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Northern Arizona U Moves to Web-Based Project Portfolio Management

Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff is standardizing its project portfolio management (PPM) on TeamDynamixHE. This Web-based service gives members of the university's IT team a centralized system to manage project requests, prioritize and score potential projects, and streamline the project startup and staffing process.

Some members of the IT staff had rigged up a combination of Microsoft Project with SharePoint but will move away from that with the new application. (That integration is actually inherent in Microsoft's latest generation of Office products, Microsoft Project Server 2010, and SharePoint 2010.)

The first uses will track a paperless project and an e-planning initiative. The latter allows students to select what programs they want to follow, which then produces a list of courses that are available. Based on the student selections, the university can then determine how many courses, classrooms, and teachers will be needed to satisfy the demand.

"While the university has been somewhat successful at managing projects without a centralized system and a true understanding of portfolio planning, our growth and footprint did not give us much confidence that we could continue down the same path," said Patrick Benson, director of Administrative Computing. "We needed a new process, and the fact that TeamDynamixHE is focused on higher education was a significant factor in our decision."

Tracking of project costs and resource usage will also be improved with the new application, according to the university. "Recently, I asked a project manager at a large school what were project management costs for a large project at their university. He did not know and could only tell me the original estimate. In reality, that project ended up costing much more because PM costs were not taken into consideration," Benson said. "We don't want to have to hire several people to come up with a cost analysis for every project. For NAU, we can now go into TeamDynamixHE, click a button, and I can tell the administration every hour and dollar spent on any given project. And it is not costing us an arm and a leg to do."

He added that references from TeamDynamixHE clients Ohio State University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas helped seal the deal.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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