About Project Management
According to the Project Management Institute guide to best project management practices (Project Management Book of Knowledge or PMBOK):
A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. The temporary nature of projects indicates that a project has a definite beginning and end. The end is reached when the project's objectives have been achieved or when the project is terminated because its objectives will not or cannot be met, or when the need for the project no longer exists.
While ITS at Middlebury uses this definition for a project there are some differences from the more rigid steps defined by the Project Management Institute. See below our overall process.
The green sections indicate the Project Portfolio Process the team has currently defined; pink indicates the Project Execution portions.
The process for ITS will evolve based on new information, needs and objectives. It is an ongoing process improvement endeavor. Keep coming back to this page to see the changes as they are enacted.
The PMI defines the following process groups; many are very similar to the ITS version:
- Very much like the green section of the ITS process; the project is started, overall scope defined and kicked off.
- Just like the Planning phase in the ITS process the project is further planned and developed.
- The project work is done as defined in the Project plan. As in the ITS pink section while executing the work the project status is reported to the stakeholders.
- The project is formally ended, closed out and Lessons Learned and After Action Reviews are done to assess project performance and save any knowledge gained from the work done.
One difference between the PMI process and the ITS process is that the PMI adds a Monitoring and Controlling group. Here the Project team and specifically the Project Manager uses data and various tools to monitor project progress and perform corrective actions if there are issues. While not spelled out in the ITS process, it would be expected ITS Project teams would perform this process group to ensure project success and accurate reporting to stakeholders.
ITS Project Management Process
Middlebury ITS, like other IT departments in other industries, supports the institution by delivering value based solutions to satisfy our shared mission, goals, and objectives. Projects often require a structured process, effective tools, and various resources while ensuring the outcomes are within cost, allotted time period and specified quality guidelines. In order to accomplish this, ITS embarked on a Project Management Process improvement initiative.
Our primary goal is to improve the success rate and customer satisfaction with ITS projects and other projects in which ITS is involved.
Supporting Goals and Deliverables
- Develop a standardized but flexible Project Management Framework for ITS projects that supports a defined Project Life Cycle.
- Create a single project request process for all ITS projects, both internal and external.
- Empower all levels of staff to make decisions related to projects and priorities within thresholds defined by their managers.
- Develop a standardized project management template that includes appropriate artifacts.
- Develop improved metrics by providing a holistic view into operational and project activities throughout ITS.
Project Management Process
- In order to ensure that the ITS team was equipped with the right process tools and training to execute Projects, ITS consulted Jen Mincar (Mincar Consulting) for advisement and in-person project execution training.
- Having a single one stop point for project requests will streamline, consolidate and reduce the complexity of communicating project needs with the ITS team.
- Overall the tools and process above are designed to facilitate engagement, collaboration, planning and communications within ITS and outside the organization so that outcomes deliver the value and achieve the goals set out by the project team.
- This initiative is iterative and evolving in nature; the team is open to feedback and suggestions from all and will continually seek to improve outcomes via After Action Reviews, Retrospectives and documenting Lessons Learned.
Roles and Responsibilities
All projects have teams of various sizes and need to have their roles and responsibilities defined to avoid conflicts, make sure the work is owned and completed by the right people and create team cohesion. The link below provides further information in depth about ITS Project Roles and Responsibilities.
Role of the ITS Project Manager (ITS-PM)
The ITS-PM is the individual ultimately responsible for ensuring that the ITS project management process is followed and all associated artifacts (documents, project charters, project plans, and weekly status updates) are complete on time. The ITS-PM may maintain these artifacts themselves or may delegate and/or collaborate to ensure all relevant materials are completed on time.
Role of ITS-PM versus Vendor-PM or Functional-PM
In the event the overall project is being managed primarily by a vendor’s project manager or within another functional area of the college, the ITS-PM is still responsible for maintaining all artifacts required as part of the ITS project management process. For example – all ITS projects, regardless of where the lead PM resides, should include a completed WHD project request, project charter, and status report. If the master project plan is being managed by someone outside ITS, make note of this in the Project Charter and link to the location of the project plan. Status reports of projects must be maintained by the ITS-PM on a weekly basis regardless of where the master project initiative is being managed.
