Project Portfolio Management for Education

pmo for Education

Planning for education institutions and organisations, particularly higher education institutions, is a daunting task. Education institutions not only have to balance different types of projects from academic to ICT projects, they also have to consider a wide range of stakeholders such as students, industry partners, governmental bodies and more with the additional issue of mixed funding streams with unique requirements of use.

What often ends up happening in large educational organisations is that departments and/or faculties begin operating as individual silos. You start seeing ineffective projects being selected, projects overshooting budgets, missed opportunities for collaboration or even clashes between different faculties occurring.

All these issues could be solved if organisations had the right tools and systems in place. And that’s where pmo365 steps in.

How does pmo365 help education institutions?

We help education institutions in a whole range of ways, including:

Real-time information

Giving governing bodies full visibility and control over all portfolios with accurate real-time data to ensure all activities are both strategically aligned and meeting benchmarks.

Collated data

Integrating all your data, processes and tools across your organisation onto a single platform so you don’t lose any valuable information.

Improved decision making

Making sure you choose the right projects, right methods and right people to make the most out of your portfolio.

Two separate operating portfolios (Assets and ICT)

Enabling education institutions to have two separate operating portfolios (Assets and ICT), while maintaining a single governing and reporting function

Complete training & support

Adapting and optimising your current methodologies and practices. We provide all the necessary training to all your teams, no matter what approach they use, can bring out the full potential of the pmo365 platform,

Enabling collaboration between departments

Easing communication and fostering collaboration between departments and faculties to make the most of shared resources

Simplified automated project governance and resource management

Improving accountability and consistency in delivery through simplified and automated project governance and resource management tools to optimise project results.

Challenges for PPM in the education sector

The education sector has its own unique challenges that can be solved through the implementation of a PPM system. Though there are plenty of challenges we go into detail later, we’ve identified four top challenges for the sector overall.

1. Strategic alignment of projects and activities within educational organisations

With such a wide range of projects, from education to research to operations and some even occurring in a geographically-dispersed manner, it becomes increasingly difficult to visualise and align project outcomes and activities to the organization’s overall strategic objectives and goals. This is further complicated when measurement of value and progress are not the same between different parties within the organisation. PPM systems can help bridge this gap by integrating all systems, processes and tools onto a single platform to give key decision makers the complete visibility and control to make informed decisions on a strategic level.

2. Financial funding sources and availability

Large educational organisations such as universities often have mixed streams of income and funding. Many educational organisations are publicly funded and thus have the duty to ensure their services are high quality, high value and accessible. Different funding sources also often come with specific requirements for their use which can make the proper funding allocation a complex process. As educational organisations continue to grow, it becomes increasingly important to have effective systems in place that can efficiently allocate funding and optimise the resources within a portfolio of investments.

3. Communication between different departments

Due to the increased complexity of funding, different operational processes and increased stakeholder pressure, large educational organisations often end up splitting up into department or faculty based silos as there is either no practical means for effective communication or the organisation has yet to reap the full benefits of the communication and collaboration capabilities that can be achieved through an effective PPM system. An effective PPM system allows for smooth, standardised and organized collaboration across different teams as all the organisations tools and data is shared on a single platform. Sharing resources across faculties and departments is an important factor for optimising portfolios as projects become more and more cross-boundary and integrative.

4. Varied methodologies and needs within portfolios

Large educational organisations have to carry out a wide range of activities and projects that use different methodologies and processes. Capital asset management projects are more likely to use Waterfall approaches wherein ICT related projects are more likely to use iterative methodologies like Agile. Due to these differences, different portfolios, departments and teams often end up using different softwares and tools to suit their own processes. However, this often exacerbates the departmental silo issue faced by organisations. An effective PPM system is able to accommodate and adapt to the needs of any workflow and methodology, making the organisation more centralized, transparent and unified.

