Jennifer Ferfolja, CBAP, PMP
Director, ICT Enterprise Solutions and Projects, Wilfrid Laurier University
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.
In recent years many areas of Wilfrid Laurier University have been focused on improving internal business processes and aligning digital transformation initiatives with Laurier’s strategic goals. Within the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) team, it has been vital to align and prioritize projects by assessing those that impact the institution as a whole and offer the business the greatest value or return on investment (ROI).
The topic of this capstone project focused on leveraging this and developing an institutional IT project intake and prioritization process. The ability to prioritize projects using clear metrics and examine the interrelationship with other areas across the university was advantageous as we continue to strive to complete initiatives that will provide the most value to the university community.
Overall, I sought to answer the following question: How do we standardize IT project intake and prioritization centrally to achieve long-term strategic goals?
Assessing the opportunity
The opportunity that Laurier had with IT project intake and prioritization is that with increasing requests for digital projects, it was imperative to align and update the process and prioritization framework to better support strategic needs while connecting it to the funding process. How do we best direct our budgets and resources to the projects that will deliver the most institutional value?
In completing research and analysis the first step was to understand the current challenges. For the IT project intake process the roadblocks to overcome included the difficulty users experienced in locating the project intake form, resulting in resorting to alternative avenues other than the standard process to submit requests. The outdated form questions and lack of process transparency were also a challenge.
For the IT project prioritization process, the absence of an institutionally approved and applied project prioritization rubric presented a challenge in creating a ranked list of projects using a consistent approach. There was also a need to develop an understanding at the governing body level about the project prioritization process and increase transparency for all involved.
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Leveraging the new project intake form and prioritization process
Over the past few months, we have been fortunate and able to launch recommendations associated with this capstone project. The solution implementation included releasing an updated IT project request form and implementing the institutional IT project prioritization process with an IT project prioritization scorecard.
The new IT project request form centralizes the project intake process. The form is shared annually with the management group at the university to promote the standard process, connecting it to the capital budget process that occurs each year. This has been advantageous in promoting awareness and has helped create an institutionally recognized project list. The new form also aligns with project methodology best practices and increases process visibility.
The development and implementation of an institutional IT project prioritization process and IT project prioritization scorecard have also been extremely beneficial. The ability to apply the scorecard to all submitted projects and leverage a score-based result helps minimize bias and rules evasion, enabling the identification of high-impact/high-value projects. This equally assessed project list is then included in the annual capital budget creation process. The scorecard was reviewed and updated for institutional use with the digital strategy working group to align with the recently developed digital strategy.
This initiative has many opportunities to expand in the future, including not only continuing to review the recently launched processes but also evaluating the alignment opportunities for project prioritization across other departments.
Resources and appreciation
In the development of this capstone, the EAB materials included in the references below were extremely helpful. A special thank you to the EAB experts, Ron Yanosky and Harrison Guthorn, for sharing their knowledge and helpful resources about IT governance and project prioritization. It was also enlightening to work with the fellows in the capstone project group, Heather Veeder and Yenny Anderson, to discuss ideas and receive helpful feedback on the project direction and solution proposals.
IT Governance 2.0: Guidance Systems for a New Era [PowerPoint Slides]. IT Forum, EAB. (2021). Retrieved August 1, 2022
Project prioritization frameworks that work. EAB. (2020, June 10). Retrieved August 1, 2022
Re-prioritize it projects with this scorecard template. EAB. (2021, February 10). Retrieved August 1, 2022
See the fellows’ blogs from the capstone projects
Jennifer Ferfolja and others participated in EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship in fall 2022