Tag: project management

PRINCE2 for schools (or, why don’t schools have project managers?)

I spent last week studying for and taking my Foundation and Practitioner PRINCE2 examinations. Programme and project management is an expected part of the world I now work; in fact, funding and facilitating projects too risky for institutions to take on individually is pretty much what JISC does.

PRINCE2 logo

PRINCE 2 is a project management method standing for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It’s generic and applicable to everything from painting and decorating your house through to the machinations of multinational corporations. Granted, at first the rather abstract concepts seem needlessly convoluted (‘dis-benefits’ anyone?) but the commonality of language and ability to tailor a workable organizational structure make sense in the end.

What I can’t understand is why most schools shun formal project management methods? More than any almost any other type of organization, schools have to deal with constant change: personnel, curricula, buildings – so many different elements! Whilst it would be overkill (and the cost prohibitive) to have everyone within an organization PRINCE2-ceritified, I would definitely recommend the following:

Senior & Middle Leadership – full PRINCE2 Practitioner status

Teachers, Learning Support Assistants and Site staff – PRINCE2 Foundation status

If tied to professional development activities, the 7 PRINCE2 principles could really make a difference to organizational efficiency:

  1. Continued business justification
  2. Learn from experience
  3. Defined roles and responsibilities
  4. Manage by stages
  5. Manage by exception
  6. Focus on products
  7. Tailor to suit the project environment

The three I’ve highlighted would in particular benefit schools and make them much less frustrating (and much more productive) places to work. To explain those three:

  • Continued business justification – at the end of each stage the Executive (usually be the Headteacher) decides if the ‘business case’ is strong enough to continue the project.
  • Defined roles and responsibilities – project roles are based upon the ability of the person’s role within the school to allocate resources and carry out the task (and not on personalities).
  • Manage by exception – once each stage plan is agreed with specified tolerances, the project manager gets on with it, only raising exceptions to the Project Board if the tolerances (time, cost, scope) are exceeded.

I’ll explain more about PRINCE2 if there’s enough interest. I may not be qualified to give the training, but I am qualified to write explanatory blog posts. 😉

How to use Netvibes as a project management hub.

This guide is most easily done through screenshots. Apologies for the blurring out of information, but it’s necessary I’m afraid…

I’ve got lots of different projects on the go at the moment in my new role. I had to find a way to keep track of them fairly sharpish if I wasn’t going to fall behind. Thankfully, I’ve found a system that works really well for me. Here’s how to set up a system similar… 🙂

The first thing is to head over to Netvibes and sign up for a free account (if you haven’t done so already). When you’ve done that, start customising your ‘Home’ (dashboard) page:

I’ve used an iFrame to bring in the excellent TeuxDeux webapp here as well as a bookmark, webnote and holiday widgets. More on that later. Go ahead and set up your project tabs by clicking on the little ‘+’ icon to the right of Home. Add a little icon to make them stand out from one another:

For the project pages, I’ve chosen the following standard layout. It means I can see pretty much at-a-glance what needs doing (the to-do list) as well as notes to myself. The iFrames can go down at the bottom for things that I need to access often:

I use the following widgets in my project pages:

Adding these widgets in the relevant places and configuring them ends up with something similar to the screenshot below. Now rinse and repeat for the rest of your projects in other tabs and you’re sorted! 😀

How do YOU keep track of your projects? Do you use Netvibes differently? Explain in the comment section below!

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