Arizona Schools Keep Innovating with Cloud Computing

OK; there’s some real innovative thinking going on in Arizona – and I’m not talking about immigration reform.

A week or so ago, I posted about Arizona University moving its internal e-mail program to Microsoft’s Business Online Productivity Online Suite. About 18,000 staff members will migrate and benefit from a larger inbox than they currently have, instant messaging and tools to set up online, collaborative meetings.

Now it seems that Northern Arizona University, located in Flagstaff, is making its move to the cloud by adopting standardizing its project portfolio management (PPM) on TeamDynamixHE, a Web-based service that will give the university’s IT team a centralized system to manage project requests, prioritize and score potential projects, and streamline the project startup and staffing process.

Manually, those are very time intensive tasks, although the school was already using automation internally – a combination of Microsoft Project with SharePoint.

Read on; the way the school wants to use this sounds fascinating:

First, the school will use the system to track a paperless project and an e-planning initiative. The second part of the school’s planned usage allows students to select what programs they want to follow. That then produces a list of courses that are available. And based on the students’ selections, Northern Arizona can then determine how many courses, classrooms, and teachers will be needed to meet student demand.

It seems like the school got along okay with its legacy system, but it needed to convert to a centralized format in order to set itself up for growth for the future. Plus, it wanted to be able to track project costs and resource usage to predict the total, true costs of a project – including the management part.

I think this is a really innovative use of cloud technology to help a school get greater control over its costs. And I’m hoping that the decision-makers there are considering regular monitoring of the app to ensure that it’s running smoothly and that staff has access to it when they want it.

Good luck, Northern Arizona U!