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Management Briefing - 2016-2017 Strategic IT Initiatives

Author: ITS

Posted on Apr 14, 2016

Category: Management Briefings

ITS and the Enterprise IT Advisory Committee are pleased to present the final list of approved 2016-2017 strategic IT initiatives. ITS has adopted Balanced Scorecard as its strategic planning methodology; this list is the result of an extensive process of review, consultation, identification of appropriate metrics, and revision. As with previous lists of strategic IT initiatives, we’ve aligned and grouped this one according to UNB’s strategic objectives. ITS thanks the Enterprise IT Advisory Committee for its advice, support, and enthusiasm.

Transformative Student Experience

1. connectEd evolution—Provide staff and faculty with the ability to opt-in to the Microsoft Office365 environment. While this initiative extends Office365 to UNB employees, students benefit because they can use a familiar toolset to interact with their instructors and access support resources. Students have been using Office365 for several years now, and are accustomed to the platform. We will encourage faculty and staff to use it as well, so that student collaboration, consultation, and interaction will be enhanced. Microsoft has deployed new data center facilities in Canada to house this and other cloud services, thus reducing institutional concerns over data jurisdiction and control. Expected completion: 1 year.

2. Student technology fee governance – ITS has worked hard to ensure students continue to have access to high-quality computing resources despite overall reductions in financial support for these services. Over the last couple of years we have virtualized software so that it is useable on students’ own devices, reducing the need for costly and labor-intensive computing labs. This initiative seeks to ensure that funding remains consistent from year to year, so we can expand virtualization while further reducing physical computers in traditional labs. Easy access to needed software combined with the convenience of use anywhere/anytime vastly improves students’ computing experiences. Expected completion: Complete.

3. Service desk—The current Help Desk (referring to in-person, phone and email contact), will be dramatically changed, ensuring students, staff and faculty have a much better experience when they need support from ITS. The current model is largely a referral service, receiving issues from users and referring them on to internal or other units and individuals for action. Staff on the Service Desk will be equipped to handle many more technical issues immediately, for example password resets, ordering mobility roaming packages, configuring orders for hardware, among many others. The most important element for success is staff training and preparedness, along with excellent customer-relation and technical skills. Expected completion: 2 years.

4. Mobile apps – Apps are an increasingly popular and efficient way to deliver important student services, particularly data-centric ones. New features and functionality will be added to the 2 main apps supported by ITS, from Ellucian (linked to the Student Information and Financial systems) and Blackboard Transact (UCard transactions, deposits, and door access). Expected completion: 2 years.

Discovery, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

5. Mac management – Mac computers are difficult to manage from an enterprise perspective; large numbers of Macs in computing labs are particularly labor-intensive and time consuming to maintain and to keep updated. By contrast, large numbers of Windows computers have long been much easier to manage centrally. In this initiative solutions for central management of Mac computers will be explored, and an acceptable tool deployed. Besides ensuring that Mac machines remain available to users, this tool will make the maintenance and updating of Macs much faster and more efficient for faculty and staff. Expected completion: 1 year.

6. SharePoint application development – SharePoint (a collaboration and workflow platform from Microsoft) has great potential to automate many currently manual or semi-manual work processes within UNB. Over the next 18 months SharePoint will be rolled out to the community, starting with a new site for Board and Senate agendas and minutes. As we gain experience with SharePoint, ITS will roll out new features and applications with increasing frequency and scope. Expected completion: 18 months.

7. User surveys – 2 major surveys were recently completed to gauge user attitudes and perceptions of various IT services. These surveys, one of UNB leaders, another of students, establish a baseline for various metrics (e.g. levels of satisfaction, perceptions of value, capacity indicators, service gaps, etc.). We will repeat the surveys at regular intervals to gauge progress. Expected completion: Complete.

