Project Management Office

Service Owner: Tara Frost

DoIT’s Project Management Office leads successful university wide initiatives by strategically connecting people and information. Our experienced project managers collaborate across the university, delivering effective project management and communications resources to meet diverse challenges. Project managers help initiate business cases and charters in order to plan, execute and successfully close projects.

The primary objectives of PMO are: 

  • Deliver successful projects 
  • Build Project Management maturity and culture across NIU
  • Serve as the University’s SME on Project Management methods and practices 
  • Mentor and guide different teams as they learn and adopt project management best practices 
  • Fully implement a project and portfolio management system that supports strategic planning, project integration, effective resource allocation, and executive reporting 

Project Descriptions:

The current manual processes required for tracking of most federal grant money are time-consuming, prone to error and do not provide Principal Investigators or staff with real-time budget information and control. This increases the risk of accounting errors and cost overruns, both of which can attract the ire of auditors and federal granting agencies. To address these issues, the university plans to adopt new post-award grant monitoring software to better integrate with that used for pre-award processing.

The current inventory management system involves multiple databases of information and often relies upon manual inputting of data, both of which create opportunities for errors. The primary opportunity for process improvement would be to eliminate NIU’s home-grown data interface and manage the inventory process directly from PeopleSoft. Such a solution would allow responsible officers at the sector level to access their data directly from PeopleSoft, allow them to upload data directly and provide them with year-round visibility into records of their assigned assets. Such a change may also allow the university to rely upon barcode scanning to largely replace error-prone manual verification of tag numbers.

There are ongoing discussions with PeopleAdmin about updates to their system. A System Review underway seeks to compare three configurations: NIU’s current implementation of PeopleAdmin’s system; the full capacity that NIU could enjoy if all of the aspects of the PeopleAdmin system that NIU has paid for were implemented; and the capacity that NIU would wish to have. NIU’s Affirmative Action and Human Resource Services teams have identified a list of upgrades that they believe can simplify some important functions:

  • Incorporating Affirmative Action into Applicant Tracking

  • Improving Information Flow by eliminating manual data transfer

  • Tactical Changes to make the system more user-friendly including creating a separate workflow for instructor hiring; or creating finalist notification form.

Once the Solutions Review is completed and the range of feasible solutions has been identified, NIU will work with PeopleAdmin, and with our PeopleSoft system, to implement the upgrades.

While most registrar/student transactions are already automated, there are several that students execute, related to their academic program, that are still managed through paper forms. As NIU looks to a near-term future with a significant amount of remote teaching; and to a long-term future with a growing percentage of our students online, there are clear needs for all large-scale student transactions to move to a digital/automated format. Curricular deans and advising directors identified 17 forms they would like to see converted to a digitized or automated format, primarily through the use of existing capabilities in PeopleSoft. In concert with the technology changes, the academic community is also reviewing and simplifying the approval chains that go with the forms.

As part of the student financial aid process, students, applicants and their families are called on to submit a variety of documents that contain sensitive, personally identifiable information. This information requires a high level of security for its transmission and storage. At that same time, there is a very high volume of material involved. Moving the submission of student financial aid forms to an automated secure process would increase security, greatly enhance efficiency in the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office and promote recruitment and enrollment by making the financial aid application process more accessible to students and their families. Finding a secure, automated process to handle this information could reduce the amount of staff effort devoted to document processing as much as 85%.

The COVID crisis forced NIU to abandon its paper-based system for reporting time worked and benefits claimed. The current solution is paperless, but still essentially manual and has several shortcomings. The permanent solution is envisioned to be based on the implementation of the PeopleSoft Time & Labor module. However, this is seen as a very heavy lift, with both redesign of the time and benefit processing and significant technical work in HRS and DoIT to implement the new module. An interim solution that would automate time and benefit reporting is being designed.

This project will identify several tools that can be used across campus to support transforming a manual/paper form/process into an electronic process. Different business units will need different solutions based on the data they oversee, and so this project will deliver a suite of recommended solutions which will be published along with web resources that provide a “how-to” on a given tool. It will not prescribe a required solution for any one document.

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