New IT project framework

Projects and programmes are integral to the work of IT Services. The remit and influence of this work includes business applications, core services and infrastructure, such as system upgrades and data centre work, plus promoting the innovative use of IT in teaching and research across the University with our colleagues in Education IT and others. Our Portfolio Management Office (PMO) supports the successful implementation of such work by providing effective governance and assurance as well as advice, training and portfolio level reporting mechanisms.

In recent months, the PMO has been developing a new project framework that focuses on a best-for-project approach. By streamlining documentation, and working within a framework that is innately flexible, this new approach is already enabling increased efficiency and assurance across the department. Following appropriate fine-tuning, the new framework will be rolled out across other departments and divisions, opening minds to a new way of working at a University-wide level.

How does it work?

The new project framework within IT Services categorises projects into one of five delivery methods:

  • Standard *LIVE* - The standard project framework is intended to guide classic waterfall projects in delivering change. Waterfall projects deliver change sequentially, usually with the intended change delivered at the end of the project.
  • Lite *LIVE* - The Lite framework will be used for projects with low organisational impact which have low delivery risk.
  • Request for Funding *LAUNCHING SOON* - The Request for Funding framework is for initiatives which are non-technical, such as hardware purchases or small simple enhancements.
  • Agile *LAUNCHING 2020* - The Agile framework will be launched later this year to allow suitable projects a fast-paced method of delivery which focuses on continuous delivery and refinement. Agile projects routinely plan, test, integrate and release smaller deliveries within short designated phases, or ‘sprints,’ rather than one large delivery at the end of each project.
  • Programmes *LAUNCHING 2020* - The Programme framework will be launched later this year so we can run large change initiatives consisting of multiple related projects.

Fundamental advancements in the process include:

  • entire process shortened due to streamlined paperwork
  • focusing process on short business case (requiring one day to set up) rather than previous lengthy Project Initiation Document (required one month to set up)
  • reducing hold-ups at approval stages due to more relevant and appropriate documentation
  • an assurance checklist that allows for stronger governance and oversight of complex or high-risk projects.

What has happened so far?

Reducing documentation and simplifying the lifecycle stages has allowed smaller projects to be managed more efficiently, whilst the strengthened governance and oversight has been hugely beneficial for correctly managing more complex or high risk projects.

As Shirin Tahzib, Director of Software Solutions, highlights: “I’ve found the new project templates really effective. The templates are clear and complete but concise and efficient at the same time. I congratulate the Portfolio Management Office for having created this excellent new framework.”

Alongside reduced paperwork, the new framework’s focus on continuous improvement also allows decisions to be made based on relevant information at every level of project management. Elaine Aitken, the Education IT Programme Manager elaborates: “I used the new template for the initial business case of a project to replace the system we use for Online Coursework Submission. Because the new template is so brief and focussed, I was able to complete a first draft during a 90 minute meeting with the Senior User and Business Change Manager. This meant the project aims, scope, risks and benefits were being discussed and agreed by the key members of the project team. It really felt like ownership was being shared from an early stage.”

What is planned for the future?

Inevitably, implementing a new framework takes time. But the IT Services PMO is thrilled to see that the benefits of using the framework are already far-reaching and multiple. Now that the initial project types have been successfully trialled, the PMO will set out plans for the roll-out of projects classed as ‘Request for Funding’, ‘Agile’ and ‘Programme’.

It is hoped that this increased efficiency will continue to have a dramatic impact on the ability of IT Services to be responsive and valuable, and that we can share our progress with friends and colleagues in other departments in a way that allows us all to enjoy the benefits.

How to find out more

For more information about the Project Framework Methodology please email the Portfolio Management Office.