Inside UBC IT: Connecting with the IT Portfolio Management Team

In a recent interview, members of the IT Portfolio Management team, Mike Balzer, Tanja Radeka, and Angela Thompson shed light on the crucial role their team plays in managing IT projects. UBC IT Communications caught up with this team to find out more about their processes and the current projects they are working on. While discussing the Contruction Management project, the Graduate Ecosystem Roadmap project, and the Utilities Management System project—which are all in varying phases of the project lifecycle—the IT Portfolio Management team highlighted how they support efficient governance, the UBC Strategy, and the delivery of impactful solutions across the university. 

What does the IT Portfolio Management Team’s process look like? 

The team's primary responsibility revolves around project intake and initiation, as well as budgets, funding and governance for IT projects across the institution. They work with the UBC community (the project requestors) and IT’s Engagement Services Team to understand and refine requests. Then, they work with the IT Capital Planning Committee on evaluating and prioritizing requests. Once a request has been endorsed, Business Analysts within the team work on developing a Business Case. This work helps to establish the foundation for the project and includes analyzing and understanding the business objectives, processes and requirements; identifying available solution options; engaging with other groups within IT such as Solution Architects, Data Governance, and Sustainment teams; developing detailed cost estimates; and making a final recommendation for the best way to move forward. As projects receive approval to move to Mobilization (the Vendor Selection and Implementation Strategy stage), the team gradually transitions the project to the IT Project Delivery Team or to another implementation team as appropriate.  

In addition to this work on the early project initiation, the team provides ongoing governance-related support to the delivery or implementation teams. The team also produces vital reports to the Board of Governors and to the IT Advisory Committee (ITAC) throughout the project's lifespan. In addition, the team tracks and reports on the IT Small Capital Projects Fund to support the IT Capital Planning Committee which has oversight responsibility for the Fund. 

Current projects 

The team's ongoing projects are currently in varying stages of the project lifecycle. For example, the Construction Project Management project is currently in the Business Case stage of the project lifecycle. This project aims to streamline the administration process around building construction at UBC. This project will modernize the outdated systems currently in use (including Dynamics NAV) and will improve integration with Workday. In addition to enhancing efficiency, the project will improve the specialized reporting required for management and governance of construction projects. 

Another vital project is the Graduate Ecosystem Roadmap Project. As the name suggests, this is a “roadmap” type of project that aims to address gaps in recruitment, student administration workflows, student success, business intelligence, and enrollment processes for Masters, Ph.D., and professional programs here at UBC. The outcome of a roadmap project can be one or more project proposals, along with a 3-to-5-year implementation strategy and timeline.  

As projects transition through stages of the project lifecycle, the team remains pivotal in shepherding the project through additional governance steps and providing portfolio level status reporting. For instance, the Utilities Management System project has progressed from the Business Case stage to the Vendor Selection and Implementation Strategy stage and regularly reports to the IT Portfolio Team. This project entails replacing a legacy system with stronger functionality for billing processes and providing a customer portal for enhanced user experience for both internal and external customers of UBC’s electricity, natural gas, thermal energy, and water services. 

Understanding that these projects can be complex, we wanted to know what the team members enjoy most about their roles at UBC IT. Tanja's favorite aspect of the job is the engagement with many groups across the university and the variety of projects she gets to take part in; Angela enjoys improving the team’s many processes; and Mike values the opportunity to advance UBC’s mission in such a wide variety of ways. 

The IT Portfolio Management team at UBC plays a crucial role in aligning IT projects with organizational goals, ensuring efficient governance, and supporting the delivery of impactful solutions across the university. Their ongoing projects signify a commitment to innovation and excellence in IT management at UBC. 

If you have any other questions or want to know more information about what the team does, please visit the IT Capital Planning Process page on the OCIO website. 

Article written by Aisha Ismail.