Monday, December 1, 2014

Planning for the future

Last week, I met with the Morris Campus Student Association to share an update on campus technology, including our status with the campus IT Masterplan. I would also like to share that update here:

In 2011-2012, I led a cross-team working group to refresh our campus IT Masterplan. The previous IT Masterplan was outdated and no longer actionable; it was the perfect time to regroup and analyze our campus technology needs so we could plan for the future. That working group generated a brief document that identified five basic categories of technology needs:
  1. Essential needs:
    Projects and activities that must be addressed immediately. While these are not prerequisites for other sections, the essential needs represent high priority issues, including networks, security, and web.
  2. Structural needs:
    Issues that address clarity in organization and structure, including “where do I go for help?”
  3. Resource needs:
    Budgets and technology replacement strategies for the Morris campus.
  4. Educational support:
    Recommendations that support electronic learning, technology awareness, and research needs of the campus.
  5. Technology services:
    Items that address specific needs and campus projects, such as the learning commons and student printing.

The IT Masterplan outlined fourteen goals for technology investment, grouped under these five categories. You may also think of these goals as vision statements. Within each vision statement, we also listed actionable items: projects that would set us along a path towards each goal.

Here is an overview of the IT Masterplan, delivered in May 2012:

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That's a lot of information to digest, but you can see the vision statements and the action items for each. Along the top, we provide an indicator for calendar year and fiscal year, slotting effort into appropriate time periods as planning and budgets permit. Please note the check-marks next to most of the action items; these indicate completed work. We have been making significant progress in addressing these technology needs. The technology support units at UMM have worked together towards these goals, and we have accomplished much.

An updated version of the IT Masterplan, showing ongoing work:

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This updated version of the IT Masterplan focuses only on open items, and provides a solid framework on which we are building our IT investments and effort over the next several years. Some are long-term initiatives or goals, and others are short-term projects for this fiscal year. This fiscal year planning is especially important today when CIOs must quantify costs related to projects: systems, processes, and staff. We need to be innovative in our introduction of technology, but also remain good stewards to the university budget.

A few highlights from the plan: We continue to expand our universal wireless, which is an ongoing improvement of our wireless network. We have significantly improved our desktop and laptop management through Active Directory; this provides greater flexibility to you, and easier updates and support for us. And we are making substantial progress in the campus website, migrating to a new web content management system. In future, the Library plans to build a new learning commons, which will become the new location for technology checkout and the helpdesk. These future items are shown in purple.

But strategic planning doesn't end here. With technology, we need to keep thinking about the future to avoid getting stuck in the past. So in Spring semester, we will launch a small, focused working group to refresh the IT Masterplan. This will not be a re-write of the IT Masterplan; instead, the new working group will seek to identify technology efforts and strategies that we should change, stop, or start. For example, do we need to refocus how we deliver certain services? We should change these services. Or, are we currently providing technology services that no longer provide value, that are no longer being used? We should stop these services. Also, what new technologies have emerged that would benefit the campus? We should start these new services. The IT Masterplan refresh is shown in orange.

In refreshing the IT Masterplan, we will also work through campus governance, including member participation from Academic Support Services Committee. I also wish the updated IT Masterplan to document our governance model for technology at Morris. Similar to the IT Governance Process used by IT@UMN, our governance model should capture the input cycle (formal and informal), prioritization, and decision-making process that involves Academic Support Services, Planning Committee, Consultative Committee, TechPeople, and others.

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