How Did Peter Piper Pick His Projects and Prune His Project Pipeline?

Do you know how many projects your office is working on at one time? Or do you have too many projects coming in and not enough resources to implement them? Learn how the Registrar's Office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison figured out how to manage their project pipeline by implementing a Project Prioritization Process.

This week, AACRAO talked with Leslie A. Gardner, PeopleSoft Developer/Project Manager and Phil Hull, Associate Registrar for Application Development and Technical Services from University of Wisconsin-Madison on their session "How Did Peter Piper Pick His Projects and Prune His Project Pipeline?"

Leslie A. Gardner

PeopleSoft Developer/Project Manager

University of Wisconsin-Madison


Phil Hull

Associate Registrar for Application Development and Technical Services

University of Wisconsin-Madison


How Did Peter Piper Pick His Projects and Prune His Project Pipeline?

Monday, July 13, 2015 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM

May you please give a brief description of your session?

Gardner:  In our session we will discuss how we implemented a project prioritization process in the Registrar’s office here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  A year and a half ago we discussed a way to start prioritizing projects.  We had been doing every project that was coming to us and knew that we needed a way to push back.  As a result, we developed the project prioritization process.  This process allows us to tie projects to strategic goals of the department.  The leadership team is able to score and rank what projects are most important to work on at that point in time.  The secondary piece of this project is that it allows us to manage our project portfolio so that we can see what we are working on, when we are able to start working on another project, and which projects we should stop working on.

How did your office come up with the idea for a project prioritization process?

Gardner: Our office was going through a reorganization and one of the outputs was the creation of a project management service team.  At that point we didn’t have a framework or project management standards, but they were something important for our office to pursue.  Our project management service team consists of seven people and we have been able to tackle some of these issues one by one.

Hull: From a management or leadership point of view, the desire was to better align our project portfolio to campus and divisional strategies, strategic goals, and to optimize resource utilization.

Did your office have to implement new technologies to use this system? Or were you able to implement this using technology that you already had in the office?

Gardner:  At first we did not have any tools, we were working on spreadsheets.  Now we have migrated to using Confluence wiki; this allows us to publish documents and lists in one place that everyone can access.

Does your office gather to discuss project prioritization as projects come up? Or are projects discussed and prioritized at set times?

Gardner: Originally we would hold big project meetings with leadership to rank projects once every quarter.  We have since moved towards working in a more adaptive way: as projects come in they are pitched to leadership and rated afterwards.  This helps so that we don’t have big meetings every quarter and projects don’t have to wait to be approved.

Was there any staff resistance to implementing this process?

Gardner:  There was a challenge trying to get leadership to buy in to the process.  By addressing this as something very important to our office, leadership was able to buy into this.  Office staff and project managers have been accepting of the process; though it can be daunting because of the new process that they have to go through.

Hull:  The process does create more up front work for the  person proposing a project or new solution, but I think that we have been able to articulate the benefits of the documentation and process.


Gardner:  And that was by design, we didn’t want to work on every idea that came to us.We needed to know that some of the ideas have been thought through and vetted by our leadership team.

What do you hope session attendees will walk away with at the end of this session?

Gardner:  We hope attendees will see this as something they can do without fancy tools.  We’re a functional office and we want to show that other functional offices can get an easy handle on their own projects.  They will be able to see that you don’t need a big IT staff to do this.

What are you looking forward to at this years conference?

Hull: I’m looking forward to exploring Austin, particularly the music scene if we get a chance to head out.

Gardner: This is my first time attending the conference and will be my first time in Austin.