Peer Workshop on Project Management

Date: November 17, 2005
Location: University of Portland
- Bryon Fessler, Vice President for Information Services, University of Portland
- Kara McFall, PMP, Manager, Payroll, Timekeeping, and HR Applications, Oregon Health & Science University
Participants: 27
Institutions: 17

This peer workshop enabled participants to discuss key issues of project management in an academic environment. Participants shared their successes, challenges, and stories from the front line in an open, collaborative discourse. Participants shared lessons learned and best practices throughout the workshop. The workshop included detailed discussions about:

- Using project charters: definitions; project phases; project charter as a sales tool, planning tool, analysis tool, communication tool, and authorization tool; charter components; limitations; elements of a good project charter (e.g., written, unbiased, living, available, consistent); and a discussion as to why we do not consistently create project charters in an academic environment.

- Dealing with scope/change management: definitions; scope changes as opportunities; why is controlling scope a challenge; minimizing scope creep; embracing value-add scope changes; communicating (e.g., status reporting, status meetings, requirements document, project newsletters); and other best practices.

- Measuring return on investment: textbook methodology for financial managers; critical metric for understanding value of technology investments; formula; assessing the ROI potential without using the formula (e.g., breadth, repeatability, cost, knowledge, collaboration); gathering data; sample ROIs; costs incurred (capital vs operational); and ROI shortcomings.
During the final half hour of the workshop, participants discussed the establishment of a “community of practice” for project management practitioners within NWACC. Suggestions included the following:

  1. Create a project management website. Provide links to useful project management websites. Solicit and then post templates, charters, ROI formulas, case studies, and other related documents.
  2. Solicit volunteers to serve as project management mentors, obtain their areas of expertise, and then post the information on the project management website.
  3. Schedule a longer (3-day) project management workshop that involves the use of practical tools, resources, different types of project management (construction vs hardware/software), etc. with strong emphasis on the structure of the workshop coming from the attendees.
  4. List consultants that NWACC institutions have used in the past to complete successful projects.

Workshop Survey Results:

Workshop participants were asked to rate aspects of the workshop on a scale from 1-5, with 1 being the worst score and 5 being the best. The average score of each category is listed below (compiled from 9 responses):

  1. Overall satisfaction with the content of the workshop: 4.56
  2. Overall satisfaction with being able to network with peers: 4.44
  3. Overall satisfaction with the logistics (location, facilities, parking, meals, etc): 4.89
  4. Likelihood that I would attend another NWACC workshop if circumstances permitted: 5


  1. Would like to see the idea of a peer mentoring system move forward.
  2. It would be helpful to get a list with names & email addresses of everyone at the function to aid in peer networking. I’m new to this group so maybe it more for myself than for others. Thank you for putting on the workshop it has help me in my job already.
  3. Project management is a pretty broad topic, and since I am relatively new and young, I felt that I benefited highly from the content of this workshop. However, I felt that my benefit, and especially that of the more veteran attendees, could have been significantly increased by one of the three sessions being replaced by something like a break-out session where each of us could get some more specific information pertaining to our specialty. - However, it should be noted that this was my first NWACC workshop, and I apologize if there are other NWACC-sponsored opportunities unknown to me that better meet the need described above. - Thanks again for a great workshop! I look forward to attending more.

The original workshop web page can be found at: