Illume Implementation Process: Perspectives from an IT Project Manager


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As a Civitas Learning project manager, I get the opportunity to work with colleges and universities all over the country and help them launch new technology. Our process has become incredibly efficient — in fact, 100% of our new Illume deployments so far this year have occurred within 100 days of data access. This means our partners are getting access to technology faster than ever before — and they’re able to find new opportunities and run campaigns at an unparalleled rate. Recently, I worked closely with Rehan Tahir, IT Project Manager at a California university, to roll out Illume to their team. Rehan guided the implementation for the university’s new persistence management solution. We connected with him afterward to reflect on their experience with the implementation process, and here are some of the things he had to say: What was your overall experience as a Project Lead at a Higher Education institution working with Civitas Learning? I work as a project manager at a major public university in the Information Technology Solutions (ITS) group. I was pleasantly surprised with the Civitas project management model, and I found the process to be more formalized and mature than I had initially expected. As with any project management endeavor, there are always opportunities to improve communication on a project, however, the lines of communication were always open between me and my project management counterparts which aided in the successful execution of the project. Did the duration for this project take longer/shorter than you expected? Initially, the project phase was longer than anticipated. However, the project team was able to shift the implementation strategy to deliver the main components of the project sooner in the project lifecycle, which kept the project champion satisfied as to our progress. Did you have adequate resources to complete this? Despite having a full workload, our project team members at the University were able to prioritize this project within their other competing projects, which helped us stay on track and not disrupt the flow of work that Civitas needed to do on the backend. Our core team included the Director of Student Information Systems, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Institutional Research, the Registrar, and the University Innovation Alliance Fellow. All of these team members were ready to participate, spending 3 full days with Civitas when they were onsite with us, and ready to participate on short notice when required. Did you have difficulty gathering your own internal resources? No, this was made pretty clear up front when we asked. What was the hardest part about the implementation process? The hardest part of the implementation process was the time required by the team members for data validation and discussion. It was resource intensive for the individuals that participated, however, the project is a critical component of our student success initiative and everyone was fully engaged to assist on the project. What was your experience working with the Civitas Learning project implementation team (Project Manager, Domain Expert, and Partner Success Consultant)? I found the project managers, partner success consultant, and domain experts on the project to be professional and provide good communication. I found it interesting that we had a project management lead shift during the project, as we transitioned from one phase to the next. Although both project managers were excellent with their communication and execution, there are advantages for maintaining the same contacts throughout the life of the project. Either way, the handoff was efficient and expeditious and did not disrupt the project in any way. For those stakeholders (champion, IR, advising, registrar, IT) involved with the implementation, what do you think they found most rewarding/satisfying about this project? Predictive analytics has been something that we had been looking to implement for some time. Our project stakeholders were excited to see this product rolled out, and I think when the training was provided, and the different workgroups were engaged, our campus stakeholders and partners were happy to see the efforts of the project come to fruition.

Karl Avard, Project Manager, PMP

Karl Avard is a member of the Partner Services team at Civitas Learning, where he manages efficient and timely deployment of all Civitas applications. Before joining Civitas, Karl spent time on Wall St. and working in E-commerce technology. He also enjoys sushi and will never turn down some pistachio ice cream.

Rehan Tahir, IT project manager, PMP

Rehan Tahir is an IT project manager with a California University, and has worked in IT project management for over 10 years.

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