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Starting A Project (#3 in the Hut Introduction to Project Management)
By JISC infoNet

There may be many reasons for initiating a project such as developing a new information system, changing an existing system or changing a business process. For example, in a college or university some common reasons for initiating a project might be:

  • A new strategic direction for the college or university
  • A new requirement for information from a statutory body
  • New internal management information requirements
  • Introduction of a new learning environment
  • New processes for student or other administration
  • Need to replace an ageing system
  • A major software upgrade

It is a fact that systems projects are generally relatively costly, time-consuming and disruptive. It is therefore to be hoped that, whatever the reason for considering a project, the senior management team of the institution will consider the project in terms of its place in an overall strategy.

In an ideal world a senior manager (soon to become your Project Sponsor) would present you with a Project Brief that outlined what they had in mind for the project and how it fitted in with the institution’s strategies and plans. You would then be charged to go away and work up a Business Case that investigated the feasibility of the project including the likely timescales and costs and whether it would indeed deliver the expected benefits.

In the real world it is just as likely that you will be told to go away and deliver something by such and such a date, at no more than such and such a cost, and left to get on with it. Let’s just think back to the why projects fail section and you can probably guess that we would advise you against doing just that. Time spent properly defining the project can save you much cost, effort and heartache later on.

JISC infoNet aims to be the UK’s leading advisory service for managers in the post-compulsory education sector promoting the effective strategic planning, implementation and management of information and learning technology.

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