Students Staff

The Project Managers' Network

The Project Managers' Network (PMN) is an informal group of staff from across the University, who are interested in or responsible for change and project management. The group meet regularly to share experience, best practice and support each other.

The PMN can also be used to brainstorm problems and solutions to issues you are having with your project.

If you are interested in joining the group, or if you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to discuss or hear about at future meetings please contact the Strategic Projects Office.

Project Managers' Network meetings

  • 12 June 2018 - Summary of meeting

    Summary of the Project Managers Network Meeting - 12 June 2018

    Training Pathways

    We discussed the development of training pathways, cross referencing additional professional development training avaialble elsewhere, and complementary training to help develop personal skills.

    We also outlined potential 1 hour bitesized training that participants might find useful.

    Paperless Committees

    We had a presentation from Karen Bowlby regarding the Paperless Committee project, which outlined the themes of the project, and showcased the Committee Portal where the details of all committee information and relevant support documents are held, and the new systems that will be used, such as Box, and how these work with various devices.

    If you have any particular issues you would like to have discussed, or would like to deliver a case study or get support for a particular project, please contact the Change Team on

  • 30 January 2018 - Summary of meeting

    Summary of the Project Managers Network Meeting - 30 January 2018

    Launch of the enhanced Project Management Framework documents

    Leila and Lucy from the Strategic Projects Office talked about the enhancements that have been made to the Project Management Framework documentation, including simplified documents for the Mandate, Business Case and the Progress Reporting Form.

    Project monitoring and tools that can help

    We looked at the roles and responsibilities during project monitoring, and identified some methods that can help, including various systems, and the Project Health Check form.

    Introduction to Smartsheet

    We will had a quick tour of Smartsheet and talked about some of the ways it is being used around the University.

  • Joint PM and CI Network event - Summary of Meeting

    Summary of the joint Project Managers and CI Network Meeting - 9 November 2017

    Introduction to new SPO staff

    We welcomed Lucy and Leila to the Network. Lucy is a Project Manager and will work closely with staff in departments and professional service areas on specific strategic projects.

    Leila is a Project Governance Office and her role is split between the Strategic Projects off and the Governance Office, both in Strategic Planning and Change. Leila provides support to Project Managers, helps to manage the Project Management Framework, and provides secretarial support to project related committees.


    We held a network event where participants could meet with staff working on similar areas of work and discuss any issues or queries they had with staff from SPO and the wider network.

    Continuous Improvement Tools

    We looked at CI tools that can help support staff working on projects and wider teams, including Visual Display Boards, RACI, Skills Matrix, BOSCARD, Root cause analysis, evaluating work, Brainstorming, Spagetti Map and SIPOC. All of which are available on our CI Tools webpage.

    Skills Analysis Survey

    Some of you may have completed the skills analysis survey last year, if so you will be able to review your results here. For those of you who haven't heard about it before, the skills analysis is an opportunity for you to measure your project management skills and identify areas where you may need additional support. We then use the findings to develop tailored training and network sessions to try to bridge those gaps. In this session we will review last year’s results and discuss your training needs for the upcoming year.

  • 27 July 2017 - Summary of meeting

    Summary of the Project Managers Network Meeting - 27 July 2017

    This fun interactive session, facilitated by Katie McIntosh, was a fabulous example of how working together as a project team to identify and rate risks, gets much greater results than any one team member could hope to achieve. The session included:

    • An overview of what a risk means to a project and the difference between a project risk and an issue
    • How to identify risks. Through the interactive session each group had to work both individually and as a team to identify risks, it soon became very clear that, as a result of difference experience and knowledge, each person had a different perception of risk and mitigation, which reinforced the understanding that risk management should not be done in isolation
    • How to use a risk matrix to rank risks on likelihood and impact. By rating the risk the teams were able to identify what risks would have to be mitigated into order for the project to proceed and which could be tolerated, or transferred, in the project plan
    • How to write an effective risk statement using the principles of cause, event and consequence
    • Risk Jenga, the teams put their risk ranking to the test to see if their project could stay upright!
    • The teams then thought about how mitigation would affect the ranking of their risks and the effect this would have on the viability of their project

    The presentation has been added to the website. If you have any questions on this, or would like more information on risk, please see the risks and issues management toolkit or contact us at .

  • 16 May 2017 - summary of meeting

    Summary of the Project Managers Network Meeting - 16 May 2017

    Project committees workshop

    In this session we had a brief introduction in to the structure of the project committees, including how they feed in to each other, then moved in to a practical session where we looked at practical aspects of dealing with the committees. Areas included:

    • The purpose of project committees
    • Experiences of staff who have attended the committees
    • Feedback to improve the committees
    • Support that SPO could offer when dealing with any of the project committees

    The output from the practical session was gathered and will be available here shortly.

    Learner Analytics Project

    Linda Hanna, the Project Manager for Learner Analytics, came along and told us all about the new Learner Analytics Project. The project is all about using data we have to help assess engagement and progress of students, to support them in their learning and development, and to help identify any issues students may have as early as possible.

    The new project team are based in Strategic Projects Office and are currently working on consultation with staff and students, and system development. If you have any queries about the project, or would like to know more, you can contact the project team on

    Systems and Academic Projects Board (SAPB)

    The Chair of SAPB, Marc Albano, came along to talk about Systems and Academic Projects Board (SAPB). He told us about the remit and membership of the committee, the work they do on mandates and business cases prior to submission to the Project Coordination Group (PCG), how they can identify problems with projects, and what support can be put in place to help get them back on track.