What is the Project Portfolio Management process for educational organisations?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to PPM and our goal at pmo365 is adapt to your organisation’s needs to find the right processes and tools to get the results you desire. The following structure is simply an outline of the common structure taken by organisations within the education industry that we have encountered. We’ll walk you through how pmo365 can support educational organisations through every step of their PPM process

Educational organisations typically have two core portfolios (though not limited to these two alone). These portfolios are:  1.) Asset related portfolio and 2.) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related portfolio. Each portfolio has their own process and methodologies that can benefit from an effective PPM system.

“This has been a successful implementation. We have very successfully introduced a world-class PPM system that fully support the PMO in its execution of projects at BPAY.”
Sean Nairn
BPay

Managing asset-related portfolios in educational organisations

Assets are items of value the organisation owns ranging from physical equipment to intellectual properties. For educational organisations this includes the building and maintaining of facilities such as school buildings, libraries, labs, pathways and parks. With large organisations that are physically-based like universities, these activities make up a large portion of the organisation’s operation and is an area that requires optimisation.

Three core functions within asset-related portfolios

There are three core functions within an asset-related portfolio: updating, maintaining and creating new assets.

Updating assets

Physical assets and equipment often require frequent updating to make sure that the most effective and efficient technologies are in place. For the case of universities, labs are constantly requiring new and updated equipment to match the advancements within the field and make the most out of their research. As learning becomes increasingly digital and technological, learning spaces need to be updated to accommodate these technologies with updates such as new digital smartboards and collaborative equipment. 

PPM systems support this continual asset updating process by simplifying the planning and execution process of these projects by providing in-system risk assessment, resource management, schedule management tools, and more.

Maintaining assets

Similar to updating, assets also need to be consistently maintained to make sure they are running at peak performance and will not incur large repair costs and outages in future. Like asset updates, asset maintenance can also be planned, coordinated and executed within a project framework.

PPM systems are able to make asset maintenance fuss-free by automating recurring tasks and projects just as easily as planning recurring events in your calendar. pmo365 makes this even easier as we can integrate all your processes, tools and data across the entirety of your organisation so no matter who picks up the job, they’ll have all the data they need to complete the task.

Creating new assets

As the demand for education grows, so do the needs for physical assets. New hardware, buildings or even campuses might be needed. These types of projects, often called capital works projects, take on all the necessary processes within a project – ranging from risk management, cost management, resource management and more. With an effective PPM system, these processes can all be standardized, centralized and scaled up to projects of any size.

Due to the nature of these projects, external contracting is one of the most common approaches. However, communicating, collaborating and maintaining relations with so many external parties can get very convoluted. Additionally, the multitude of contracts and their variants makes handling a large quantity of projects an almost impossible task. To add onto this, funding sources are varied and need to be allocated properly within their given requirements.

pmo365 is able to solve these issues as its collaborative and integrative features allow for smooth and practical communication within teams and with external parties to make sure all the relevant information and data is being used when handling contracts and professional communication. Contract management no longer has to float through several systems and hands when all the information is centralized on one single platform. Additionally, our system easily identifies and evaluates the funding sources to allow for easy allocation to specific projects.

Managing ICT- related portfolios in educational organisations

As the education sector becomes increasingly digitized, continually growing and updating information and communication technologies (ICTs) are no longer on the periphery of an educational organisation’s operations, but are now a strategic function. From updating new student learning platforms to implementing new project management softwares, all types of ICT projects are running within an organisations portfolio.

However, one of the biggest challenges in educational organisations is that ICT projects are still being managed with traditional Waterfall approaches as commonly seen in asset-related project management. However, those traditional approaches do not provide organisations with the agility, flexibility and control they need to excel within this space. That is why ICT management approaches have shifted away from project-based waterfall approaches to product-based iterative approaches.

ICT portfolio management

Though ICT portfolios and asset portfolios have the same underlying goal – to manage and optimise their portfolios to achieve the highest value – their processes are inherently different. From how the plan projects to how they attribute value, projects within these portfolios can often sound like two completely different languages.

Where traditional asset management approaches focus on a more linear understanding of projects, having a clear start and end, ICT projects often run on iterative approaches that see projects in a cyclical view. Instead of a perfected and finalized project, ICT projects are often ongoing and improve through several rounds or ‘sprints’ to achieve specific goals. You can read more about how ICT projects function differently here.

