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More than 65 people attended the UNC Project and Change Management Community of Practice virtual conference on November 4. This was the first conference for the Community of Practice, which formed last year.

Brenda Carpen, conference creator and founder of the UNC Project and Change Management Community of Practice, said the event, conducted via Zoom, succeeded most notably in attendance and the level of engagement.

Brenda Carpen headshot
Brenda Carpen

“Participants asked really great questions during the morning presentations and were very engaged in the afternoon interactive sessions,” she said. “We had a good mix of sessions.”

J. Michael Barker, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, opened the conference with a keynote speech on the value of project and change management to IT organizations, including ITS.

In addition to the keynote, conference organizers conducted sessions ranging from a panel discussion to shorter, interactive sections on best practices, tools and tips.

Gaining executive support

Candace Reynolds, Operational Excellence Transformation Manager, led the conference’s main event, a panel discussion entitled, “Engaging Leaders: Getting executive support and active sponsorship.”

The panelists were:

  • Kathy Anderson, Associate Dean for IT & Planning, School of Public Health
  • Vicki Bradley, Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources
  • Kelly Brown, Director of Client Services and Support, UNC School of Medicine
  • Allison Legge, Associate Director/Chief of Staff Enrollment, Enrollment Management

Joanne Filley, Continuous Improvement and Organizational Development Manager with Finance and Operations, was excited to apply what she learned during the panel discussion. “I plan to start engaging more proactively with project sponsors and to utilize the sponsor guidelines and agreements presented,” she said.

Accessible and smooth

As for some of the session topics, Rachel Lillis, ITS Change Management Specialist, and Kim Stahl, ITS Senior Policy and Process Lead, presented a use case study for the plain language movement called, “Writing for a non-technical audience. Use Case: Making University policies accessible.”

“I think writing plainly is such an important topic, especially for a university with such a diverse group of people,” Carpen said. “We have to be concise and accurate in describing the University policies; the way we’re doing that is by making our language accessible.”

In another session, Jackie Treschl, ITS Senior Change Management Specialist, presented on the importance of tailoring change management processes to lessen adverse effects, entitled “One size doesn’t fit all: Smoother implementations for all.”

Creating community

Carpen hopes this first conference will spark continued interest in the group and that it will encourage attendees who are not members to join. Membership has already grown to 80 people since the group launched.

“I hope they came away better informed about project and change management practices and tools, engaging with sponsors, how to make documents more readable and how a Community of Practice works successfully when members participate, share and engage with one another,” Carpen said.

Georgia McRae, Operational Excellence Transformation Manager, certainly did. “It was inspiring and informative,” she said. “I felt a new sense of motivation after the conference to try new tools to be more efficient and effective.”

Meanwhile, an attendee who submitted conference feedback anonymously said the group has created a community. “The value of the conference and COP goes beyond this session,” the attendee wrote in the conference survey. “You have created a real community. I thought this was one of the best grassroots efforts I have experienced. Pacing and involvement were exceptional. Congratulations, you have really created something very special and wonderful for the campus community.”

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Community of Practice, request to join via Microsoft Teams.


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