IT conducted three sessions in September and October 2011 to explore strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to campus information technology services, central and distributed. Rick Curtis from the Curry Health Center moderated a student session. Bill Muse from the Office of Budget and Planning led two SWOT sessions with faculty staff and administrators. A full list of participants and notes are included in the appendix.
In addition to the three campus sessions, a member of the strategic planning group met individually with deans, directors and IT personnel from 23 colleges, schools and departments representing all sectors of campus. The meetings were meant to inform key decision-makers about the strategic planning process and encourage them to conduct a SWOT analysis with their own stakeholders as part of the process. IT received formal feedback from the College of Arts & Sciences and the UM Foundation. Central IT managers also engaged in a SWOT process. The notes from all of those sessions are included in the appendix.
- Employees gave high marks to IT support staff across campus for their expertise, dedication, flexibility and the quality of service they provided.
- The reliability of the campus network and enterprise systems was seen as a strength.
- Students praised the availability of computers and said it was easy to find help.
- Students specifically highlighted library services and some online services like Academic Planner, OneStop and Moodle as strengths.
- The UM Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences noted improvements in communication and relationships between central IT and distributed IT staff.
The discussion of IT weaknesses among employees focused primarily on four areas: 1) funding and staffing levels, 2) policies and processes, 3) IT support and 4) strategic planning.
- Participants agreed that a lack of depth in technical staff was cause for concern. There was also acknowledgement that lack of funding for IT was a concern, but perhaps more concerning was a central IT funding model based on largely on telephone and network port charges. Funding levels and stability also create recruitment and retention issues for technical staff.
- Both groups spent considerable time discussing weaknesses related to coordination of central and distributed IT services. The groups pointed to lack of Service Level Agreements (SLAs), lack of standard operating procedures, lack of governance and poor communication as significant weaknesses.
- Lack of effective governance and coordination is tied to IT service delivery and support weaknesses. The groups identified inconsistency, bureaucracy and inefficient business processes as weaknesses.
- A fourth area of concern was IT strategic planning. Employees expressed concerns about lack of structure and transparency in planning and decision-making,
- Students expressed frustration with inconsistencies in the quality of campus websites, and inconsistencies in technology in computer labs and classrooms. They said that many campus web systems are not user-friendly and are not integrated with each other. And they listed a lack of wireless network coverage in some areas as a significant weakness.
Opportunities and Threats
While internal strengths and weaknesses were relatively easy for students and employees to identify, the groups had more difficulty envisioning external opportunities and threats.
- Employees identified opportunities for improving efficiency and reducing costs through economies of scale, collaboration and cloud computing. Employees and students both listed expansion of wireless network access as an opportunity.
- The most significant threat envisioned by faculty, staff and administrators was the challenge of balancing the University’s technology capacity with rapidly rising expectations. The groups also listed security challenges, legal mandates and economic conditions as threats.
- Students recognized that growing demand for technology creates a threat. They suggested that the rapidly growing range of mobile devices might create a threat to the quality of support. Students also recognized the strain that growing technology demands would place on the University, expressing concerns about budget priorities. Finally, students identified concerns about access to technology in cases of emergencies.