Part A: Preliminary
1. Purpose of policy
The University is committed to continuously improving the delivery of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions within budget, on schedule, and in such as way as to maximise the benefits realised by the University. This policy outlines a framework that promotes consistency and improved control of ICT projects, thereby reducing risks and increasing project successes.
A consistent, structured approach to the way that ICT projects are initiated, planned, implemented and finalised, will improve the University’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances in a timely manner, whilst ensuring that fiscal responsibility is maintained and quality outcomes are achieved.
The major goals of this policy are to:
- Improve the quality of project deliverables.
- Increase the number of projects completed on time and within budget.
- Improve control over project requests and workload.
- Enhance control over project changes and “scope creep”.
- Ensure that projects are aligned with business objectives.
2. Application of policy
This policy applies to all staff and other members of the University community involved in the initiation and/or delivery of any type of ICT project.
3. Guiding principles
The following principles underpin this policy:
Quality: Projects should always produce value for money, fit-for-purpose products and service solutions, delivered in a professional, efficient manner;
Timeliness: Projects should be completed on time and, when necessary, schedule adjustments should be made through a carefully considered process;
Teamwork: All project staff members should work together, share knowledge and information, and cooperate to deliver quality projects;
Consistency: Projects should be managed in a consistent fashion to maximise staff productivity and to take advantage of prior experiences;
Business Value: All projects, regardless of size or scope, should be linked to business objectives;
Communication: Projects should be managed to ensure that all parties are continually informed of progress, problems and changes to ensure support and effective participation; and
Flexibility: Project management practices should be structured to suit organisational needs and capacities, as well as project requirements. They should be scalable, so that reasonable practices are applied to projects of lesser scope, duration, risk and visibility.
In this policy the following definitions apply:
ICT Project Business Case means the justification for an ICT project which contains costs, benefits, risks and timescales, and against which continuing viability is tested.
Business System Owner (BSO) means the staff member who has responsibility for the security of the data and application component of the Information Asset and is also accountable for those aspects of the Information System.
Feasibility Studies means the evaluation of technology and its use, and may involve the selection of technical solutions and recommendations for future strategies.
ICT Project means a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a product or service that includes a significant ICT component such as the implementation of a new system or substantial modifications to an existing one.
ICT Program means a set of related ICT Projects and activities in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the University's strategic objectives. A programme is likely to have a life that spans several years.
ICT Portfolio means all the ICT Programs and stand-alone ICT Projects being undertaken by the University.
ICT Steering Committee means either or both of the ICT Steering Committee for Administrative Systems and Services and/or the ICT Steering Committee for Academic Systems
PRINCE2 is the internationally recognised project management methodology adopted by USC as a foundation for the ICT Project Management Framework.
Project Initiation Document (PID) means a document which brings together the key information needed to start the project on a sound basis and to convey that information to all concerned with the project.
ICT Request Classification Model means the method by which ICT projects are classified as Major, Medium or Minor. These classifications are based on a combination of cost, effort, level of complexity, risk profile, and impact. Examples of recent ICT projects and their classifications are:
- Major APIP; Finance Project.
- Medium Website CMS; Recfind Upgrade.
- Minor Wireless Rollout; Mediasite Rollout.
Requestor – with assistance from IT Services, the Requestor is responsible for the development of the ICT Project Business Case and for submitting a formal ICT Project Request.
Cost Centre Manager – is responsible for approving the ICT Project Request prior to submission.
ICT Steering Committees – are responsible for the ranking and prioritisation of all Major and Medium projects based on their urgency and strategic value to the University.
Members of the University Executive are responsible for advising the Vice-Chancellor and President regarding the approval of all major projects prior to their commencement and for adjudicating on conflicting project priorities.
The Project Sponsor has overall responsibility for ensuring that a project meets its objectives and delivers the projected benefits and must ensure that the project maintains its business focus, that it has clear authority and that the work, including risks, is actively managed. The Project Sponsor is normally the Business Systems Owner.
The Project Steering Group is responsible for the strategic direction and management of the project and for reporting to the University Executive. The Steering Group is responsible for approving budgetary strategy, defining and realising benefits, and monitoring risks, quality and timeliness, and is chaired by the Project Sponsor.
The Project Manager is responsible for the day to day running of a project. This includes planning, delegating, monitoring and control of all aspects of the project, and the motivation of those involved, to achieve the project objectives within the expected performance targets for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risks.
The Project Management Office (PMO) is responsible for assisting project managers by providing a framework for managing ICT projects within the University (including templates and tools), reviewing project deliverables, offering advice and guidance, and supporting specific project activities (such as vendor management). The PMO is also responsible for monitoring and high-level reporting across the entire ICT Portfolio.
Part B: Policy
6. Use of the ICT project management framework
6.1. ICT projects will be managed in accordance with the University’s ICT project management framework as maintained within the USC ICT Project and Portfolio Management Manual. This framework is modelled on best practices promoted by the internationally recognised PRINCE2 methodology, appropriately tailored to the specific circumstances of the University.
