Representing all interests in a large project

It has long been a goal at the University of Sheffield to create some form of Online Programme Management System, to transform the paper-based programme approvals and specifications processes and to hold programme information in an easily accessible and re-useable format.  Thanks in large part to the JISC course data funding, this is on the way to becoming a reality.

One of the most challenging issues we’re facing at this early project-defining stage is to decide which departments must be involved in the project, and crucially which individuals should participate in decision-making as part of the Project Board or working groups. This is complicated by the following factors:

  • The project has a relatively broad scope, and it will affect many central professional services and all of our academic Faculties and departments
  • It has two closely linked dimensions – business process change and development of an IT solution
  • It is also part of a complex web of dependencies which encompasses other course data projects, for example the project to bring programme regulations online – the process and technical outcomes of these two projects must fit together
  • The time of many key people is already being taken up with work on the many other course data projects – this is acting as a constraint on our project even while it is helping us to promote awareness of the issues with course data management

We were considering holding a Lean event, but given the staff time constraint mentioned above, this is unlikely to be possible.  As the project assistant I have been consulting with staff across professional services in order to map their business processes, and this work is being used to identify stakeholders.  We also have a fortnightly programme data ‘catch-up’ meeting which includes some operational staff.

I was wondering how any similar projects have gone about identifying stakeholders and ensuring that no key interests go unrepresented, without allowing the Project Board and similar groups to grow too large (as nearly everyone uses course data in some way!)?  If you have multiple course data projects, are you involving the same operational representatives in each?