a PID for a recent website redevelopment project that we have undertaken can be found here Website PID.

Whilst considering the purpose of the PID, it was at this point that we started to think quite radically about why previous projects had failed and how we could avoid this in the future. As part of the development of the PID itself, it is necessary to define who the Executive Sponsor is and who is going to manage the project team. This caused us to consider two further questions: ‘How could we get effective Senior Management (Executive) buy-in into the project?’ and ‘How could we ensure that the project meets the needs of the (internal) customer?’.

One requirement of any project managed in this way is to nominate an Executive Sponsor and an Internal Project Team Leader. This again gave us an opportunity for some radical thinking:

• What if (with their agreement) the member of Executive in whose area of responsibility the project would have the most impact, became the Executive Sponsor?
• What if (again with their agreement) we were to make the member of staff who would ultimately be most affected by the changes that the project was envisaged to have, became the Project Team Leader?

We adopted this approach considering that it would ensure Senior Management buy-in whilst also reducing any impact that change would have as the Project Team leader was fully involved with the project itself.

During the process of developing the PID, it is reviewed by a small team of reviewers to ensure clarity and completeness. Once this group have agreed that the PID is complete, then it is passed to the Executive Sponsor for confirmation and signature. Until such time as it is agreed by the executive Sponsor, no work on the project itself is undertaken.

With the PID formally agreed then it is used as the basis for the Terms of Reference (TOR). The TOR for the Website Redevelopment project can be found here Website TOR . This document acts as a synopsis of the project requirements themselves and is given to prospective suppliers along with the Invitation To Tender/Quotation (ITT/ITQ), an example of which is located ITQ Website. The Terms of Reference is written in such a way that it can be used as a basis for evaluating the project when it has been completed/reached its completion date.

In the next blog, I will focus on monitoring the live project and the evaluation process undertaken when it has been completed.

EA for managing change

ian-ellery-head-small

 

Ian Ellery
Head of IT Architecture
Canterbury Christ Church University

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so, here I am at the IRM enterprise architecture conference  . The opening introduction promised a mixture of talks about the theoretic as well from those who have actually done it. We were also told that there were representatives from over 30 countries and all continents (except Antarctica!). A glance at the delegate list showed that I am the only person from a UK university, with just three other university representatives. This is reflected in the talks, with lots of emphasis on product delivery, profit margins and managing a business across multiple international locations. However, there was very little that I didn’t feel could be translated into the UK higher education sector in some way.

The opening keynote was from Ashley Braganza, a professor at Brunel Business School. He spoke passionately and length about the fact that, when it comes down to it, everything is about change. Business process management leads to enterprise architecture which leads to project and portfolio management: but all of these are really about managing change.

Theoretically, everything that is being done should link back to organisational strategy, but in practice it rarely does. He used an excellent analogy of the strategy being a mirror. When SMT look in the mirror, they see their strategy reflected back at them. But the mirror is then broken apart and each SMT member takes away a piece that reflects their part of the strategy. The mirror is then broken down again and again until every individual in the organisation has their own piece of the mirror reflecting their objectives. But the big picture, the reflection of SMT’s real vision, has been lost. And unfortunately, it is the enterprise architects who are usually called on to fix things! My reflection on this (pun definitely intended) is that either we fight this and try and get a coherent strategic vision, or alternatively, perhaps we embrace it and welcome the fact that EA is the place where corporate strategy becomes visible.

To finish, Ashley reflected on different change models, which he felt were all lacking. He was especially vitriolic about Kotter’s eight steps to change . Finally, one of the phrases of the day which totally resonated with me: the problems, in his view, are that we have 21st century models and methodologies, working within 20th century organisations led by people with 19th century mindsets. By the latter he meant a Dickensian obsession with counting things. Budgets, REF, TEF… sound familiar?

UCISA has an Enterprise Architecture community of practice which may be of interest.

Risk management and learning from failure

simon

 

 

 

Simon Geller
Senior Project Manager
University of Sheffield
Member of UCISA-PCMG

 

 

I made it to Indianapolis in time for Peter Tinson’s induction session. That was helpful, and it was good to meet up with UK colleagues or dinner.

The morning plenary started at 8am – not a problem for me as my body clock is still fixed halfway across the Atlantic – with the usual welcome from the CEO of Educause and thanks to the organisers.

Then we got into the star performer of the morning – Daniel Pink on motivation. He’s a good speaker and kept the audience engaged, as indeed a good motivator should!

Risk management and learning from failure
I then attended “A practical approach to risk management” (up my street, as I was lead author on the UCISA-PCMG Toolkit on risk).  However, this session really just focussed on well-known tools and techniques and how they had been implemented at particular institutions.

Of more interest was the following session on how organisations can learn from failure – this was run in a highly collaborative and participatory way, with an open Google doc used to capture thoughts from the participants.  As well as comments in the room and the session had its own Twitter tag, #edu15fail.

Preparing for the first Project and Change Management Group (PCMG) Event

PCMG has officially been a UCISA group since 2014. We are holding our first event on 10 June 2015 “Project and change management – why bother?” http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/groups/pcmg/events/2015/pcmg.aspx? We are keen that our first formal event should reflect the full range of both the group’s scope and the committee’s expertise.

To prepare for the event, the first thing we had to do was to identify our speakers. We were delighted that Gerry Pennell (University of Manchester) agreed to open the event and we were able to secure Prof. Zoe Radnor from Loughborough University as final speaker of the day. We are also looking forward to hearing from Ruth Murray Webster and Adrian Reed.

Once we’d identified speakers, we focused on potential workshops. We had a very long list of ideas and could have filled the slots three times over. We hope that you will agree that the workshops offer something for everybody interested in this field. At the main UCISA conference in March, there was a great deal of interest in Agile Project Management so we’ve decided to add a workshop on this area: if you would be interested in co-presenting at this workshop, we’d love to hear from you.

Planning for this event has been a real eye-opener about the extent of the professional and helpful support from UCISA. It’s great for us committee members to have the glamour and pleasure arranging the programme: but it is important to acknowledge the invaluable support that UCISA offers to its groups.

We are hoping for a good turn out at the event, please do get in contact if you would like any further information about the event. The content should offer a challenging, informative and enjoyable day for anyone who is interested in project and change management in higher education.