Colleges and universities employ a variety of faculty and staff in different departments. It is common for a representative from a major department to work with other department representatives to accomplish a project that benefits the entire university. While this is often beneficial to the whole institution it can be difficult to accomplish since barriers to project management exist in higher education.
Higher education institutions are segmented into different departments. While they are a part of the whole university, these departments function on their own with their own budget, staff and supplies. Projects involving multiple departments can be difficult to accomplish due to the segmentation. Often the questions of who leads the project, who pays for the project and more arise.
The approval process can be a barrier in higher education projects. Departments send representatives to project meetings. These representatives gather information that they report back to their departments. Each department discusses their thoughts and ideas about the project. They then make a decision as a department, and the representative returns to the college-wide meeting to give the opinions and decisions of the departments. It can be several weeks from the time of the initial project meeting until a decision is made by the project committee and the representatives.
Education funding is almost constantly under scrutiny by state and federal legislatures that seek to make budget cuts. In higher education funding is often a barrier to projects. Universities may budget money for a project, but this could be cut if the legislature makes cuts in the middle of the year due to lower tax collection rates than expected. Projects can also be put on hold if the funding source isn’t identified at the beginning of the project and departments must debate over which entity should pay for it.
College campuses are full of politics that can serve as a barrier to project management. Each department on campus has its own relationship with each of the other departments. Just as certain parties unite or oppose each other in actual politics, the same can happen at a university. When trying to accomplish a project in higher education, it is often necessary to understand and navigate the campus politics to overcome this barrier.