Project Update 15/03/13

Following the latest project board meeting, the recommendations from the Business Upgrade project have been agreed by the Learning and Information Services Executive Committee and by the request of the Chief Operating Officer (COO), are being operationalized.  How they will be operationalized will then be reported back to the COO and the Deputy VC (Academic).  The DVC (Academic) is the chair of the Information Strategy Panel and we will seek his approval to embed the recommendations in operational procedure via chairs action.  The project board have also recommended that the recommendations and the operational procedures be presented to ISP at the next meeting.

The success of the approach of the Business Upgrade project recommendations has been demonstrated through the UCLan Course Data project, also funded by Jisc, which sought to action as many of the recommendations during the development as possible.


Project Update / Action Learning Set 15/02/13

This action learning set was a face to face event, which proved to be very useful as there were a few new people joining the group.  The key issue highlighted with the business upgrade project was that it was awaiting decisions from the board to move forward.  This urgency of this is increased by the project manager due to leave for maternity at the end of March.

The project board face the challenge of being responsible for three of UCLan’s transformations projects so there is often a lot to discuss and consider.  As discussed in the action learning set, the project board were sent details of the outstanding decisions / actions required as well advice on the approaching deadline.  Due to the information received in advancement the project board were able to work swiftly through the actions / decisions requested and the project is now able to progress.

The project board agreed;

  • To recommend the introduction of principles to support the delivery of suitable  – this will be presented to the Information Strategy Panel for consideration.
  • To recommend the introduction of a gating process to projects to ensure they have governance, ownership, resources, benefits identified, communication and change strategy, etc.
  • To recommend the introduction / enhance change management , benefits realisation, stakeholder analysis and communication plans for projects.  To support this a template has been developed to support project managers through the process which includes the e3 benefits grid, benefits maps, etc.
  • To recommend the revision of and introduction of a project board and project team charter which outlines what role / level in the organisation is required for each role along with their individual responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of each group.

While the project board agreed these in principle, the project will now work to refine the documents and they will be presented to the Information Strategy Panel by the acting Director of Learning and Information services.

Project Update 18/01/13

Activity with the project has picked up again since the Christmas break, the recommendations to the project board was converted into an actions lists and progress has been made.

Action: Review Project Board Roles

The project recognises that there may need to be some flexibility in the roles and structure of the project board depending on the size and nature of the project.  However, it is clear that the roles should be clarified and agreed to at the start of the project so all involved are aware of their responsibilities.  A template for a Project Board Charter and a Project Team Charter have been created.  This template includes the Terms of Reference for the Project Board , the suggested roles, the position (level, responsibility and area of the business) of the member of staff that should fill that role and their responsibilities.   A similar Project  Team Charter has also been created with the recommendation that the team should represent the Project Board at an operational level.

Action: Change Management, Communications Policies

It was noted when looking at change management and communication strategies that it was not possible to have one without the other and there was also a lot of cross over between the two with benefits realisation and stakeholder mapping.  Therefore a new template was created that takes the project manager through a series of stages that enable them to develop an effective change management and communication policy.

These stages are;

Phase one: Initial Analysis – this stage of the process considers the high level stakeholders and the potential benefits and impact of the project.  It is intended to be an initial consideration of the project deliverables  and the intended benefits.  This stage uses the e3 Benefits grid.

Phase two: Communication Strategy

The initial analysis identifies the stakeholders and the plan of how the project should be communication to them can start to form this is table based and considered; the stakeholder, their required involvement in the project, how the deliverables will affect them, the key messages they need to receive and the method with rough timings.

Phase three: Benefits Mapping

Once the project manager has considered the benefits to the stakeholders, and has identified the high level benefits of the project in the PID, it is time to tie them up with a benefits map.  This is a useful exercise to undertake with the Project Board or key stakeholders in the project to really focus them on the benefits of the project deliverables rather than the project itself.  Benefits mapping as presented by Niki Rogers at the EA workshops is used at this stage.  The intent is to link the deliverables from the project to the interim / immediate benefits through to the end benefits and ultimately the strategic objectives.


Phase four:  Change management strategy

This was influenced by the JISC InfoNet Chanage Manage workshop the project manager attended. Project outputs often impact a range of staff across the institution, requiring their involvement from strategic leadership to operational engagement.   Effective change management can ensure that buy-in is secured from relevant stakeholders to achieve successful delivery and implementation of project outputs.  The impact of the people’s attitudes and behaviour on projects, their deliverables and on-going benefits should not be underestimated.

This document should be used to plan a change management strategy, to be implemented and refined throughout a project’s lifecycle to help achieve successful delivery.

