Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Happy New Year

The bowl games are over, and it’s zero degrees outside. I figure that means it’s officially January and time for my next blog entry.

Last month I talked about the Director of Information Security position. I’m pleased to announce that we have some great candidates for the job and I hope to make a hire yet this month.

We’re halfway through our fiscal year, and it’s time to look ahead to what we’ll see later this year and into next year. The primary change to ITS in the coming months is going to be in the area of project management.

Once we’re done hiring a Director of Information Security, I will turn my attention to building a Project Management Office (PMO) within ITS. If you think back to the Fall start we had a bunch of projects blow up (for lack of a better term) at go-live. Many of these projects were managed by departments outside of ITS. While that, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, we should note that the ITS component of nearly every project comes at the very end of the project so it’s “our” piece that ends up getting less time than it needs, and it’s the ITS folks that end up feeling like projects arrived on their doorsteps without the proper planning.

To begin fixing that problem, ITS will take on managing those projects directly through the creation of a PMO within ITS. That gets us deeply involved from day 1, and also puts the onus of communication on our own staff.

While I don’t know who will be on this team yet, I can safely say that it will be comprised of existing employees. My goal is to move 3 people onto this team some time in the first half of 2009, before the July 1 fiscal year switchover. The Director of Project Management will report to me, but will be a working director, responsible for managing projects as well as two other people. Project Managers on that team will also be assigned their own projects to manage. Accountability and performance will be measured by their ability to bring projects to completion on time, under budget, and with the high degree of customer service we expect from our ITS department.

One of my favorite (and over-used) business cartoons depicts the process by which tire-swing is generated. I have always enjoyed it (even though you’ve seen it 100 times I’m guessing) because it shows the difficulty in getting everyone on the same page. We are going to rely on the PMO to do just that so I updated the cartoon to be more effective for my needs.


You may be wondering what this means for you. Well, unless you end up in the PMO it really only means you might see large projects run by someone other than the director of a specific ITS team. We have a myriad of projects running right now that would have been great candidates for the PMO: Meal Plans for the new dorm, Equitrac Print Management and Enterprise Dashboards (this project is just kicking off) come to mind but I’m sure there are others.

My list of projects all have a common set of characteristics:

  • They touch all areas of ITS
  • They have more than one department as a customer (no primary customer)
  • They are multiple-months in length

On that note, the PMO will not be a clearing house for every single project. As we move forward we will design a way for the PMO to accept specific projects, based on a proposal called a “project charter.” Those projects managed by the PMO will need hard deadlines as well as an “exit strategy” to get ownership of the project moved from the PMO over to a specific ITS team.

For example, if the PMO had managed the rollout of Banner, at some point (probably in 2008) the ownership of Banner would have moved from the PMO over to the Enterprise Applications Team. Similarly the Enterprise Dashboard project would be managed by the PMO, but owned by the Data Warehouse Reporting team.

At any rate, this lengthy blog post is done. It’s a little boring, and for that I apologize. I’ll try to spruce it up next month.

In the mean time, thanks for reading and keep up the outstanding work you. Our ITS team is truly world-class.