The unique challenges of education-based ICT Management

There are three unique challenges of education-based ICT management:

1. Resource limitations and capacity crunch

1. Resource limitations and capacity crunch

With iterative projects like ICT projects, outsourcing is uncommon as it would disrupt the continual long-term flow and handover process of these projects. Additionally, though projects become smaller in scale, they also increase in frequency. As a result, educational organisations have the daunting task of allocating and scheduling resources within the capacity bounds of the available team members.

An effective PPM system will provide resource management tools that give complete control and visibility over all resources across the entire portfolio. With pmo365, we offer handy tools such as resource heatmaps, plans, dashboards and predictive tools that simplify and streamline the resource management process as much as possible.

2. Agility through real-time visibility and control

Agility is the name of the game in the ICT space. However, many educational organisations do not have proper PPM systems that give the real-time visibility over the activities within their portfolios, leading to slow downs in decision-making processes. 

With pmo365, not only do you gain this critical agility through our real-time platform, our integrative platform means that all activities are centralized to the single platform so teams don’t have to trawl through files and emails to get necessary data. Additionally, our intuitive software provides automated approval systems that streamline communication chains and give you all the agility you need.

3. Increasing need for benefits management

Due to the unique nature of ICT projects, their value and success may not be as easily quantifiable as typical projects. Incremental improvements and new features on a student learning software may not directly equate to monetary value. That is why benefits management is becoming increasingly important as it helps identify and track the benefits of a project and link it directly to the strategic goals of the business to better visualize the value it brings.

pmo365 enhances your benefits management activities by providing benefits tracking and monitoring through the entire project lifecycle, helping benefit owners keep track of their activities as efficiently as possible and ensuring the right templates are in place to select the right projects based on their benefit value.

pmo365 helps educational organisation through their ICT Development Process

ICT projects are typically carried out in four distinct stages: Ideation, strategic planning, development and testing, and launching and commercialisation.

Ideation stage

This is the first stage where base research, brainstorming and validation for potential initiatives or projects are made. It is critical at this stage to have proper systems that not only foster creative thinking but can properly manage, evaluate and store ideas that can add value to the organisation. 

With pmo365, we help you streamline this entire process through our project pipeline management support. We can simplify your idea gathering process, provide critical tools to evaluate the value of proposed ideas, automate approval processes, and integrate systems across the entire organistiona to allow for smooth handover between the ideation stage and the next stage – strategic planning.

Strategic Planning stage

Contrary to project management approaches which often have strong emphasis on sequential scheduling, product management approaches in ICT projects work in roadmaps and hypothesis testing. This gives them flexibility to adapt to new discoveries and quickly respond to changes that occur during the span of the project.

pmo365 supports your organisation during the planning process through integrating all your systems and processes on one platform so your teams can easily communicate the roadmaps and potential changes to all key stakeholders. 

Development and Testing stage

Product development is inherently nonlinear which makes collaborating, planning and improving efficiencies increasingly difficult. With a constantly on-the-go process, the development stage of ICT projects requires an integrative and adaptable system to allow teams to work at their peak capacity.

pmo365 does this by integrating all your systems and processes onto a single platform that allows them to conduct all their activities on a centralized platform. This makes communicating with stakeholders, reorganizing resources and all the many changes that need to be made much easier as they are all contained within the one place.

Launch and Deployment stage

For ICT projects, the launch of a finished project is not the end. The key to this stage is the continual tracking of user experience and feedback which will then inform the next iteration of the product. To help keep a consistent flow, pmo365’s software makes sure projects and products keep the same ID no matter where they are accessed throughout your systems. This makes for stress-free handover processes that keep your teams moment rolling.

pmo365 is the best PPM service for educational organisations

Are you sold on the benefits PPM can bring to your organisation and want to start implementing it now? pmo365 is your best all-in-one packaged service that caters directly to your needs and brings you all the tech, tools and talent together to make your PPM activities stress-free and achieve the results you want to see. 

If you want to know more about how pmo365 can revolutionise your PPM activities, make sure to book a free trial and speak directly with our PPM experts.

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