 Successful change management requires an understanding of a project’s stakeholders beyond high level impact or involvement required.  In addition it is important to be aware that people in a group of stakeholders are likely to react differently to a project and it is important to consider the roles within the stakeholder group, for example within the “academics” group there are course leaders, Principle Lecturers, Lecturers, Ad Hoc Lecturers who may need to be considered separately.  You may also find that you need to consider individuals as the project progresses, particularly when if they are a key influencer or have the potential to be a champion.

When analysing stakeholders, a project should consider;

  • Who are the influencers and who they influence
  • What reaction individuals are likely to have to the change
  • What barriers might there be to individuals buying into the change
  • How can those barriers be addressed
  • What benefits will there be to the individual – not just the benefits to the university
  • What activities may be required to secure buy-in
  • Identify if there are any groups that are likely to produce a change champion

A table sis used to capture the stakeholder, how they can be influenced, who they influence, what barriers they might perceive to engaging, if any individuals should be targeted and potential activities.

In addition the template includes a table for capturing potential change champions throughout the project.

Phase five: Communication and Change Management Plan

This is the key section of the document and is an amalgamation of the information captured in the phases above.  It is suggested that project managers may wish to embed this in their MS Project plan rather than a separate table.   The table includes timing, activity, key message, target audience and who the task is assigned to.

In addition recommendations are being made as to the layout and content of project sites on the intranet to ensure consistent communication about the project.

Action: Project Close down

New documents have been developed outlining the requirements for owners of project deliverables and their responsibilities.

In addition to the actions above a new process is being introduced for the new round of strategic projects that are just starting.  This is a gate process and outlines requirements the projects have to meet to progress through each gate.

These documents are subject to approval from the board but will be released with the project outputs.

Project update 11/12/12

The Transformations Project Board met on the 14/11/12 and the recommended actions are to be reviewed by Directorate. This is a significant step forward by the project and there are smaller tasks which the project can undertake while this discussion is taking place such as refining the Unified Communication Policy, developing the templates to guide change management in projects etc.

Progress may appear slow on this project, however it is the most strategic project of UCLan’s Transformation Programme with the most significant impact and therefore needs the discussion, input and agreement of senior strategic leaders.

Project Update 16/10/12

The Project Board was due to meet on the 9th of October and this was to be a key meeting as it would determine the way forward for the project.  Unfortunately on the day the meeting had to be cancelled due to my sickness and apologies from two other board members.  However, the documentation had been distributed the previous week in preparation for the meeting outlining all the recommendations for the project.

We wrote to the project board to highlight that delaying the decision making till the next meeting could be a potential risk to the project and request they used the time scheduled for the meeting to comment on the documentation and advised that the receipt of no comments or objections would be taken as agreement.

The board were subsequently written to on the 16th of October to note that no objections had been received and therefore the project will action the recommendations.

The recommendations cover a wide range of areas, such as; enhancing the initiation stage of projects to ensure they have a solid project structure including a business case, agreed scope and agreed resources. Only once this stage is complete will the project received sign off from the ISP Review Group to start the project.  The recommendations also included a review and clarification of the roles and responsibilities of project boards including the identification of the owner of the project output and their required role.  In addition cross over with other systems and processes is required to be identified as well as a review of communication of projects and the responsibilities of all staff involved.  There is also a recommendation to introduce principles that outline how the university operates as a whole, the rationale of the principles and the implication of them.  Finally the recommendations include the closure of projects with clearly identified owners and their responsibilities for benefit realisation, maintenance and future development requests.

The project team will now start to look at converting these recommendations to actions.

Action learning set Sept 28th 2012

We had the latest action learning set last Friday to update our cluster on the progress of our projects and discuss any issues we may be facing.  The Business Upgrade project is progressing well.  However, the next stage of the project will be determined by the decisions to be made at the project board on the 9th of October.

There were a lot of interesting discussions during the action learning set.  One in particular was useful for this project.  All the projects are making good progress and we discussed in general about how projects progress in higher education and how there are often periods of in activity where it looks like the project is stalling, yet then there are surges of activity where the project suddenly progresses and a lot is achieved.  We discussed what the causes for this were, some of the suggestions were that many projects in HE are not done by dedicated project staff but staff who also have to continue with their day to day jobs and as we are all aware there are periods during the academic cycle that are very busy . Other suggestions where that we perhaps do not consider the bigger picture, or undertaken scoping or feasibility initiatives at the start of the project, so barriers are identified during the project that could have been identified and address at the start.  It was also noted that the recruitment process can be quite slow in the HE sector and often if a project is waiting to recruit staff it came suffer delays.  We didn’t come up with any conclusions as such but it was quite a though provoking discussion and as I say linked very well with Business Upgrade as these are some of the issue the project is looking at.

Project update:11/09/12

I can’t believe it is September already – this year is flying by!

