This e-Forum was held on January 17-18, 2023. It was co-hosted by
Kirsten Clark, Director, Library Enterprise Systems at University of Minnesota Libraries; Kelly Sattler, Project Manager for the Libraries’ Strategic Projects and Associate Director for MESH; and Dennis Smith, Associate Dean at West Virginia University Libraries.
Over the course of the two days, 22 individuals, including the moderators, introduced themselves and discussed six questions. These questions are outlined below, along with a summary of the responses, totaling 65 posts.
D1Q1 – Introductions: Ask participants to identify themselves with Name, Institution, Position, interest in topic
- 17 people introduced themselves and shared a bit about their work.
- There was also a discussion about dependencies – things that have to happen for a project or a step in the project to be able to complete that isn’t under the control of the project team.
- It was noted that communication is key to managing expectations and addressing issues, especially concerning dependencies.
D1Q2 – Defining a project: Define what a project is and provide some foundational vocabulary to start then ask attendees to give examples in personal or professional work?
- We discussed how a project has an end date but that the deliverable may require maintenance and that needs to be considered.
- How will a project be funded? What might have to end to start a new project?
- We also discussed project management. How it is the process of leading a team to hit goals or complete deliverables.
- Some tools were shared:
- Range.co for team check-ins, good for a hybrid or remote workspace
- Zenhub (works with github) so good for software development and agile projects
- Trello for tracking projects and information
- Need to keep in mind the “Triple Constraint” – cost, scope, and time
- One person questioned the functionality of formal project management and requested to hear from us how well we have found it to work. (No one answered.)
D1Q3 – Developing project proposals and plans: What are some of the best practices for developing project proposals or a project plan? This can include any methodologies that you’ve found successful or methods you’ve learned of but maybe haven’t had a chance to use yet. What methods are effective to get others engaged? What has worked well for you?
- Using a template is helpful for crafting project proposals and plans. Possible content was shared, such as the purpose, the goals, the people involved and their roles, resources needed, timeline, and what will define success.
- To help get buy-in, tying it to the library’s mission/strategic goals or patron experiences can help.
- Keep in mind who the project stakeholders are early in the planning process. Consider who has influence and who is impacted.
D1Q4 – Building the project team: How do you build a project team? Who is on it? Why? Best practices for managing the team?
- Find the people with the necessary knowledge and skills
- Have representation of political stakeholders
- Consider adding a person with great communication skills but who doesn’t have a strong background in the project to ask basic questions and to make sure the project can be shared easily to non-project folks (non-librarians).
D2Q1 – Risk Assessment: Every project has risks associated with it, both those that can be controlled by the project manager and those outside their direct influence. How do you identify potential risks and prioritize them for the project? What are some of your tips for balancing what can and cannot be controlled in a project?
- Communication and clarity are priorities when it comes to risk assessment and mitigation, especially with ensuring stakeholders have accurate understanding of the purpose and scope of a project.
- Having a non-project person review the project plan and description was mentioned again as a good way to ensure clarity.
- Extra planning and time spent identifying risks, and how to manage them, is a huge benefit for the project long term, mitigating the potential for reacting in the moment.
D2Q2 – Running meetings: How do you make a meeting run effectively &/or efficiently? Do you use timeboxing? Do you have set guidelines on when to call a meeting vs using chat vs sending email? Do you get invited to and attend unnecessary meetings? Do you and/or your institution tend to have an invite everyone who might care mentality vs. let’s select the key people only to attend? What’s the benefits/issues with each? Do you assign a note taker at the beginning of a meeting? What is that role’s full responsibilities? To only take notes during the meeting or are they expected to send them out afterwards? If so, to whom? How/where are the notes taken? What do you include in a meeting’s agenda? When do you send it out?
- Several people outlined great ideas on how to run effective and efficient meetings.
- One key theme is taking the time to plan and prepare meetings in advance (1-2 days) so that agendas can be sent out with time to review or setting up rolling agendas that attendees all know to add to and check before the meeting time.
- I appreciated many of the specific details outlined from what should be included in the agendas to how note takes are assigned, many being items that can easily be applied to any project.
D2Q3 – Favorite Project Management Tools: What tools do you use to effectively manage project work? How do you decide what is the right tool to scale for the project you are involved in? For those of you that have been part of project management programs and certifications, what tools and techniques did you find the most helpful in applying to your project management?
- Several tools were outlined today as well as in the previous day’s discussion including Trello, Asana, Range.co, and Microsoft Project.
- Buy-in is a big part of ensuring tools are used consistently by everybody involved in the project.