UIS Project Life Cycle
Every project UIS engages in occurs in five stages: request, initiation, planning, execution, and closing. It's important to note that any project you might want to engage in requires a team effort, so wherever you see "we" or "us" here, that includes you, as well as UIS— and often other interested parties, as well.
You have an initiative that requires UIS help, so you submit a UIS Project Request form. The request gives UIS a preliminary view of the project, its purpose, and a general sense of what it will entail, along with some preliminary estimates of the UIS resources (e.g. personnel, equipment, funding) required. UIS will assess the project to determine its technical feasibility, its alignment with university strategic plans, and the availability of UIS resources. If that assessment determines that UIS can take the project on, the request will be approved and moved to the next stage: initiation.
A more detailed explanation of what to expect when you request a project can be found on our web page about Requesting a UIS Project.
Initiation is when both you and UIS work together to develop enough information to formalize the project, assign someone outside of UIS to act as its sponsor, and identify someone to manage the planning and execution of the project. During this stage, we develop a clearer sense of the business requirements (i.e. how we will know when the project is done) and the scope (i.e. clarification of the boundaries of what the project will and won't cover). We'll also develop a list of the project stakeholders, and perform a preliminary review of the key risks the project may face. All of this information is used to help UIS identify the most appropriate person, internally, to manage the project. That project manager will then use the information from the initiation stage as a jump-off point for actually planning the details for how to complete the project.
Now that we have a clearer sense of what the project will and won't include, who needs to be involved, and what the end result of the project needs to be, now the true planning can begin. The project manager will assemble the team of people who need to complete the work, and collaborate with them to list out the steps needed to finish the project, break them down into manageable chunks, assign the right people to complete each of these steps (and determine when they will be available to do so) and then plot all of these steps into a schedule of task assignments. In addition to scheduling what needs to be completed and when, there is also other planning. For example, they need to address what kinds of communications will need to go out to various stakeholder groups, plan ways to address various risks as they arise, and so on.
The amount of time and effort required for this planning stage varies greatly depending on the size and complexity of the project.
Once the initial plans are mapped out, work can truly begin.
Once the work is finished, the sponsor needs to sign off that the project is, in fact, complete. Any contracts or financial arrangements associated with the contract must also be closed out.
Why Does It Take So Long for Work to Start?
Best practices in project management, as well as past experience, show that spending time in fully understanding the business requirements of a project, and carefully planning how the project will be conducted, leads to a greater likelihood of a successful result. For smaller, less complex projects, those first three stages may be relatively short. But the larger and more complex the project, the more time needs to be spent before beginning execution.
What kinds of things make a project bigger or more complex?
- The amount of change being introduced by the project
- The number of departments both participating in the work and affected by its results
- Third party involvement (vendors, contractors, external stakeholders)
- Regulatory and accreditation requirements