Tuesday, January 24, 2012
OverviewHome to more than 30,000 full-time students and nearly 1,400 faculty, Virginia Tech is one of the leading research institutions in the country. Spread across a 2,600 acre campus in Blacksburg, Virginia and a 1,700 acre agriculture research farm, technology is critical to the university’s mission of transforming knowledge and providing a computing and communications complex that facilitates worldwide information access.
Behind the scenes managing information services for the university and its students, faculty and staff is the Enterprise Systems department, which facilitates a holistic view of university applications while ensuring that these systems effectively balance technology, university functionality, security and compliance. Enterprise Systems consists of five units, Application Information Systems, Information Warehousing and Access, Database and Application Administration, Integration and Portal Services, and Document Management Systems. Unique to Virginia Tech’s Enterprise Systems is its responsibility for maintaining the data for people and financial transactions, which requires the team to hold its organization to the highest standards in terms of security and compliance.
ChallengeIn 2007 Virginia Tech adopted ISO27002 as the standards and guidelines for the university’s information security program. Under ISO27002, the Enterprise Systems department needed change management processes that are defined and well documented. While various members of Virginia Tech’s Enterprise Systems team had procedures for change management, compliance with ISO27002 was inconsistent – particularly in terms of adequate documentation.
“Each team within Enterprise Systems managed and prioritized their own requests independently,” said Ken McCrery, manager, Integration and Portal Services, at Virginia Tech. “The process lacked consistency and included everything from paper forms to spreadsheets to electronic issue tracking systems.”
Over time the procedures for submitting requests had become more informal and approval decisions were noted in a variety of methods. Project requests were submitted to team members across the Enterprise Systems organization without an overall assessment of priority or scope and with varying methods for noting how the request was approved. As a result, it was cumbersome to demonstrate and document specific change management decisions and approvals.
McCrery added, “Team members at all levels strive for responsive customer service. But, without some method for putting requests in a broader context with other requests, the individual team members felt pressured to interpret ‘good customer service’ as saying ‘yes’ to all requests.”
The Search for a PPM SolutionTo comply with the ISO standards, centralize all non-maintenance requests and to better manage available resources, the Enterprise Systems team went through the process of reviewing and analyzing project and portfolio management (PPM) solutions.
Critical to the university’s requirements for a PPM application were affordability, project planning and prioritization and resource management.
“We were not in the market for a $100,000-plus system,” said McCrery. “We wanted something that would provide consistency for all our project work and transparency to the end user. We also needed a way to map resources to projects in order to provide some level of capacity planning.”
McCrery listed the three main features that his team was looking for in a PPM solution:
• Intuitive/Easy to use User Interface.
• Graphics and dashboards to provide visual details on projects.
• Capacity planning and “what if” scenarios.
Among the solutions Virginia Tech evaluated were @Task, CA Clarity, MS Project/Portfolio Server, ProSight, PlanView, Basecamp and Serena, in addition to the TeamDynamixHE PPM Suite.
Ultimately, for Virginia Tech, it came down to TeamDynamixHE’s value and focus on the higher education environment.
“TeamDynamixHE provided most of the features of a $100,000-plus system at a price that met our budget, and its user interface was also very clean and fairly intuitive,” commented McCrery. “TeamDynamixHE is also the only PPM product designed specifically for higher education, and our observation is that it is being adopted extensively by other institutions and the community is growing.”
The web-based software is currently being used by the 11 members of the school’s Enterprise Systems Managers Group (ESMG), which represents directors, managers, project and technical leads from across the five units within Virginia Tech Enterprise Systems.
The Benefits of TeamDynamixHE for Virginia TechTeamDynamixHE serves as the central clearing house for processing and documenting all non-maintenance requests in Enterprise Systems. Included in the suite is TD Analysis, which provides a complete overview of all projects across the ESMG, and TD Project Request, which provides a consistent set of criteria for all new requests coming in across Virginia Tech’s campus.
Regarding the system’s benefits, McCrery stated, “Transparency and compliance are the immediate benefits Enterprise Systems has received from TeamDynamixHE. The system provides us with a framework to formally document our change management process while centralizing all project activities so that all teams and stakeholders understand what is happening across the organization.”
The next step for Virginia Tech is to expand on its early success with the software and capitalize on the other modules of the software.
“We plan to leverage TeamDynamixHE’s Resource Management capabilities in our projects to better enable capacity planning for future projects. While not fully in use at Virginia Tech, this module has the potential for significant value in our organization. TeamDynamix has been excellent to work with and their extensive knowledge of project management has been critical to our success.”
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