EDUCAUSE 2011 Day 3 Sessions 1, 2, 3

Evolving the IT Organisation to Meet the Demands of the “New Normal” in Higher Ed: Louise Finn, Tracy McMahon, Tom Podles, Patrick Donohue/Loyola University Maryland

The ‘new normal’:

  • Shrinking budgets/staff: more/better with less, leveraging technology
  • Cloud: is it the end of infrastructure? Is IT Organisation needed?
  • Consumerisation: smartphones etc, works without IT
  • High expectations/instant gratification: integration expected, don’t want training, want stuff to just work (hardly unreasonable)

Profile of University: 5000ish students. Looks like 70+ in IT, 5 Directors & a CIO, reporting to CFO. Was traditional kind of arrangement.

Looked at core values of division of Business & Finance – why would a division have it’s own core values, why would they be any different to the core values of the whole organisation? Lot of work on customer service/communications – speaking the language of the customer.

New organisation structured around how stuff flows in & out of IT. Each VP has a ‘tech coach’ available 24/7 to help them use technology – interesting idea. Structure: Infrastructure; Support; PMO; Enterprise Apps; Office of the CIO.

PMO new – took 2 years to get up & running. Methodology for project submission & prioritisation.

Infrastructure & Enterprise Apps – behind the scenes, endangered species? Pete’s story (coincidence, obviously). Became systems engineer working on integration projects, particularly card system – covers most aspects of IT, works across all units. Difficult for supervisors – who supervises Pete? Interesting problem.

IT: one-stop-shop – just ASK – ask anything, may not be technology, may think it’s technology when it isn’t (!); NEVER the wrong place to turn. Goal: trust & inclusion. Dept structured around this. Comes back to revived mantra: common ownership of problems & solutions. Consultancy/coaching role. Solve the customer’s problem, not your own! Also sounding board – counselling! All good stuff, all not-so-strangely familiar…

Be where your customers are. Maintain an attitude of gratitude – ask to help; capitalise on opportunities. Loyola Technology Answers – crowd-sourced online help (?) Don’t forget about the good stuff: support metrics should not just be based on problems.

Faculty technology adoption. Goal: to help Faculty to interact effectively with technology. Moved from Dept of Instructional Services. Reorganisation brought new resources – one being a Moodle administrator, transitioned from Bb to Moodle. CIO partnership with Deans; staff partnership with faculty – listening/understanding. Top down/bottom up.

Essentially trying to create a culture of collaboration with the customer. Reorganisation helped people understand that things had changed: new roles, new job descriptions, new career paths. Culture of information sharing.

Overall, very good session, interesting stuff particularly around support/customer service.

Which IT Strategy & Why? Betting on Clouds, Collaboration, and Contracts (or Contrarians?): David Gift, Klara Jelinkova, Kevin Morooney, Brad Wheeler

Seeing a lot of shifts. So which to bet on? All say all – balance/context – depends where you’re starting from; workforce skills important factor. Indiana – bet on collaboration. Core & context. Didn’t put in Oracle Peoplesoft – saved $16m by going with Kuali Financials. Team working across departmental boundaries – difficult – running with hair on fire. Job of suppliers: to transfer money from institutions to their shareholders.

IT From Both Sides of the Executive Table: Michael McRobbie, President, Indiana University

Final session of the conference – so first, thank you time again! Stand up & be recognised! Actually, doesn’t seem to be as much of it as usual.

Note: have a look at Indiana’s IT strategy, meant to be exemplary.

  1. The mission of HEIs. Creation, dissemination & preservation of knowledge. Yep, sounds about right. Universities – one of the oldest forms of human institution. Why is this relevant? Universities have always preserved data, best bet for digital preservation in the future – have demonstrated longevity.
  2. Funding. Pressures are the new normal – pressure to be more productive. Move from agrarian model ref Obama to whole year round. IT affecting most areas: but so far not really HE & Healthcare – but will. Interesting that electronic health care record has made no impact in USA as well. Again, tens of millions of $ saved through adoption of Open Source. Sakai, Kuali etc.
  3. Centralisation. Centralised IT = right way to go. Happening in business – why is HE different? Plus immense savings to be made.
  4. Risks. Cyber security. One office responsible for all security, risk management etc.
  5. Role of the CIO. Diminishing? Role more important than ever.
  6. People. Partnership not servitude.

The end.


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