The Jisc transformations programme funded 58 projects between 2011 and 2013, helping them to effect large-scale organisational change underpinned by ICT.
During the programme’s final meeting a group of critical friends got together with the programme support team and discussed a range of characteristics that were typical of successful projects. It’s worth noting that no one project accomplished everything on the list below but tended to excel in a couple of the areas described.
Characteristics of success
- Projects were based within an institution that had a relative degree of stability
- A set of principles, eg honesty, truthfulness, collegiality, reflection, perseverance, and flexibility, was established at an early stage within the project and used to guide the project team
- Project teams fully understood the institutional context at the start of the project and carried out a baseline of their starting position which could be used to formally evaluate their progress
- Members of the project had a thorough idea of the lines of communication and power within their institution and how to exploit these
- Projects had full buy-in from senior management for the project, and (for the most successful projects) an infrastructure within the institution that was set up to facilitate that sort of project
- Project teams involved stakeholders from the start and throughout
- Staff from whom the project needed contributions were generally aware of the importance of the project’s goals, if not to them, then at least to management or to external bodies to whom they were accountable (or might need money from)
- Projects took a realistic, informed and flexible approach to project timescales and outcomes. They adopted different strategies to communicate and collaborate with stakeholders, different steps to achieve goals, or altered goals in response to the changing environment or when previous strategies had not worked
- Projects were provided with explicit time and attention to change existing processes, with reference to all stakeholders – including the project team
- Projects were often part of a larger programme of work and could benefit from collaborating with other projects involved with the programme resulting in greater benefit to the institution
- Risk management was taken seriously – identification, analysis, assessment, response planning and monitoring and control
- Projects don’t reinvent the wheel – instead they take a look at what others have done and build upon that