In the summer of 2011, UM President Royce Engstom directed interim Chief Information Officer Loey Knapp to develop an information technology strategic plan that envisioned more efficient and effective operation of central and distributed IT services.
This report details the planning approach and participants, provides current situation analyses, outlines major issues to address and provides a set of strategic goals and recommendations for moving forward.
The planning process sought answers to four questions:
- What is the role of information technology in supporting the mission of the University?
- What organizational structure provides the most effective delivery of IT services while making the most efficient use of limited resources?
- How should IT be governed?
- How must the campus culture change to meet rapidly growing expectations for robust, reliable, innovative and secure technology infrastructure and services with limited financial resources?
Role of IT
Central IT has traditionally supported the campus network, central data centers, identity management, and enterprise applications while providing limited help desk support. In the past decade, the central IT organization has evolved to provide web support services and more advanced presentation technologies. Central IT has taken a lead role in state, regional and national networking issues in recent years, and has developed some innovative web applications, but generally, Central IT has been reactive to campus needs. The CIO, until recently, was not part of the cabinet and had little or no influence on strategic decisions.
In reaction to an understaffed and limited central IT organization, colleges, schools and departments invested resources in IT support staff. Today, there are approximately 70 staff employees in Central IT and another 70 employees with technology support responsibilities distributed across campus.
It makes sense to explore ways that central and distributed IT operations can be partners in supporting the University’s mission, as well as a valued participant in strategic decision-making.
Structure of IT
The CIO—who directs the Central IT organization—currently reports to the President. The academic sector, which employs half of the distributed technology staff, has no IT manager. IT staff in academics typically report to deans and chairs. Student Affairs and Administration and Finance sectors have small technology teams, but also have IT staff working in individual departments. The results are duplicated efforts and staff working at cross-purposes or creating vulnerabilities because of lack of depth.
This is the time to consider whether UM would benefit from a different organizational structure that could be more agile, innovative, proactive, secure and cost-efficient.
A distributed IT model requires effective policies and collaborative decision-making processes to ensure integration of systems, responsible spending and adherence to security requirements. UM’s formal IT governance structures are obsolete or dysfunctional. A significant outcome of this planning process should be the redesign of an effective IT governance structure, policies and processes.
This plan will recommend specific technology initiatives to support the University’s mission, but long-term success will require leadership that can forge a shared vision and create an IT culture that is built on trust and shared values.