    Marc was clear that they are there to help our project managers, however he was just as clear about what our project managers can do to help themselves and get their projects through to approval stage. On his 'must do' list are:

    • Always make sure you secure appropriate resources for the project - at the times when they will be needed (be realistic)
    • Make sure your time scales are reaslistic -  speak to people and get estimates if you're not sure
    • Consult with all the necessary people - eg SPO, Business Analysts, Finance, IT Services, Procurement, key stakeholders
    • Complete the finance section of the formal templates - Finance are there to help with this and are happy to offer support
    • Capture the benefits of the project - make sure your benefits are measureable, how will you know that you've been successful, how can you prove it

    Marc also talked about reporting progress on your project, and highlighted that time, cost and quality are the key elements, along with honest reporting.

    If you have any queries about attending any of the project committees, completing the formal templates, or any other areas of project work, get in touch with the team at

  • 14 March 2017 - summary of meeting

    Summary of the Project Managers Network Meeting - 14 March 2017

    Project Lifecycle costs and Risk Management

    Richard Fern and Dan Shedd from finance came along to the session and delivered an overview of Project lifecycle costs and Risk Management for Project Managers, explaining the context in which they work, and how they are applied at the University at a project level.

    We then ran a project clinic session which allowed participants to further explore the issues and solutions, for both Lifecycle costs and Risk Management, that they have encountered within their own projects. The outputs from the clinic will be made available to the Project Managers Network shortly.

    For more information on Risk Management and Project Lifecycles please see the Project Managers One Stop Shop.

    Project Objectives

    Debbie Brooke and Lisa Collins talked the group through the principles of setting project objectives, including why they are needed, how to write them, and how to ensure you can successfully measure them, once the project has been delivered.

    The group then had the opportunity to put this into practice with an interactive session, designed to get participants thinking about SMART objectives using our project examples.

    For more information please see our Project Objectives Toolkit held within the Project Managers One Stop Shop.

  • 9 February 2017 - summary of meeting

    Launch of the Project Management Framework

    The new PMF was launched, together with over 60 supporting guides, toolkits and templates.

    Introduction by Bryn Morris

    • Bryn Morris, our Registrar and Secretary, introduced the simplified Project Management Framework (PMF) and how it fits in with the Universities Strategic Plan. Bryn’s introduction discussed how staff can use the PMF to develop a culture of change throughout the University, using the templates and support materials to maximise project efficiencies.

    What has changed?

    • Debbie Brooke and Lisa Collins guided the group through what has changed in more detail; talking through the governance approval process, project templates and the one-stop-shop document, as well as highlighting what is coming next. This session showcased the wide range of support materials available, covering all aspects of managing a project as well as those specific to the Project Management Framework.

    The presentation and Listen Again recording of the PMN session are both available online.

  • 16 November 2016 - summary of meeting

    Summary of the Project Managers Network Meeting - 16 November 2016

    An update on the Project Management Framework

    The enhanced Project Management Framework has been well received by SAPB and will progress to the December PCG. Training, including toolkits and kick off meetings, are in the works but we would love to hear from you how this can most usefully be rolled out.

    Linda Hanna and Vicky Poole Project Manager update

    Linda and Vicky talked the group through their move to the Strategic Projects Office from the faculties and discussed upcoming work and future project plans! For any further information or support please email or

    Project Dependencies

    Catherine Jaques ran a great troubleshooting session on project dependencies, in which she detailed some of the issues she has been experiencing and the group feedback solutions and tales of good (and bad!) practice. If you have any issues around projects that you are struggling with and think would make a good session please do not hesitate to get in touch. More general information on project dependencies will be uploaded onto the sharepoint.

    Health and Safety in Project Management

    Claire Saunders gave the group a very interesting presentation on health and safety within projects, highlighting some of the lessons learnt from past projects and what Project Managers should be looking out for. More details of this have been included in the presentation and saved on the Project Managers Network Sharepoint and will form part of the toolkit training guidance that we will be providing.

    Presentations are loaded on to the Project Sharepoint site following each meeting.

    Tools and supporting materials are also uploaded to the Project Management Tools Sharepoint site.   

  • 14 September 2016 - summary of meeting

    Skills Analysis Survey

    The results of the Skills Analysis survey were shared with the group, along with the plans to develop individual reports for all those who completed the survey. This will allow them to identify areas of work for further development and support.

    Procurement, Finance and Stakeholder Analysis

    The findings from a previous session on Procurement, FInance and Stakeholder Analysis were shared with the group, along with additional research and responses from the relevant areas.

    Updates to the Project Management Framework

    An update on progress to the Project Management Framework (PMF) was presented, along with drafts of the new reporting forms. The new Roles and Responsibilities document was also showcased. This document outlines all of the work required at each stage of a project, together with any PMF requirements.

    Projects outside of the PMF

    We discussed projects that are managed and monitored outside of the PMF, and how the Strategic Projects Office and the suppoprt materials we have produced can help to support these.

    Feedback and sharing lessons learned

    We discussed the best ways of gathering feedback, lessons learned and good practice, and how these might best be shared and, where appropriate, implemented within other areas of the University.


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We run a regular training programme covering topics such as Project Management, Lean, Benefits Management, Change Management and Process Mapping. All courses are advertised through HR organiser.

Project one stop shop

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The one stop shop (.pdf, Essex users only) is a guide for Project Managers. It outlines the work required at the different stages of a project, together with toolkits, templates and guides for each piece of work.


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Lean is a methodology used to make improvements to processes and day to day work. Using Lean can help you to identify the work you do that adds value, and remove any wasteful activities.


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SUMS provide expert consultancy in all areas of University support and management. They can provide support on area reviews, legal compliancy and comparative analysis from other institutions.