This month marks the beginning of my second year at VCU. In this month’s CIO blog, I’d like to highlight some of our successes and achievements and say a little about where we are going from a more strategic perspective.
The following is not even close to a complete list of the past year’s accomplishments, but here are some items I view as particularly noteworthy over the past year:
- Succession planning: Each area has submitted a succession plan to me. I would like to highlight the UCC’s efforts as an excellent example of why this is important and how it can work when well thought out and well executed. The UCC faced some key retirements over the past year and there are more retirements planned. The impact of these retirements was managed by planning well in advance; by assessing the mix of positions currently versus potential future needs; and by identifying potential internal candidates for those positions. The result has been continuity of excellent service, well-deserved promotions for some staff, and a realignment of positions to enable future projects.
- Outsourcing when it makes sense: Migrating to Blackboard managed hosting, contracting with PerceptIS to expand helpIT Center support to 24X7 to support expansion of online course offerings, and our pilot of cloud-based authentication services are good examples of effective use of outsourcers to meet critical needs quickly and economically.
- Continuing to build on IT Governance: While we still have more work to do, we now have much more transparency around the portfolio of IT projects at VCU as well as more thoughtful planning and prioritization.
- Leveraging and consolidating centrally managed applications and services: Expansion of ImageNow, migration of many sites to TerminalFour, and further consolidating servers and storage are all examples of initiatives that have helped us do more for customers with the same number of people.
- Building and expanding critical infrastructure to meet increasing demand for network bandwidth and coverage: We have been able to continue to make investments in our infrastructure through solid planning and collaboration with SGA, FMD, TAC, and research areas.
As we plan for the next fiscal and academic year, I would like to highlight some of the major initiatives we will continue to work through:
- Upgrade of the UCC: Due to circumstances beyond our control, construction is not yet underway, but we believe we are getting close to being able to start. Completing this critical electrical and mechanical infrastructure upgrade will position us well for the years to come.
- Consolidation of building access and card systems: By leveraging our expertise with CBORD for our campus card solution, we will be partnering with VCU Safety and Security and FMD in implementing CBORD as VCU’s integrated building access system.
- Implementation of LANDesk Service Desk: We are on track to migrate to LANDesk Service Desk for the helpIT Center in early summer, and we will continue to evaluate LANDesk’s capabilities to help us in other areas,
- Assisting with key University systems initiatives: TS will work diligently in partnership with the Development and Alumni Relations team to support the implementation of the new Constituency Relationship Management (CRM) system, and we will be partnering with FMD in implementation of a new Parking System (PARCS).
- Banner revitalization: This May we will be launching a project to look at our use of Banner at an institutional level. This project will be more about business process improvements and decision support needs than technology issues. We will be partnering with colleagues across various units to start this important work. As we proceed, we believe we will find opportunities to better leverage Banner to support institutional needs.
At the more strategic level, I would like to highlight some areas on which I expect there to be high levels of focus and effort:
- Identity and Access Management: We have been talking about this for quite some time. A key issue has been getting our Active Directory project completed. As that work comes to a close, we will need to develop and implement a full-fledged strategy and associated initiative.
- Communication and Collaboration Technologies and Platforms: As much of our telecommunications infrastructure is nearing the time where replacement is needed, we will need to evaluate options and strategies. Do we simply upgrade/expand our VoIP systems? Do we look at more comprehensive unified communications options? What is our mobile strategy and how does this fit in and align with the larger strategy? What should be our strategy around video and web conferencing? How does this align with VCU’s strategies around on-line learning and digital engagement? There are many questions around this issue, and it is important for us to develop some answers here as well.
- Institutional Efficiencies: Technology, and therefore technology staff, can play an important role in enabling and delivering efficiencies, whether it be cost savings or process improvements. We will need to make sure our organization is structured and positioned to contribute to these efforts.
Again, this is an incomplete list of all we’re working on, but I hope it gives us all an appreciation of how important the work we all do is to VCU. I want to thank all of you for contributing to a great first year here and what has been an exciting and remarkable time for me in my career and life. I look forward to my continued service here and am grateful to work alongside such a great team of colleagues.