Approval and Prioritization

The stewardship process at Simon Fraser University will operate at a strategic and an operational level, with underlying support from the project management process. A key element of stewardship is establishing prioritization criteria and then applying the criteria to select and rank all information systems investments at the university.

Stewardship requires information systems decisions to have strategic fit, functional utility, and balanced investment.  Strategic fit means all initiatives are aligned with the strategic mission of the university. Functional utility means the qualitative and quantitative benefits outweigh the costs and risks. Balanced investment means information systems development occurs in a rational approach across all areas of the university.

The steps involved in any project include developing a project charter (business case), writing a detailed project plan, implementing the plan and reporting on progress, making changes to the plan, and closing the project. The diagram below illustrates the model.

The project management process informs the stewardship model on project investments. The first step in any project is the development of a project charter to justify the investment of university resources in the project. The charter needs to be written for any project requiring either a minimum of 20 person days of IT work or $20,000 from IT budgets. The charter is sent to the IT Services leadership team for review.  They determine if the project can proceed as defined and which stewardship committee should decide if the investment is worthwhile. The appropriate stewardship committee then reviews the charter. The stewardship committee determines if the project should proceed and what is its priority relative to the overall portfolio of information systems projects.

Projects estimated to require less than 40 person days can proceed without a project plan. All other projects require a detailed project plan. This plan becomes the contract between the project manager and the sponsor of the project. It includes a detailed commitment to schedule, budget, scope, quality, resources, procurement process, and risk management. The plan is reviewed by the CIO leadership team and must be approved by the appropriate stewardship committee before any further work is undertaken by the project.

As the project progresses, status reporting to the IT Services leadership team and the appropriate stewardship committee is expected on a monthly basis. Any changes to the scope that affect schedule, budget, or scope require formal approval by the stewardship committee.

At the conclusion of any project a project closure report must be submitted to the stewardship committee. This report is designed to document lessons learned and establish appropriate benefits realization criteria for the assets produced by the project.