From the CIO

From the CIO

Kelly Block serves as Interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the University of Illinois System.

For more information about Kelly, visit About the CIO.

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(Reprinted in part with permission of

After our ERP migration in 2004, we had a large backlog of improvements and integrations, so we established a specific governance process that consisted of cross-campus subcommittees representing the functions of finance, HR, and student business processes. Our customers can choose to participate in any aspect of this process. Some write their own proposals, while others add their own local development resources to the projects. All of the work is managed through the centralized GPPMO.

"A successful office should have all of these components, that is, a GPPM office: IT governance, portfolio and project management"

Regardless of the shape or size of governance, it needs to have something specific to govern, or else the process will become sparsely-attended with unfocused discussion that meander indefinitely. Our IT governance process has been sustained because it directly manages resources. Specifically, there are 70,000 hours of project time and $1.4M of annual funding managed by the governance group. The committees are active and engaged because they direct the allocation of centralized resources to their campus needs. Since the pool of resources is finite, the group must discuss and prioritize to achieve the greatest impact for the least cost.

In order to have effective guidance for the governance process, IT should be part of the planning process in an organization. The Society for College and University Planning defines integrated planning as a process to promote academic, financial, facilities and IT planning in a repeatable, rational, and collaborative manner. SCUP tells us not to plan in silos and then toss the latest draft of the plan from group to group. Plan together and be transparent. In our case, the Administrative IT Services (AITS) department developed strategic objectives that enable faculty and students by freeing up more of their time.

While it may be tempting to not have a governance framework, there must be something in place. If there is no process for people to decide and prioritize collectively, it will lead to an “order taker” mindset where individual customers feel free to ask the IT department for any type of project because they do not have the awareness of the requests from others. Consequently, every customer group will believe that their priorities are the highest priorities because they did not actively participate in the process of looking across business units to prioritize what is most important for the university.

A good portfolio and project management office knows what resources are available and when projects will start and finish. In our environment, the portfolio and project management office is well suited to facilitate IT governance. Additionally, the group manages and schedules resources, monitors and controls the portfolio, develops the corporate project management center of excellence, and completes projects. A successful office should have all of these components, that is, a GPPM office:  IT governance, portfolio and project management. This allows the same group of people to look from beginning to end of the project process.

Do you have examples of other ways to prioritize projects and ensure the right people are involved in the planning process? 

Learn more about expanding governance to include other business model components in Part III of this discussion.

Posted by Wendy Bertram  On May 27, 2016 at 10:23 AM