The best-laid plans

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Rose Heaney 6 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #25306

    James Kerr

    Sometimes, no amount of project planning or management is enough to make a project successful. I was tasked once with a project that involved tracking costs and scoping a campus-wide implementation to reduce costs. Details and names are withheld to protect the guilty. The entire campus community would have been affected-faculty, staff, and students. It was an ambitious project, and despite initial challenges in implementation, in the long term would have been tremendously beneficial.

    Considerable resources were put into planning and project management over three years. The plan involved a partnership with another institution. The fallback plan, for us, was that we would proceed with our own solo implementation. Everyone agreed, the plan was excellent, the project was necessary and solid. In the end, we could not secure final approval from the top decision makers because of inter-organization political squabbling. It was very frustrating, but not a complete loss, as the plans that had been developed were still valid for us to move forward on our own.

    A year after we implemented our own installation, the ‘partner’ institution did the same for their own installation, using the same plans we developed during the project. The single project we worked on together yielded two nearly identical installations, at double the cost and each operating independently of the other.

    Even though the partnership project failed, ultimately both institutions achieved their independent goals using resources developed during the joint project phases. Those secondary goals kept a large project’s failure from being completely worthless.

  • #25365

    Rose Heaney

    I can empathise with this Jim – long term, institution (& cross institution) wide projects are often very fraught because of politics and the undue influence of key individuals. Our VLE transition dragged out over an unnecessarily long period due to changes in both IT & corporate senior management leading to interference in the form of ill considered opinions  e.g. “Why do we need to change the VLE?” “Doesn’t the old one still work?” and more significantly the withdrawal of funding that had previously been agreed. We got there in the end because the old VLE was unfit for purpose and there was enough drive from the grassroots to make sure we did but the original project plan was effectively superseded by a much more pragmatic, seat of the pants approach. No doubt some of the problems should have been foreseen and therefore handled better but I think most projects would have foundered with the level of resistance and opposition we encountered.

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