ITS Project Manager’s (ITS-PM) responsibilities
- Create and maintain PM deliverables and artifacts: Ultimately responsible for all project management deliverables and artifacts that support projects and programs within ITS including project planning, scope management, quality management, resource management, schedule management, risk management, communications management, post-implementation review, etc.
- Organize project artifacts: Assures the creation, existence, quality, and accuracy of necessary project related documentation and artifacts including, but not limited to, the ITS Project Charter, ITS Project Plan, WHD Project Request, and weekly status updates. Creation and maintenance of these materials may be delegated where appropriate.
- Follow standards: Creates project charters, plans, and status reports using established ITS standards.
- Change Management: Ensures the ITS (and where applicable vendors) change management process is utilized effectively to ensure customer satisfaction and scope/risk management.
- Manage a budget: Manage project expenses to stay within or under approved budget.
- Manage the plan: Development and implementation of complete project schedules to ensure required dates are met. Must be able to generate and manage detailed project plans.
- Develop PM best practices: Manage adherence to and improvement of ITS Project Management best practices and Project Management Institute (PMI) methodology and procedures. Make recommendations to the ITS Project Management Team, ITS Managers, or Senior Leadership Team regarding improvements to the ITS project management process.
- Maintain customer satisfaction: Monitor and maintain customer satisfaction by engaging in status meetings and updates as necessary and agreed upon during project initiation. Report concerns or issues to ITS leadership immediately while simultaneously working with customers, ITS staff, and vendors to resolve all issues.
- Project leadership and direction: Maintain a positive rapport with the project team. Maintain effective working relationships throughout the college, with vendors, and with 3rd parties.
- Communicate status and issues: Communicate timely status and escalations of any issues to project team, sponsor, and stakeholders. Update department project lists with project status on a regular basis.
- Smooth transition to support: The project manager is accountable for the successful transition of projects to a production status including communicating go-live status with constituents, stakeholders, sponsors, etc. The ITS-PM is responsible for ensuring all projects are handed off to User Services support staff where applicable.
- Contributes to the implementation of the project where applicable.
- Meet objectives: Consistently meets documented deadlines, objectives, and milestones.
- Own project results & optimization: Track and report project results against project objectives and provide recommendations for corrective action and/or suggestions to improve the project outcome.
- Document: Create project directory (in MiddFiles, Google Drive, etc.) and ensure all project documents are archived in project directory for easy access.
- Conducts After Activity Reviews (AAR) to document what went well and where improvements can be made. Documents lessons-learned from project and shares with all project participants and ITS Senior Leadership Team
What is a project Sponsor?
- Is positioned at a leadership level in the organization
- From organization with the largest business impact and/or
- Organization with the largest resource requirement
- Provides the funding for the project through annual budget request process
- Provides advocacy and support required to ensure the project receives the necessary resources to be successful
- Demonstrates organization's overall commitment to the project
- Communicates the project's purpose/value to the Senior Leadership Group(SLG)
- Approves the project's objectives, scope, and success criteria
- Ensures compliance with business objectives
- Provides funding through annual budget request process (where applicable)
- Approves in conjunction with ITS-PM:
- Resource levels. Provides additional resources if necessary
- Project changes and communicates to execs when necessary
- Priorities internally and externally
- Helps address road blocks, removes obstacles or other constraints.
- Ensures timely resolution of issues affecting project success
- ITS- PM in making key project decisions
- team by providing direction and support
- Is integral to connecting with customers and setting expectations with the community
- Attends key status meetings when appropriate
- Is accessible and provides guidance, encouragement, and feedback throughout the course of the project
- Ensures that the ownership of the project deliverables when completed are explicit (e.g. the transition to operations/Service & Support -- is known and smooth)
- Promotes team recognition
The Project Charter
After you have submitted a Web Help Desk Project request, the next step is to work with the appropriate ITS Project Manager and staff to complete a Project Charter. You can use go/itsprojectcharter to get the official Project Charter template. Then make a copy with a new name, the title of your project from the Web Help Desk Project title and make sure to add Project Charter at the end. This charter should be saved in a folder with the same name as a Google doc in the ITS Projects folder in Google.
