Appendix 4: IT Projects

  1. UNLV IT Project Review Process

Appendix 4A – UNLV IT Project Review Process

Process Owner

Chief Information Officer or designee

Purpose

An effective IT project review process at UNLV should:

  • Maximize IT investments by selecting and prioritizing the optimal combination of projects to meet the University’s strategic goals.
  • Ensure that the degree of review, approval, and monitoring is consistent with the size and scope of the project.
  • Provide a high-level view of the status of all campus IT projects (e.g., requested, pending, approved, completed) to inform university planning, collaboration, and decision-making.
  • Balance the needs for new services, service enhancements, innovation, security, and a robust infrastructure.
  • Build interoperability, security, data management, and usability into the IT project review process.
  • Coordinate the IT project review process with the IT purchasing approval process.
  • Make optimal use of outsourcing, economies of scale, and existing resources.
  • Address both campus-wide and unit-specific IT project and IT purchasing needs.
  • Utilize transparent and easy-to-follow processes for requesting approval and tracking projects.
  • Be expeditious and not impede effective service delivery.

Combining the project and purchasing review processes will increase the value of IT purchases by creating a dialogue with a wider group of IT professionals who may help address features that might not have been considered by a single individual or unit. The processes will also identify possibilities for integrations with existing systems that could significantly enhance the functionality of the purchase.

The Need for Project Intake and Tracking

The current environment

UNLV staff resources are rarely dedicated to a single project and typically share both project and operational responsibilities. This structure, typically characterized as a “weak matrix” organization, allows flexibility in deploying resources but presents significant challenges in coordinating those resources for efficient and predictable project delivery. These dual responsibilities also affect the university’s ability to deliver sufficient operational support and enhancements for current and new applications.

Project intake

It is recommended that UNLV create a single project intake process to track all IT projects. A single process provides the clearest picture and most effective management of IT resources, while ensuring the university’s IT investment is aligned with strategic priorities.

The presentation of a business case is recommended for all projects regardless of size. After intake, projects can be routed for review. Additional details may be required based on the size and scope of the request. The information necessary to effectively fulfill and manage a project request should match the size, cost, and complexity of the project.

A tool for tracking

A project portfolio management (PPM) tool is essential to provide a transparent IT project request process and expeditiously manage the flow of information needed for decision-making. Project portfolio management tools provide the structure to manage project delivery and estimate resource availability.

The benefits

By using a single intake process for all projects, UNLV can better manage IT resources and ensure that the IT investment is aligned with strategic priorities.

The IT Project Approval Process

Four project approval paths with a level of review, approval, and monitoring consistent with the size and scope of the project are recommended. The four project approval streams would be managed using four distinct portfolios.

  1. Major IT Initiative Portfolio
  2. Foundational IT Portfolio - Security and Infrastructure Programs
  3. Mid-Size IT Project Portfolio
  4. Enterprise IT System Enhancement Portfolio

More detailed information on each of the project approval streams is provided in the table below. The group governing project approval will determine the information and documentation required to review and manage projects in their portfolio stream.

Table 4A-1: Characteristics of the UNLV IT Project Portfolios
1. Major IT initiatives Portfolio
Criteria for Project Inclusion in Portfolio
  • Cost over $100,000 or use over 1,000 staff hours
  • NSHE system-wide projects (e.g., the iNtegrate 2 project detailed in Initiative #9)
Exceptions
  • Grant-funded research projects are not included in the IT Portfolio unless they require significant enterprise IT resources
  • IT infrastructure projects are prioritized in a separate portfolio
  • IT security projects are prioritized by subject matter experts in a separate portfolio
Prioritization Criteria
  • Value of investment in achieving the university strategic goals
  • Resource requirements
Project Approval
  • Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) with technical input from the Technology Review Board (TRB)
2. Foundational Portfolio - Security and Infrastructure Programs
  Security Program Infrastructure Program
Criteria for Project Inclusion in Portfolio
  • Primary objective of the project is to mitigate an identified risk to university systems or data
  • Designed to proactively improve University security
  • Addresses a security audit or compliance recommendation
  • Improves the usability or functionality of university security systems
  • Addresses audit or compliance requirements
  • Primary objective of the project is to enhance university infrastructure to better support IT services
  • Replacement of end-of-life infrastructure services
Exceptions
  • Grant-funded research projects
  • Grant-funded research projects
Prioritization Criteria
  • Mitigates an identified risk to university systems or data
  • Addresses audit or compliance
  • Improves usability or cost-effectiveness or existing security systems
  • New system requirements
  • Improves usability, security, or adds features required to deliver existing or support planned IT services
Project Approval
  • UNLV Cyber Security Team prioritizes initiative that are approved by the Technology Review Board (TRB)
  • Technology Review Board (TRB) prioritizes and approves initiatives, with oversight by the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC). TRB bi-annually reports to the TAC on the priorities, impact, cost, and scheduling of planned infrastructure projects
3. Mid-Size IT Project Portfolio
Criteria for Project Inclusion in Portfolio
  • Cost between $25,000 and $100,000
  • Requires between 300 and 1,000 UNLV staff hours
Exceptions
  • Grant-funded research projects
  • IT infrastructure and Security Projects
  • Enhancements to a single existing enterprise system with its own governance group and requiring less than 300 hours to complete
Prioritization Criteria
  • Value of Investment in achieving the university strategic goals
  • Availability of resources
Project Approval
  • Technology Review Board (TRB) with oversight by the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC)
4. UNLV IT System Enhancements Portfolio
Criteria for Project Inclusion in Portfolio
  • Minor modification to one of the University’s large enterprise systems (e.g., MyUNLV, iNtegrate 2, WebCampus) that have dedicated staff resources and an established governance process to support system enhancements
  • Minimal impact to other systems or services
  • Requires less than 300 hours of staff time to implement enhancement
Exceptions
  • Modification creates a redundant service. TRB will review changes that add a service already provided by another system in the IT Service Catalog
  • Modification significantly changes the way in which data are being stored or secured
  • Requires the procurement of a product(s) totaling over $25,000
Prioritization Criteria
  • Compliance with government or security regulations
  • Restores functionality lost in service changes
  • Provides functionality to support RPC or Tier One initiatives
  • Improves usability, security, or adds features required to improve existing or support planned IT services
Project Approval
  • IT governance team for the service

Including NSHE IT Projects in the UNLV Major IT Initiatives Portfolio

NSHE system-wide projects (e.g., the iNtegrate 2 project detailed in Initiative #9, major wide-area network upgrades) are approved and managed in coordination with other NSHE institutions. These large system-wide initiatives often come with dedicated resources but typically require significant campus-based resources beyond those dedicated to the project.

While approval and management of these projects is outside the scope of the UNLV IT project review process, it is recommended that the campus projects in support of NSHE enterprise projects be included in the IT Major Initiatives Portfolio. Creating a link between NSHE projects and the UNLV IT project portfolios allows the university to properly account for the resource requirements and impact of implementing NSHE initiatives.