7. Project identification and selection
7.1. ICT Projects will normally be identified for inclusion in the Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP) during the University’s planning and budgeting cycle.
7.2. ICT Project initiatives not identified within the SAMP are to be proposed through a formal ICT Project Request.
7.3. ICT Projects will be classified using the ICT Request Classification Model as Major, Medium or Minor, with the classification determining the level of governance and documentation required. The characteristics of each ICT project classification are identified in Schedule 1.
7.4. A formal ICT Project Business Case must be prepared for all Major or Medium projects. This will include provision for a (fully funded) Feasibility Study as the first phase of any Major project unless the alternative solutions and costs of implementation are well understood. An outline ICT Project Business Case is provided in Schedule 2.
7.5. All new initiatives classified as Major or Medium will be referred to one or both of the ICT Steering Committees for consideration and prioritisation.
7.6. Projects will be ranked and prioritised based on their urgency and strategic value to the University, taking into account potential impacts on existing initiatives. New projects will normally be added to the SAMP and scheduled for future years. Projects will only be fast-tracked and scheduled for action in the current year on approval from the Vice-Chancellor and President.
7.7. Requests for Change or Enhancement to existing ICT systems submitted to IT Services (eg. via Application Support Groups) may also be evaluated as projects using the ICT Request Classification Model and referred to the ICT Steering Committee(s) if appropriate.
7.8. Once identified, all ICT projects will be registered in the USC ICT Project Database, along with a brief description of the scope of the project and other relevant details.
8. Project resources and funding
8.1. Projects will not be considered to be approved nor will they commence until the sources of funds have been identified and committed. This applies to projects identified in the SAMP as well as to other initiatives.
8.2. All ICT projects must be fully costed. Project costing will cover all capital expenditure and implementation cost associated with the project, including hardware, software and service fees. Any Annual Support & Maintenance (ASM) fees payable in the first year of operation will be included, and recurring costs over the first 5 years identified and documented.
8.3. All internal staffing requirements (both business area and IT Services) must be identified and costed in the project budget. In the case where it is necessary to hire or back-fill, all associated costs must be fully funded.
8.4. A minimum of an additional 15% of identified budgeted costs will be set aside for contingency funds for all ICT projects.
8.5. Cost Centre Operational budgets are to be adjusted to reflect changes to recurring costs resulting from any ICT Project.
9. Project governance and control
9.1. All ICT projects will be assigned a Project Sponsor and a Project Manager. The Project Sponsor will normally be the Business Systems Owner (BSO).
9.2. A Project Steering Group must be established for all Major projects, with the Project Sponsor as Chairperson, and senior User and IT Services representatives.
9.3. The IT Services Executive team will act as the Project Steering Group in cases where a separate body is not established for an ICT Project.
9.4. Project Managers will report to the Project Steering Group on a regular basis with the frequency of meetings and reporting determined by the Steering Group.
9.5. Project Managers assigned to Major projects must have appropriate training and/or experience.
9.6. A formal process for managing changes to scope, budget or schedule must be implemented for all Major and Medium projects.
9.7. Major projects will be reviewed by the Project Steering Group at each significant stage, to determine whether the project should continue to the next stage or be closed down.
10. Project definition and planning
10.1. All projects must have goals, scope and requirements clearly defined prior to commencement.
10.2. For all Major and Medium projects, detailed Functional and Technical specifications must be documented and signed off by the Project Sponsor and the Director, IT Services or designate.
10.3. A Project Initiation Document must be produced for all Major and Medium projects, and will be approved by the Project Steering Group prior to the commencement of the implementation phase.
10.4. A resource plan must be developed for all Major and Medium projects, clearly identifying all University and external human resources (by skill type and level) required for the project. Periods required and FTE commitment levels should be identified relative to project start date.
10.5. A budget for all Major and Medium projects must be developed, broken down to the level of Natural Account wherever possible, and loaded into the USC’s Finance system.
10.6. A Risk register must be created at the start of all Major projects, with potential risks identified along with strategies to manage those risks.
10.7. A formal Communications Plan, covering all stakeholders, must be produced for all Major projects.
10.8. A Change Management Plan (including but not limited to training) must be developed for all Major and Medium projects. For Major projects, this may involve the use of external expertise. Training plans and business process training will normally be the responsibility of the Business System Owner.
10.9. Projects must comply with the University’s Records Management policy.
11. Project closure
11.1. All Major projects will be formally handed over to functional and IT Services operations groups, ensuring that adequate training and documentation has been provided prior to the event.
11.2. A Post Implementation Review (PIR) will be conducted for all Major projects 3-6 months after the new system or modifications are moved into production. This review will document:
Schedule 1: ICT Request Classification Model
Schedule 2: Project Business Case Template
- Whether the project met the original goals.
- Any follow-on activities required to maximise the benefits to the University.
- Lessons learned.
- ICT Request Classification Model (PDF 55 KB)
- ICT Request Classification Model (Word 131 KB)
- Project Business Case Template (PDF 132 KB)
- Project Business Case Template (Word 376 KB)