Students Staff

25 May 2017

Meet the Strategic Projects Office

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 10:38 am

We spoke to Debbie Brooke, a Project Manager in our Strategic Projects Office, to find out more about her and the work of her team.

How many members of the team are there?

An image of our Strategic Projects Office.

Members of our Strategic Projects Office

We currently have eleven team members in the Strategic Projects Office. Four support the Project Management Framework, Project Managers around the University, training and continuous improvement work.  Two work closely with departments and faculties on projects within their areas. And a further five are working on externally funded projects such as Learner Analytics, The Higher Degree Apprenticeships, and The Catalyst Project.

What is the main purpose of the team?

Simply put, the Strategic Projects Office is here to embed change and continuous improvement, by managing projects and supporting others to deliver projects. Quite a wide remit really when you think of all the projects and change within the University.

How has the team changed in the last year?

Over the last year, the team has increased from two members of staff to eleven. Some of these are replacement posts, as other staff had changed roles. However this increase has allowed us to focus on delivering a huge amount of project support materials, conduct a full review of the Project Management Framework, and deliver lots of Lean Facilitation training and start our Lean mentoring work.

How long have you been a part of the team

I’ve been a member of the team since the Strategic Projects Office was developed in 2013. Having been a project manager in IT Services for a number of years, I was asked to join the newly developed team and help to set things up and support the development of the new Project Management Framework.

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

Although I am sometimes involved in managing large strategic projects, my main role is to support staff at the University who are working on projects or delivering change. This involves developing and running training, supporting staff who need to complete mandates or business cases for projects, brainstorming approaches to projects, managing our Project and Lean Networks, and developing support materials. I’m also responsible for managing our Lean and SUMS programmes at the University which involves lots of facilitating workshops and running continuous improvement reviews, and writing lots of reports on all the work we do.

What other organisations have you worked for?

I’ve actually worked here at the University for 23 years. I’ve worked in Finance, Academic Section, IT Services and Strategic Projects and Change. I’ve had many jobs, including implementing one of the first electronic timetable systems and designing and coding web pages.

How did you get into your current role?

It was a gradual process for me. I worked in the web team in IT Services for a number of years, and I  increasingly got more involved in gathering the requirements for the work the team was taking on and organising the workload of the team and the resources they needed.  I was then asked to be the project manager for the redesign and build of the University website. It was a massive project involving external consultants and staff from all around the University. This then led to my moving over to the new Strategic Projects Office to help set things up there.

How can the Projects Team support other people working at the University?

Our new Project Manager One-stop-shop is such a fantastic new resource for anyone working on a project; it’s almost like a checklist for all the project work you should be doing, with templates and examples to help at each stage.  We can support you with anything from a kick start meeting to discuss a project idea, to running sessions at conferences or away days, and just about everything in between. We even have some fabulous games that we can come and run at team meetings to help introduce the idea of continuous improvement.

How can people get more involved in projects?

The Project Managers Network is a great opportunity to get more involved with projects; the network is open to everyone from experienced Project Managers to those who have never worked on a project before. We’ve just introduced a similar Lean Network  for staff working on delivering change or continuous improvement. If you have a question or need some guidance on a specific project, just get in touch.

What is your one tip for other working at the University?

Make the most of the people who work here. Often we’ll try and muddle through things on our own, but most people are really happy to help out and offer advice or experience. Phoning people up, or arranging a quick meeting to ask how someone might do something, how something worked in the past, or lessons learned from a project or piece of work can make a huge difference, and it also expands the network of people you know. Win, win.

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