Case Study

Implement Portfolio Management System To Track Strategic Outcomes

Operational planning and program management strategy: BECI


As a research and policy institute of the University of Nebraska, the Buffett Early Childhood Institute promotes the learning and development of children from birth through age 8. Supported by the University’s resources, their work spans applied research, provider and educator training, public policy, and outreach. With a particular focus on children who are at risk due to poverty, developmental delays, or abuse, the Institute champions equitable early childhood services for each child and family in the state of Nebraska.

Buffett Early Childhood Institute


Statewide, Nebraskans experience significant disparities in access to early childhood services. The Institute’s initiatives to promote equitable access are informed by a significant body of applied research. But when they engaged Dr. Duke, they lacked clearly defined project charters and regular reporting on outcomes. The Institute’s executive leadership wanted to create operational and program management systems to help them improve outcomes.


Creating a new operational plan, developing project management artifacts across the whole portfolio, and as well as a rolling out new project management program, was no small feat for such a large organization. Dr. Duke used input from executive leadership and five program directors to:

Organize the Institute's work into well-defined programs

Coordinate with each team to develop each program’s project plans

Design portfolio management procedures to simplify strategic decision-making

Move program management tasks into an online project management system and train users

Finally, Dr. Duke facilitated implementation of the project management system and software. This included designing an implementation strategy, designing customized reports in the software, and developing and implementing role-specific training materials to ensure universal adoption.


For the first time, the Institute’s full scope of work was clearly defined, and each project had a detailed plan and management system. Now, staff simply follow the plan to work toward built-in project milestones. Program directors can more easily plan collaboratively across units. And executives have remote access to real-time statewide progress insights, as well as communication with directors, all in the same software. With such a powerful system in place, the Institute was able to eliminate countless wasted hours, and focus on serving families and children more effectively than ever.

Case Study Testimonials 

Hallie helped us define and roll out a number of project, change, and meeting management processes that created clarity and structure, enabled and fostered collaborative work, provided more transparency, and improved planning efforts across our organization.

Hallie facilitated innumerable discovery, planning, and training sessions with staff allowing for significant engagement and deeper understanding.  She immersed herself in our organization so that she truly understood our needs and goals and was thus able to assist in a way that brought the most value.

Kimberly Harper, Associate Executive Director at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute