Travis Nation is the Deputy CIO for Enterprise Services in Puget Sound’s Technology Services department, a 35 person team whose primary responsibility is to make sure the university’s IT services keep humming along. In addition to serving as Deputy CIO, Nation is also a certified PMP so he understands how to navigate teams through complex projects with many moving parts. One of the major projects for the university over the past three years was the implementation of Oracle’s PeopleSoft ERP software to consolidate and manage the institution’s financial, HR, and student information systems.
“Running IT for a university like ours, you always have competing priorities. On the one hand, you invariably have to spend a certain amount of time on what we call ‘Keeping the Lights On’ activities, which includes everything from ensuring the availability of applications to patching servers. However, the ultimate goal for any IT leader is to invest in technology solutions that will ultimately transform an organization and make it more efficient,” says Nation. “This ERP project represents one such strategic initiative, as it provides university administrators access to the kind of analytics that will allow us to improve the way we serve our students.”
Over the course of the project, Nation and his team used Microsoft SharePoint to manage project documents, calendars, and task lists. MK Smith, Communications Manager for Technology Services, recalls their project methodology, saying “at that point our approach would best be described as ‘ad hoc’. While it worked for the most part in the heat of what was an accelerated project timeline, it wasn’t sustainable for the long term. As we moved into the refinement phase of the project, we understood pretty quickly we would have to invest time in identifying a better solution.”
Nation and his team evaluated a number of different online project management solutions before selecting LiquidPlanner as their PM system of record. Says Nation, “we had a pretty extensive list of requirements. Most importantly, the tool we chose had to be easy to use, both for our project managers and the rest of our team. But we also required many traditional project management capabilities, such as dependencies and advanced modeling techniques like critical path. And since our limited resources are connected to projects across the university, it was also important that we could have visibility across all the projects in our portfolio and be able to drill down into them.”
Once they decided that LiquidPlanner was the best tool for their organization, Nation and his team had to figure out how to get everyone on board and using it. According to Smith, the LiquidPlanner video tutorials played a key role in their decision. “The help videos are really amazing. None of the other tools we evaluated had anything like them. The videos made it easy for our staff to teach themselves. Some project management tools make you feel like you need to have a PMP after your title, which can be paralyzing for some people. LiquidPlanner eliminates that pain point and makes it easy for anyone to simply start entering their tasks.”