8. Business support for space inventory – There are a number of applications and tools in use at UNB for identifying, allocating, and reserving space including classrooms, meeting rooms, exam spaces, etc. The various systems are not integrated; having been adopted for specific purposes rather than to meet general enterprise needs, they have been developed and deployed in isolation. The initiative will look at ways to improve the situation, perhaps through consolidation of systems, or better coordination between them, or both. Expected completion: 2 years.

Financial Resilience and Responsibility

9. Enterprise ecommerce solution – Like space systems, UNB has a plethora of ecommerce solutions in use. We will investigate moving to a single ecommerce platform for all purposes, beginning with deployment within the ITS Procurement unit. The initiative is targeted directly at eliminating duplication, reducing overhead (both labor and cost), and making electronic transactions at UNB more convenient and secure. Expected completion: 2 years.

10. Disaster recovery facility optimization – As advanced technology, particularly server virtualization, has been deployed by ITS, we have simultaneously reduced potential downtimes should disaster befall the main UNB data center in Head Hall. We expect very short, or no outages, at all. Expected completion: Complete.

11. Data strategy and management for better decisions – ITS is leading or participating in several projects to introduce a structured approach to data at UNB, including drafting an Information Security policy framework, formulating a data management and governance framework, and supporting the revitalization of the Colleague ERP system. As stakeholders develop and work with new ways of managing data, it will become easier to discover, analyze, and report various facets of our data pool, enabling better student support and enterprise decision making. This initiative includes focused efforts to improve the overall quality and accessibility of enterprise data, along with deployment of new data analysis methods and tools. Expected completion: 2 years.

12. Professional development plans for ITS staff – Over several years, ITS has implemented an effective performance management system that has resulted in positive, informative, and consistent results for the university and staff alike. Employees are provided with constructive feedback, and have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns over their own positions. One element still missing is a systematic and transparent approach to ensuring staff have adequate training for their roles, plus appropriate opportunities for professional development for career advancement and personal growth. This initiative will incorporate planning and processes to reach the goal of meaningful training and professional development plans for all ITS staff; funding will be allocated thoughtfully, targeted at specific outcomes.. Expected completion: 1 year.

Building a better community and province

13. UNB intranet – ITS will provide UNB with a user-friendly, secure, coherent, and manageable environment in which to conduct much of its daily work. Proposed features include file and document sharing, versioning, tracking, and storage; a new interface providing the jumping-off point for many services and resources; plus relevant, up-to-date directories containing the information users need to thrive in the university community. Based on SharePoint, the new UNB intranet will replace familiar but outdated services like file shares; we intend to eliminate the “P” drive once and for all through this initiative. Expected completion: 18 months.

14. Education Computing Network (ECN) shared IT services – ITS has been leading and fostering shared IT services among higher education institutions within New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island for many years. Appropriate strategies, technologies, and funding are in place now to advance shared IT services in our region to an unprecedented level, whether in Canada or beyond. Key investments have been made in UNB’s IT infrastructure (particularly a complete renovation of our data center). This initiative is taking shared IT services to the next level, with server, application, and backup hosting provided by ITS to other consortium partners. Expected completion: 1 year.

15. ITS service catalog – ITS is committed to delighting users with services that work for them. To help us reach this goal, we need to describe, quantify, assess, and improve individual services. Development of the service catalog is a crucial step forward, providing the impetus for better, more finely-tuned services that users want and need. The service catalog will be completely open and accessible to the community, presenting not only the array of services available, but also associated quality commitments, costs, and access methods. Expected completion: 18 months.

16. IT network and security architecture – ITS is undertaking a significant effort to re-architect and then rebuild UNB’s communications networks, both wired and wireless, focusing on security, simplicity, ease of use, and conservation of resources. Faced with increasing demand for network availability and capacity, while coping with growing threats of breaches, phishing attempts, denial of service attacks, and on and on, ITS needs to ensure that the network is always ready to meet many needs, but also safe from exploit and potential loss of money, intellectual property, and reputation. All parts of the network will be affected, and improved, within this initiative. Expected completion: 2 years.

strategic it initiatives 2016-2017 timeline

April 14, 2016, Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS