University of Colorado Information Systems (UIS)
Achieving Excellence in Project Management with a Centralized Approach
“Since team members input actual hours spent on each project, managers can better understand work-flow patterns and staff capacity. As a result, they can better support the needs of team members who are under a heavy workload.”
– Ridawn Cummings, Director of the Project Management Office (PMO), UIS
With TeamDynamix Project Portfolio Management, the PMO in the University of Colorado University Information Systems (UIS) department has a bigger, broader view across four different campuses.
When the University of Colorado System realized it needed to revamp its UIS department, it set off with the goal of providing clear project prioritization, standardization, visibility for all major projects, and promoting effective resource utilization.
The University of Colorado is comprised of four distinct campuses with over 60,000 degree-seeking students. As the state’s third-largest employer, CU has a workforce of more than 30,000. The UIS department within the System Administration office provides technical services and enterprise applications across the university system. UIS supports the entire community, including staff and students. “We also manage both the portfolio and projects for UIS,” says Ridawn Cummings, director of the Project Office (PMO) within UIS.
To better achieve that goal, the UIS PMO implemented TeamDynamix Project and Portfolio Management (PPM). This cloud-based work management solution is designed to provide the work tools and environment necessary for successful project management and delivery.
“PMO team members and UIS staff were demanding a system where they could go in and update their own tasks and record their own actual hours for work on different projects,” says Cummings. “So, when we transitioned to TeamDynamix PPM,” Cummings continues, “they were particularly excited about the My Work application, which gives them more control over their work.”
As TeamDynamix explains, the My Work application is a one-stop shop for interacting with TeamDynamix projects. It also tracks all project assignments with one easy-to-use tool.
Prior to rolling out the TeamDynamix PPM tool, Cummings and her team used PowerPoint and various Web site templates to manage projects. “Overall, our old system was pretty antiquated. We used one MS project file to store all data for all of our projects,” says Cummings, “and only one person was able to access it at any one time.”
With TeamDynamix, resource managers can get a better picture of employee workloads, which helps improve project process efficiency. “When an initial request comes in,” says Cummings, “we lay the estimated roles needed for the project on top of our current portfolio to see if we can handle the request in light of our other current commitments. Overall, it gives us a bigger, broader view of both the project level and then at the portfolio level and how that project plays into it. As a result, we now know that if we say yes to a project, we are doing so in light of our resource allocations.”
THE DECISION PROCESS
Before deciding on TeamDynamix, the PMO first identified the department’s requirements. It then asked for proposals based on those requirements. “In the end what we found, was that for our requirements and in light of our budget, TeamDynamix was the best fit,” she says.
One of the key features of TeamDynamix was the fact that the company focuses on higher education as opposed to other industries. “That was an important selling point for us,” says Cummings, “because it provides us with a larger community of people to talk with who have similar project processes or similar project challenges.”
Since rolling out TeamDynamix PPM a year and a half ago, the PMO has used the system to handle a number of projects, including a degree audit upgrade designed to help students understand their credit status in terms of earning their degree. “We also used the system for upgrading both our HR systems and our Finance system,” she says.
The PMO is currently using TeamDynamix PPM to analyze the prospect of a data center move. “That involves analyzing the complexity of the move since it would impact all of our campuses,” says Cummings. “The TeamDynamix PPM tool is helping us analyze what the risks are, what resources are needed, things like that.”
Regarding the roll-out, Cummings says they did a “cold-stop, hot-start scenario.” They transitioned all projects either in planning or execution into the TeamDynamix system. At the same time, they shut down their previous system. “So we were immediately only within one system,” she says.
As with any new technology, there is always a learning curve. “We created quick reference guides that focused on the needs of a variety of users from team members to project managers,” she says.
In discussing the benefits of TeamDynamix, Cummings frequently mentions the word efficiency. “TeamDynamix has increased our project process efficiency in a number of ways,” she says. “For example, I had one employee who would take a day and a half to create weekly resource management reports (in between, of course, other work that needed to be done). But the minute we switched over to TeamDynamix and figured out how to utilize the analysis tool, the time was reduced to a half a day for many more departments.”
Another benefit, says Cummings, is the workflow mechanism. This shows users how to go through a project request process. “That is very helpful,” she says. “Users just follow the steps on the screen.”
A third benefit, says Cummings, is the capacity planner tool. “That has been very helpful to us in understanding where our pain points are if we lay another project on top of our load and what we need to do with our timeline or scope to immediately mitigate those pain points from the very beginning. As a result, the tool helps us better serve our customers and their expectations.”
The bottom line, from a resource management perspective, is the TeamDynamix PPM product has helped the PMO manage resources within projects. It has also helped supervisors in having a better view of what’s going on with their employees’ time. “Since team members input actual hours spent on each project,” she says, “managers can better understand workflow patterns and staff capacity. As a result, they can better support the needs of team members who are under a heavy workload.”
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
For IT professionals who may be thinking about transitioning to project and portfolio management software, Cummings offers three pieces of advice. ““Know your process well first,” she says. “Next, create your requirements from that. Finally, start vetting the different tools in the market based on whatever budget point or price point you have.”
When considering different project management vendors, Cummings also suggests writing out test cases and getting access to a sandbox with the vendors to test the functionality. “That will help you develop a deeper Q&A with the vendor,” says Cummings, “to make sure their products meet your needs. TeamDynamix was very helpful in answering those questions and showing us what the tool could do and what it could not do and letting us make the decision from there.”
The decision to deploy TeamDynamix Project and Portfolio Management has not only enhanced the accuracy and quality of project data, says Cummings, but is also helping the PMO at the University of Colorado System better plan, execute and manage its work.