June 18, 2014

ocTEL Week 5: Activity Just one thing, 5.1 and 5.2

Week 5 – Leadership. Management & Keeping on Track

If you only do one thing....Reflect on a TEL Project you have been involved with:

Identify what could have been done better in the planning and implementation stages to improve the project outcomes. Think about what tools and techniques were used to assist with planning and their effectiveness.
ocTEL questions to consider in the reply:
Who were your stakeholders? What resources were used?
How clear/achievable was the project plan? What fallback position, if any, did you build into your plan in the event of full or partial project failure?
Did you celebrate your success and did this encourage further developments?

**The project was to update our middle-ware software that acts between the student enrollment database and our Learning Management System (LMS). Initially a wish-list of features were developed and a sub-set where planned in the first stage. We are currently in the second trial phase of a system to introduce a multi-level process of online course production which includes a peer review feature, giving academics more control of the way that their online unit goes through the unit production process managed by the Office of Learning and Teaching.**

The planning stage only involved a few key people and this could have been expanded to get a more realistic handle on what was required. Stakeholders were clearly defined, however I don't think any formal project management structure was followed. It was more approached as a "technology enhancement" but this tended to turn out like a mushroom...starting small but expanding very quickly.The first trial of the new changes was a failure and was reduced a just a very small number of units. A second trial is now in place and depending on the results of this trial, it will be fully rolled out by the start of the Summer Semester this year.The only fallback position was to stay with the current system with no improvements. This was deemed not suitable given the funding spent on the development of the enhancements. I saw no other documentation of coverage of risk. the limited result of the first trial was not measured or made available to the wider team. It was just put in the drawer and the second trial was promoted. Some of the features were not developed due to funding running out. There has been no plan provided for future funding of this project and lack of proper planning has been the reason that the initial list of features where not completed.There has been no celebration at this stage. No focus on success...just a focus on the second trial and what is 'not working' or 'needs fixing'.


Based upon your evaluation of the project identified in the first activity, what were the “key successes” and “key failures”?

Key Successes - Some of the features that have been developed (online checklist and a self-check mode) are working well during the second trial. Reporting features are being used which is a much needed advancement on the old system.

Key Failures - a lot of aspects of the Peer review process had not been thoroughly tested before the trial. This has been the most problematic part of the current trial. The development of the new features stopped abruptly and left the project leader holding the 'bundle' in it's current state. This caused quite a bit of stress and explanations required of different parts of the system. The main staff member was not supported from the Project Management side and did not have tools to handle the events as they occurred.

Activity 5.2 - RISK ASSESSMENT

Reflect on the “key failures” that you identified for your project in Activity 5.1.

Using the JISC Risk Log I have completed the details for the last Key Failure identified above.

Category Skills
Risk Condition: one person by default gets the project b/c of history in the program, not PM skills
Cause: insufficient analysis of PM skills required and not framing this project correctly (ie: software update)
consequence: resulting in funding running out before features completed, self-training by PM to complete parts of the project and little support for features not working.
Likelihood Medium
Impact High
RAG Amber
Risk Management Approach Have experienced PM staff members included in this project at an early stage. Complete PM structured documents to capture risk and preventative actions required.
Early warning signs/triggers Budget running out and project stages not complete.
Top-down pushes of requirements at last minute mean that original list of requirements change.
Staff member not able to complete work in timely fashion according to original timelines.