Session Wrap-up: Technology Project Selection and Governance at Loyola University Maryland

Technology Project Selection and Governance at Loyola University Maryland
Richard Sigler, Director, PMO, Elena Bozylinski, Senior Project Manager, Scott Sax, Associate Director, Loyola University Maryland

This was the most broadly applicable session I’ve attended at an Educause event, primarily because its subject – project management – is important to any business or organization. I learned quite a bit in the session that I plan to use for my own projects.

When a new executive stepped onto the scene at Loyola, she asked the IT department for a list of projects currently being worked. The team started writing – and realized they had long lists of unfinished, overlapping and redundant projects. They decided to implement a project management office (PMO). Most of the session focused on project selection, which seems to be the biggest problem for most. Here are highlights from my notes during the session:

  • The goals for a PMO are to invest well, increase success, lower risk, increase maturity and show progress (of projects)
  • And, to a great extent, simplify. Think of the directions for a kid’s playhouse and how complicated they can be. Now think about how IKEA simplifies those directions so that anyone can manage it.
  • The first step: Choosing the right projects. At Loyola:
    • Proposal: Organization member fills out an online form describing what they need (the pitch) – why, what, needs, benefits. The form outputs a proposal document for review by PMO.
    • Investigation: An IT director uses proposal to investigate project costs (both $ and people) and creates an estimate for project
    • Scoring: Data is entered into a scorecard. Scores impact (cost efficiently, regulatory important, transformative-ness*), risk (complexity, ongoing management, integration requirements, administration questions).
    • Check out their session’s PowerPoint and take a look at their scoring cards and PMO software choices.
    • Choosing projects for portfolio:
      • Class X – regulatory
      • Class 0 – project already underway
      • Class 1 – High impact, low cost = quick win
      • Class 2 – High impact, high cost = large, strategic
      • Class 3 – Low impact, low cost = nice to have
      • Class 4 – Low impact, high cost = declined (there is an appeal process, but generally, no can do).
    • Loyola schedules based on classification against resources (lower priority projects may fall off schedule).
  • Step two: Portfolio project scheduling. Loyola uses At Risk to do project and portfolio management. It allows high-level scheduling based on estimates. Both step one and two are great tools to help set expectations of organizations for IT requests.
  • Question: “Maintenance. How do you add it into the process?”
    • Loyola is still figuring maintenance out – with every project, the maintenance element grows.
    • However, use these tools to present data to justify new resources; also can show if project can make anything run more efficiently.
  • Question: “Emergency management?”
    • Loyola is still wrestling with it. However portfolio priority does help them make decisions. And IT directors have some level of flexibility within the system.

Great, informative session by Loyola University Maryland. A big thank you to them for presenting at MARC12. I’ll be thinking about how to use some of these steps in (of all things) managing my roller derby league’s projects. We have a lot to do this year 🙂

*Definition: transformative-ness: The quality that indicates the prospective amount of transformation something may bring about.” That’s my made-up word and I’m stickin’ to it.


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