SIGUCCS 2017 Conference Takeaway – Big IT Projects and No Staff

Big IT Projects and No Staff: How to build and activate a campus community

Presented by: Brennan Atchison and Amanda  Johnson, University of Minnesota Duluth

Challenge Accepted TurtleThe University of Minnesota Duluth made the decision to transition the majority of its websites into Drupal, a content management system (CMS). Additionally, during the process the university’s website underwent a complete redesign as well as a content overhaul. Prior to the move to Drupal, there were few technical, design, or brand standards being enforced; each department or unit took its own unique approach to web design, development, and maintenance. Tight budgets meant that there were no staff available to commit full time to the project. The historical approach of letting units manage their websites however they wished also meant a huge cultural shift for members of the campus community. In this paper, we will address how through the formation of user and technical groups, we built trust, harnessed technical expertise, addressed bugs and feature requests, created training opportunities, developed documentation, provided viable channels for feedback, and successfully united a previously fragmented campus community to successfully get the job done.

Read the paper at:

Slides available at:


This presentation was a shining example of effectively using various disciplines—e.g., organizational, motivational, collaborative, and agile—and succeeding despite resource constraints. Many institutions are asked to do more with fewer resources, yet Brennan and Mandie showed us that it is possible to deliver by doing more outreach, listening to our constituents, and developing a project plan which allowed for both customer feedback and regular, iterative changes. This was a good “No Money, No Problems” case study. – Mo Nishiyama