Delivery of campus IT services focus of strategic transformation effort
By SUE WUETCHER
go to the UB2020 website
UB is scrutinizing its information-technology functions in an effort to take an operation that administrators say already is doing very well and transform it into one that is even more efficient and effective.
Part of the UB 2020 institutional planning process, the IT Strategic Transformation Initiative has been examining the existing organizational structures, processes, systems and resources used to deliver IT services across the two campuses, says Voldemar Innus, vice president and chief information officer and sponsor of the team overseeing the initiative.
Once data are evaluated, Innus explains, the IT Strategic Transformation Committee will propose "a clearly articulated set of campus IT priorities and strategies that are connected to campus strategic goals and priorities" and that will improve the service-delivery model for IT services.
"The team began its work with the assumption that the staff of the various IT organizations is doing an admirable job of addressing technology challenges within the confines of the existing system," he points out, "but that the committee should question all aspects of the existing systems and organization that currently deliver IT services to campus customers."
Adds Elias Eldayrie, associate vice president for information technology and leader of the IT strategic transformation team: "Although we believe we are extremely competitive when it comes to IT as compared to other institutions across the nationwe have done very wellwe also believe there are areas for improvement that we could and should pursue.
"We believe UB 2020 is a great opportunity to take IT and make it better yet through the IT transformation initiative we're engaged in right now. We have senior leadership support, senior leadership guidance, staff commitmenteverybody's lined up, from the president on down. It's a once-in-a lifetime opportunity," he says.
Eldayrie notes that IT at UB currently operates with a central organization (CIT) that provides many services, specifically enterprise-system type services, as well as a "distributed community" environment (the nodes) in which each dean, each vice president and some of the research centers have their own IT support staff and, in some cases, their own infrastructure. Thus, IT services vary across the campus, since groups have different needs, funding models and infrastructures, he points out. We believe that efficiencies and effectiveness across the campus can be realized through a better governance structure, a service delivery model that meets our campus needs, a campus IT funding model and a technology investment road map. Today each unit across UB provides IT services as best it can with the system that is in place, he adds.
"Right now, that's the issue we're trying to examine: Are we providing IT services the way we ought to be doing it, considering the system we're working in?
"The UB2020 IT transformation initiative gives us IT professionals an opportunity to figure out a way to leverage each others' strengths and eliminate each others' inefficiencies, as well as give us opportunities to collaborate with each other and identify areas in which we can realize efficiencies and effectiveness." he says,
The first phase of the initiative builds upon information that arose during the service mapping exercise that took place last fall. "We are making an effort to drill down into the specifics of the IT environment. The actual data-gathering is being done by three subcommittees of the IT Strategic Transformation Committee," Eldayrie says:
The UB IT Environment subcommittee is conducting an inventory of IT professionals, assets, applications, software and hardware; surveying the use of, and satisfaction regarding, enterprise data systems; and collecting information on governance, funding, implementation and IT challenges.
The Customer Profiles subcommittee is conducting focus groups with IT customersfaculty, staff and studentsin an effort to better understand the "business drivers"how their needs managers and end-users intersect with technology and the delivery of technology services.
The Leading Practices and Institutional Models subcommittee is reviewing a set of leading IT practices and working closely with groups such The Gartner Group and Educause, and consulting with CIO's and others at more than 12 of UB's peer institutions.
The subcommittees have an aggressive timeline to meet, with data-gathering to be completed by the end of July and benchmarking by mid-August. Work of the Customer Profile group will be ongoing through October, since many "customers" have left campus for the summer, Eldayrie adds.
The IT Strategic Transformation Committee expects to make recommendations to the UB 2020 Executive Committee by the end of the year regarding IT strategic planning, governance, funding, service-delivery, professional development for IT staff and special IT initiatives in which the university may want to invest.
The ultimate goal, Eldayrie says, is to develop and implement an IT strategy that "better serves the needs of our campus, and advances academic excellence."
CIO Innus has also initiated a series of IT Town Hall meetings aimed at building a community of IT professional across the campus. "The town hall series will provide us with a regular opportunity to bring together the various IT groups in an informal setting, talk about issues, provide updates, share information and leverage good ideas and best practices," said Innus. The first meeting in the series is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. July 7 in 120 Clemens Hall, North Campus. The meeting is intended primarily for IT professionals, but is an open meeting for all interested campus staff, Eldayrie says.
There also is a Web site, http://www.buffalo. edu/ub2020/itstt, where members of the campus community can find more information about the IT initiative, and an email alias, email@example.com for feedback.
"We would like to encourage everyone to be part of our process. President Simpson's goal for UB2020 is be open and inclusive. And that's exactly our goal and intent for the IT transformation initiative," Eldayrie says.
In addition to Innus and Eldayrie, members of the IT strategic transformation team are Chuck Dunn, director, technical services, CIT, technical advisor to the team; Dave Costello, assistant dean, School of Management; Ray Dannenhoffer, associate dean, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Tom Furlani, associate director, Center for Computational Research.
Also, Paul Goodman, assistant dean, School of Engineering; Nancy Kielar, assistant vice president, CIO Administrative Operations; Mike LeVine, associate vice president and controller; Jim Nadbrzuch, associate vice president, Student Affairs; Bruce Pitman, associate dean for research, College of Arts and Sciences.
Also, Barbara Ricotta, associate vice president and dean, Student Affairs; Peter Rittner, assistant dean for educational technology, CAS; Steve Roberts, assistant vice president, University Libraries; Mike Ryan, vice provost for undergraduate education; and Kathy Stuber, assistant vice president, Development.