Penn State’s IT Assessment
On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, Kevin Morooney, Vice Provost for Information Technology, talked with more than 70 attendees across several campuses about the multi-year project to assess the state of the University’s information technology systems and resources. He shared some of the findings from this process, described the proposed actions that came from it, and answered questions from the audience.
Morooney started the discussion with a brief review of the University’s strategic plan. He specifically focused on Goal 6: Use technology to expand access and opportunities and its strategies of investing in robust and flexible IT for teaching, research, and administration; balancing services for greater efficiency; and protecting the security and integrity of the IT infrastructure. As an early step in implementing these strategies, an outside consultant was brought in to work with an executive committee and assess where the University was currently at in terms of how much it invests in technology, where rebalancing of services could result in better use of resources, how the University could better decide on investment of services, and what services should be focused on in the near term.
Morooney described the general approach for the IT assessment and how data was collected. Extensive interviews (about 50) were conducted with budget executives and IT leaders throughout the system at college, campus, and administrative levels. Just because we’re in the average for expenditures doesn’t mean we don’t have a tremendous amount of work to do.
-Kevin MorooneyOperations data and information on expenditures were reported. Working from that, opportunities to improve IT services were identified. Morooney explained that while total IT expenditures were about average compared to Penn State’s peers, there was a sense that more could be done to enhance quality and make the best use of the resources available.
Morooney said that two “products” emerged from the review process – a list of IT areas that could be examined for rebalancing in the near term, and the recognition for a governance/planning framework needed to be created to manage future progress and assessments of that progress. The opportunities for improvement identified in this review included: email and calendar systems for faculty and staff; long-term data storage and archiving; server co-location and virtualization; expanded lab and desktop management; software distribution license management; a shared service desk system; and expanded wireless access to function as a common good.
Morooney described the creation of a new IT governance model informed by the results of the review in more details. This would be a representative, executive level IT group invested in understanding the complexities of IT issues and decisions. They would plan what needs to be done, prioritize how to do it, and assess the effectiveness of strategies and services while engaging faculty, students, and staff about their needs. This would be a more planned and organized approach than had been taken previously.
He also explained how the IT review fit in with the University’s larger academic and administrative program review efforts and discussed the next steps as the final Core Council deliberations on ITS and the IT Assessment were ongoing. He expected to receive a directive to move ahead on the seven identified actions, develop a planning process so IT assessments were implemented on a regular basis, develop an IT strategic plan, and build new planning and decision-making constructs through the IT Governance model.
Morooney finished the session by taking questions from the audience. He was asked about the availability of data collected for the IT assessment, making enterprise systems and data stores more accessible, how IT can affect student learning, and more.
View the PowerPoint slide presentation.
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