Projects are undertakings that are time-bound (have an end), produce a unique output/deliverable that adds value to the university, and are executed under agreed-upon constraints.
Specific to Illinois Tech, projects need to:
- directly align with one or more of our strategic priorities
- have financial justification (direct or indirect cost savings) that can be measured
- support enterprise and cloud-based technology, where possible
HOW ARE PROJECTS CONDUCTED?
Project Managers (PMs) use the agile methodology for most projects, which focuses on continuous improvement and expects a certain level of adaptability when it is justified. (An exception is system upgrades, which use a linear waterfall approach where the project timeline, requirements, and deliverables are set at the beginning of the project and do not change.) Regardless of the method, all projects require plans and timelines, created and maintained by the project manager. General phases for all projects are as follows:
There are two project rotations per year.
- Rotation 1: January-June
- Rotation 2: July-December
The project submission and selection process is outlined via this Project Lifecycle Visual, and below. See our frequently asked questions at the bottom of this page about projects that extend beyond a project rotation.
Timing and Preparation
Project requests can be submitted at any time throughout the year, however, it is important that you plan ahead for your project submissions so that we can work with you to create a project timeline that meets your needs and works with our project rotation timeline. For example, if you want to implement a new system in the beginning of the calendar year, the project needs to be conducted in the second rotation of the previous year so that there is enough time to plan, test, and implement the work. Because the PMO needs to balance staff resources among other projects, you should assume that any given project will need the full project rotation to be completed. Please plan accordingly.
Are you considering submitting a project request to the PMO? Take a look at our FAQs below, in addition to the Project Request Example Form so that you are familar with what information is needed and can prepare your answers related to how it adds value (ROI).
Project Submission and Selection
Project requests can come from staff or faculty at the managerial level or above through our PMO project request form. (See a list of questions, or "practice form" here: PMO Request Example.) Requests can be submitted at any time throughout the year. Once the submission deadline passes, PMs may reach out to project requestors to fill in any gaps from the request -- this is within the project analysis phase. For divisions where there are multiple projects submitted, the director of the PMO will meet with executive sponsors of those areas (VP/dean level) and ask them to rank projects submitted within their divisions. Then the PMO compiles a list of these prioritized projects to be rated by the Stakeholder Committee. Note that university priorities and/or mandatory strategic initiatives may be automatically selected for the upcoming rotation based on need. These are usually determined by the Provost.
The PMO sends the compiled prioritized projects to the Stakeholder Committee to review and rank. An average weighted score is calculated from the Stakeholder Committee ratings, using project ranking criteria. Categories are weighted based on importance. When necessary, the PMO will hold a Stakeholder Committee meeting to allow discussion of the initial ratings and any discrepancies. An executive report is presented to the Provost and CIO to confirm which projects the PMO will work on for the upcoming rotation. The PMO communicates the selected projects to the stakeholders and the Illinois Tech community.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I know if my issue would be considered a project, vs. an “enhancement request?”
When is a project a new request vs. an OTS support desk ticket?
- An enhancement is an improvement of an existing application or system, which requires minimal OTS development hours, and is requested via an OTS support desk ticket. Individuals who submit enhancement requests will be contacted by an OTS support staff member, based on the information provided in the ticket. The Director of Enterprise Systems and the department head of the requestor will determine the priority of the request and schedule the work accordingly. These requests are typically straightforward and do not need the support of a project manager.
- Examples of enhancements: adding a new population to an existing dataset, adding single-sign-on (SSO), creating Banner workflows, making modifications to existing reports, or adding Xtender (digital document repository) to your process.
- A new project is a stand alone request, OR a request that is a significant improvement of an existing application, and therefore requires significant enough support from OTS teams to constitute a full project plan, including deliverables, milestones, and timelines, with the support of project manager.
The PMO understands it may be difficult to estimate how much development work may be involved when you make a request, so we encourage you to reach out to the PMO beforehand, or to submit a support desk ticket providing background information on the request or problem.
2. Does my request have to be technology-related? To what extent?
No. Most requests do include technology changes in the form of 1) a system improvement, 2) implementation of a new technology solution, or 3) major upgrades to a current system. However, if you have a request that falls outside of these categories, please contact the PMO first to discuss your needs. If there is significant need and justification, and especially if the project would require collaboration across many departments, the PMO may be able to help.
For example, the PMO assisted with a 2020 academic reorganization, when the College of Computing was established. This change necessitated a reorganization of the existing colleges and departments, and the PMO helped different offices identify which of their internal business processes and dataflows needed to be updated.
3. I can define what the problem is, but I don’t know what the solution should be. Can the PMO help?
Can the PMO help me/my department determine a solution? What if I’m not confident in the solution to my problem or messy business process?
If this is the case, we recommend reaching out to us prior to submitting a project. Typically we want a solution identified prior to a project being accepted, especially in situations when the recommended solution requires a project budget, like purchasing a new system or service. However, we do factor in time for analysis in between a project submission and a project start date, when PMs lead exercises to document a current state process, identify gaps and inefficiencies, and lead the creation of a business process redesign. Again, we recommend you reach out to us first, since engagement in this kind of analysis may be dependent on the scope and complexity of the problem/project, and the anticipated timeline.
4. Does my project have to be completed within a PMO rotation?
What if I’m concerned it will take longer? Can I still submit a project request?
You may still submit a project request for larger projects that will likely span multiple project rotations. To the extent possible, the PMO plans projects within our two rotation cycles—January-June, and July-December—to coordinate necessary technical resources that are shared among projects, like development hours. However, we acknowledge that not all projects can or should be completed within these boundaries.