Below are the various major sections of the Project Charter. Some are mandatory but others you may not need; we do ask that you do not remove unneeded sections but simply put NA next to them if they are not applicable. The more information you can add to the Project Charter, the better ITS can serve your needs. Producing the Charter is very much an iterative process.
The following sections in the Project Charter can be copied from the completed Web Help Desk project ticket:
- Project Title
- Date Needed
- Project Vision & Outcome
- Project Justification
- Organizational Goals
- Technical Specification
- Describe in detail the infrastructure, system, or software that has been chosen to fulfill the functional requirements above. Include an effort and duration estimate.
- Project Team
- Identify the roles that exist for the project, and who is assigned to the roles if they are known. List the roles even if a person to fill the role has not yet been identified. You can also list the project stakeholders.
- Project Deliverables
- Here you can break down even further the Requirements and Features needed in order to complete the project goals and objectives.
- Risks & Assumptions
- What are the assumptions you have made, risks and issues and contingency plans to handle them and the constraints that may hinder completion of the project.
- Work Breakdown Structure
- In this section, usually the Technical lead doing the actual work will use the Project Deliverables and break them down into the technical work components needed to meet the features.
- High Level Milestones
- Here the team will place the High Level schedule milestone dates.
- Here the team should list stakeholders and their requirements for communicating information about the project and the frequency of those communications.
- If you project needs to use an outside vendor there are listed in this section assessments to determine the capabilities and gather information on how well the vendor can meet Middlebury’s requirements.
- Budget Statement
- Here place any budget information as needed by your Project.
- Information Security
- All project that are being done should take the time to contact InfoSec to determine if there are any concerns and or issues for security.
These sections of the charter can be completed by the Technical Lead, the Functional Lead and or the Project Manager. Usually Charters are a team effort. But the responsibility of completing the Charter lies in the hands of the Project Manager.
PSR or Project Status Report
The Project Status report is the tool used to report how the project is performing, progressing and to give stakeholders insight into project overall health.
For access convenience, it is currently a google doc, kept as a single page. The Project Manager only needs to copy the previous reporting section, paste it above and update this new reporting period with the new information. This way if stakeholders would like to view other reporting periods it is in one single place for an easy running history.
It would normally be filled out weekly, but could be a different time period; this would be of course determined by the needs of the project stakeholder(s).
Below is the current official Project Status report. There are also other sections for calling attention to Blockers, Risks and what work is upcoming and has been completed as wins for the team.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Project Charter can be created by the Functional Lead, the Project Manager or the Technical Lead.
Whomever creates the original Project Charter should create and save it to the folder for the project artifacts.
You can ask the assigned Project Manager or the Technical lead listed on the Web Help Desk Ticket. Also the PM and or Technical Lead should be updating the Charter and the Ticket with statuses.
WHD Project Request
The Web Help Desk Project Request ticket is the launching pad in order to bring your project to the official attention to ITS staff. Below are some of the main fields that aid the Project Manager and Technical Lead in completing the Project Charter and your project overall.
Note: Items marked with an * below will be provided to you by the ITS Project Manager if you do not have this information
- Project Title
- Give the project a meaningful and accurate title that gives a quick overall view into the goals and objectives for the project.
- Date Needed By
- This is the date that you estimate you need this project completed by; it should be thought out carefully as ITS will take it into consideration when determining if the needed resources are able to accomplish this.
- Project Vision & Outcome
- What exactly is the project overall going to deliver and produce.
- Project Justification & Organizational Goals
- Why is this project needed and does it meet organizational goals; what happens if we do not do this project?
- *URL of Project Charter
- The URL of the Project Charter.
- *URL to Project Plan
- The URL of the Project Plan.
- *URL to Project Status Report
- The URL of the PSR.
- *Current Status
- Where is the queue is the project currently; these include waiting for review, not started, not approved, In progress, cancelled, completed or on hold.
The Project Manager and or the Assigned Technical lead assigned for the project are responsible for updating the Project Request ticket status. Clients can communicate with the Project Tech Lead via the ticket notes section.