The Business Upgrade project is already having an impact – before the projects is releasing documentation to the Board!  The discussions that took place around the process for the Information Strategy Panel (ISP) projects helped to spark a review of the process.  A revised process for this round of bids was announced and released to Schools and Services.  This revised process was an open call for project requests and the ISP Review Group will look at all the bids and assess which can and will be taken forward.

The document capturing the discussions around the ISP process triggered some interesting discussion at the project board, with the Director of Learning and Information Services (LIS) highlighting that several actions had already been initiated to address some of the issues raised. In particular, LIS are reviewing the current structure of projects and have appointed a communications officer focused on projects.   A key point to note was that while the capturing of discussions around ISP and the ISP process were very useful, the discussions presented a range of viewpoints and therefore did not necessarily present the situation as is.  However, it was clear that there were some consistent issues raised including;

  • A lack of clarity with regards to the role and responsibility of ISP, the ISP Review Group and the project selection process.
  • More pre-project implementation work is required to determine scope and feasibility of projects.
  • Improved engagement and buy-in from across the business is required – projects should not be seen as IT projects delivered by LIS.
  • There is an issue with communication of projects.

The project board need to consider these issues and the actions that have already been taken to address them to determine what further action needs to be taken.


Action Learning Set July 10th 2012 / Update 27/07/12

We met for our first face to face Action Learning set in July, which was a great opportunity to meet our cluster group face to face. Unfortunately not all our group could attend but I was fortunate enough to meet the others at a Course Data Programme meeting and at an Enterprise Architecture workshop so am able to put faces to the names. The session was very useful to catch up and reflect on our projects.

The Business Upgrade project has slowed a little recently, however following the Enterprise Architecture day at UCLan and my attendance at the EA workshop on the 3rd of July, things are moving again.

I attended an Information Strategy Panel Meeting recently to observe. ISP discussed the ISP budget and how it is spent and discuss influencers such as the NSS scores and issues raised by students that need to be addressed. The group question / challenge the decisions based on the student need and to understand how the decisions will affect the student experience. The group are also updated on the progress of strategic ICT projects through a briefing paper. It was highlighted that for some projects there have been challenges pinning down the business requirements which result in the need to develop flexible systems and try to adapt them as required.

The group also discussed the process of communication and dissemination with regards to projects. LIS have recently appointed a projects communication officer to support dissemination of projects and one of the recommendations of the Business Upgrade project is to clarify the communication process for projects at a senior / strategic level.

I also attended the JISC InfoNet Change Management workshop. I have put a post on my Course Data Blog if you would like more information. It was very useful!

EA Day 03/07/12

On the July 3, 2012, I attended the EA Emerging Practices EA workshop in London. I was invited to present the story at UCLan so far as well as assist David Rose with the afternoon master class focusing on Management, Engagement and Benefits. Presenting the story so far enabled me to reflect on how the business upgrade project is progressing. While this has been a relatively quiet period for the project, it is noticeable that UCLan is moving towards more effective and efficient processes and is eager to ensure that the business has more engagement and ownership of strategic project to ensure their success. This is evident through the briefing papers released by the Director of Learning and Information Services, the approach the Directorate are taking by identifying the overlap between projects to ensure alignment of activity and the latest appraisal objective in LIS Business Support, which required the team to ensure they “actively contribute to the reshaping of a more customer focussed environment which exploits the potential for better integration across service teams to provide a more streamlined academic support package”.

Project update May 2012

On May the 16th we held an Enterprise Architecture Day at UCLan. The day followed a similar format to the JISC EA Day in London in March.

The day was opened with an introduction to EA from David Rose, followed by the EA story at the University of Bolton by Patrick O’Reilly. I followed Patrick, outlining where I thought UCLan was with regards to EA. These presentations stimulated a series of discussions looking at what the benefits of EA were and the opportunities it presented. There are currently being reported and will be added to this blog shortly. They include ensuring projects are business led, joining up of projects, re-using systems and processes where possible to reduce costs and increase efficiency as well as the opportunity for greater involvement from the business in steering projects.

After lunch Adam Watson from Leeds Met ran an introduction to Archi session teaching the groups the basics of using the tool. The usual tool for modelling processes at UCLan is Visio and this gave the participants an opportunity to explore Archi as an option. Although Archi uses the Archimate Modelling Language, Adam brought a simplified document that explained the key elements that were likely to be used.

The final session of the day looked at benefits realisation and David Rose introduced the e3 benefits grid. This encouraged the group to consider the effectiveness, efficiency and how a project will enable in the areas of enterprise, education and external to the organisation.

Overall the feedback from the day was very positive. The day simulated lot of thought and discussion among the attendees. The business upgrade project will aim to capture these thought to help inform the development of the ideal process for the management of strategic ICT projects.