Strategic Management for Information Technology
On Tuesday, October 26, 2010, Kevin Morooney, Vice Provost for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, spoke to more than 90 attendees at the second Quality Advocates session offered this fall. He provided the group with an update on IT initiatives relevant to the strategic plan and how Penn State’s approaches to those initiatives reflect and relate to external technological changes.
Morooney framed the discussion about these initiatives by providing the group with an update on The IT Assessment. Managed by an executive committee and a large and well-represented advisory committee, The IT Assessment is an activity that directly supports the University's mission. Specifically, the Assessment addresses the following strategies stated in Goal 6 of the University's Strategic Plan: to use technology to expand access and opportunities, and to re-balance centralized and dispersed facilities and services for greater efficiency and effectiveness.
This process is the mechanism by which we develop new muscles and how it is we have the conversations about doing things together differently.As a function of this activity, Morooney explained his interpretation of Goal 6 as involving the development of an accurate investment strategy for IT infrastructures, improving planning, and better managing risks. More specifically, he saw improving planning as a mechanism for developing accurate investments and better managing risks.
Part of this improved planning process has involved working with an outside consultant who understood that Goal 6 was not about reducing investments in technology and people, but instead figuring out how to make best use of those investments through the proper alignment of central and dispersed IT services for the activities to which they are best suited. It needs to be determined what IT services should be allowed to vary by area to meet unique needs and which needs would be better served by a more consistent solution.
To better inform these improvements, the consultant has interviewed over 50 IT executives and plans to meet with more. From the interviews so far, the executives acknowledged the analysis as necessary, advised that any rebalancing should support future strategic priorities, indicated that rebalancing is already taking place in some areas, and shared that the most significant barrier to rebalancing is trust. The needs and function analysis mentioned has been kicked off with IT areas collecting data and sharing it using Web tools.
Morooney stressed the importance of looking at both internal and external spheres of influence when undertaking a process like this. In the University system, he referenced the Data Center Master Plan, the Student Information System replacement, the IT Governance Council at Hershey, and the Cyberscience Taskforce as efforts to keep an eye on, among others. We have to change the conversations we have with the large companies we deal with.External groups and initiatives he mentioned included the Internet2 project, Kuali, Sakai, and the Joint Strategic Plan to Combat Intellectual Property Theft. Increased complexity and more frequent demands necessitate alignment and collaboration to realize desired efficiencies.
Morooney explained that issues of safety, data, and access were foremost on his mind during this planning, and spoke about what he hopes to get out of all the work. He wants to see the templates being used to collect data kept current and serve as a reference for future work, a report presenting the results of the baseline analysis, a framework that can be used to determine which services would best be provided locally versus broadly, and recommendations for implementing short and long-term strategic actions.
In the question and answer period following the presentation, the group discussed where the user fits in the planning process, the trust and courage needed to change, the time needed to affect large changes, and the challenges involved in trying to classify costs as IT or business operating costs.
View slides from presentation.
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