Sustainability in the IT Project Lifecycle (joint event with PROMS-G North)

Wednesday 18 August 2010, 18:30 - refreshments available from 17:45

Simon Geller, Senior Project Manager, University of Sheffield


West Yorkshire branch, in association with PROMS-G North present Simon Geller from the University of Sheffield who will be talking about sustainability and it’s place in the IT project lifecycle.

Sheffield University is a Russell Group university established in 1905, with 24,004 students and 5,749 staff. They pride themselves on being at the forefront of IT developments in HE.

The Programme and Project Unit is a small unit within the Department of Corporate Information and Computing Services at the University Of Sheffield, UK. We operate on the matrix model, so staff are pulled out of their Business as Usual activities when the need arises.

As well as the three specialist Project Managers in the team, we have identified suitable candidates throughout the department and trained them to APM-IC level as a minimum. We offer one-to-one support and mentoring for all our PM’s and provide a range of training and guidance materials, as well as regular Project Manager fora.

We now know that the IT industry represents 2% of Carbon Dioxide emissions worldwide, which is roughly the same as air travel - however, there is a case to be made for increasing the emissions from IT as this will replace the emissions from other less sustainable activities, primarily travel.

The University takes it as a central principle that Sustainability should be embedded within everything we do. Sustainability is defined as "...development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs..." and is not to be confused with longevity.

CICS-PPU has come up with a way of embedding the concepts of sustainability into our project documentation, forcing Project Managers and the members of Project Boards to consider the issues involved. This involves changes to our Project Proposal, Project Definition, Project Closure and Post-project review documents, as well as an optional Environmental Impact Assessment.

I will show how these documents work in practice go on to discuss the kind of projects an organization might run to reduce its carbon footprint and how they might be managed, and discuss how a cost-benefit analysis for embedding sustainability might be produced.

About the speaker:

Simon Geller is a Senior Project Manager at the University of Sheffield.

Having graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in Communication Studies. he worked in the Travel Industry for ten years - during a period when manual paper-based processes were rapidly getting replaced with computer systems and was particularly involved in this changeover. However, he also became concerned about the unsustainable nature of the business as the popularity of air travel rapidly expanded.

He subsequently ran his own Computer Services business for several years, and one of his major customers became the University of Sheffield, who were engaged in the process of modularisation which required the creation of a courses database, and a major upgrade of their Student Records system. This led to him being offered a full-time position at the University.

At this time the University had not formalised its approach to Project Management. The institution’s project success rate was quite low, and the need to improve things was recognised. This led to the adoption of the PRINCE2 methodology, and the training of a small group of Project Managers.

We now form the Projects and Programme unit, a small team within the Corporate, Information and Computing Services (CICS) departments, which now includes a range of the University’s administrative and professional services, including core IT systems, User Support and areas as diverse as Transport Services and the University Drama Studio.

Simon has worked to deliver such projects as On-Line Timetables, a Virtual Learning Environment, Shibboleth and Curriculum Management systems He is currently has in his portfolio Electronic Document Records Management, Next Generation Email and Calendaring and an Environmental Printing Review. He is currently working on the development of new portal products for the University, as well as overseeing the implementation of Google Apps.

Simon is married with two grown-up children, and is an enthusiastic cyclist in his spare time.