Ideas That Stick (July 27, 2010)
The OneCarolina Project is all about sophisticated software systems, high-tech hardware, and complex Enterprise Resource Planning. But planning out strategies and implementation schedules sometimes relies on a lot of plain old brainpower and... sticky notes!
Project leaders are currently wrapping up the Planning phase for OneCarolina, where schedules and resources are carefully allocated to ensure an efficient and effective project implementation. All the pieces of the Project, such as software and hardware configurations, technician and consultant schedules, testing processes, training development, are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It is the task of the Leadership team to put them all together into a proper picture.
"We met in our central conference room to brainstorm a long-term schedule," said Bob Swab, OneCarolina project manager. "We were all working on our laptops and trying to explain to each other how everything was supposed to come together. I don't know who thought of it first, but we just started writing things on sticky notes and posting them on the wall. Suddenly everybody could see the Big Picture."
Swab and the Leadership team began categorizing segments of the Project with different colored notes. They also drew a timeline on the wall to match notes with events, and to mark important milestones that the implementation schedule will require.
"It's a low-tech solution to a complex process," said Brad Holt, Technical team leader. "But it worked beautifully. It really facilitated the group planning process."
When they were done, the team was able to see at a glance a three-year implementation timeline and identify individual components based on their importance to Student Services, Financial Aid, Human Resources, and Finance. Team members were also able to identify missing pieces of the implementation, and quickly add a sticky note place-holder.
The team will document the information and add it to their current Project monitoring system. "We normally use the Project's monitoring software for keeping tabs on Project progress and issues," added Swab. "It's the fastest and most detailed way to maintain oversight on a complex project like OneCarolina. But sometimes it's like the old saying, 'Let's throw it on the wall and see what sticks.' In this brainstorming session, sticky notes definitely helped!"