Progress Report – IT Service Review

The IT review, led by a committee of McMaster academic leaders and researchers, examines and evaluates information technology service and delivery across campus with a goal to identify perceptions on service levels, area service gaps, and opportunities for improving in IT services delivery across campus.


There has been significant progress made following last year’s University IT Service Review with new ways for the campus to be involved in IT planning and delivery and new approaches to improve service and support.

The Review was led by a committee of McMaster academic leaders and researchers, external IT leaders from other research-intensive Universities and students. It examined and evaluated information technology service and delivery across campus with a goal to identify perceptions on service levels, area service gaps, and opportunities for improving in IT services delivery across campus.

“The review gave us valuable insight and set the bar high on how to improve IT. I’m pleased with our progress so far, and even happier to share updates with the campus,” says Gayleen Gray, McMaster’s Assistant Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, who joined the University in late August of this year.

Here are some of the key learnings from the review, and actions taken so far to address them.

How are IT decisions made?

One of the key review recommendations focuses on enhancing stakeholder engagement in IT decision-making and ensuring the research community, teaching and learning areas, and students can provide input and gain a deeper understanding of decisions. Officially launched earlier this year, a new IT Governance structure was introduced to improve IT decision making while ensuring the technology needs of all areas of the University are considered.

“It’s important that key stakeholders understand they are a critical part of the IT conversation,” Gray says. New committees are now in place and include the Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans, members of the research community and other department to help shape approaches and advocate for interests across faculties and departments. The new structure includes an IT Executive Committee and four subcommittees and encourages and facilitates collegial decision making with a goal of sharing benefits across the campus.

Currently, twelve project proposals have gone through the IT Governance review process, bringing increased awareness and visibility to critical projects. The recent rollout of Microsoft Office Campus Licence Agreement was one of the first projects to go through the IT Governance process, and now students, faculty and staff are able to enjoy free access to Office software. Since September there have been nearly 10,000 software downloads.

Funding

The Service Review indicated that departments and faculties were not aware of how to get critical IT initiatives funded and/or approved, and budget guidelines and expectations for IT investments were not transparent.

With the new IT Governance committees and process, funding decisions should be much clearer. The new process involves a broad group of Faculty and department leadership who participate in making decisions with the entire institution in mind. Campus constituents are encouraged to bring projects forward through the IT Governance process when they are in need of an IT-related solution that requires funding; or when a team, department or Faculty does not require funding, but need approval and support for a campus wide IT-related solution or investment.

Structure and Service Delivery

The Service Review identified an inconsistent approach to delivery of IT services across campus. In some cases, faculty and staff don’t know where to go for help or what services are available.

One of Gray’s priority areas is communication – to provide updates, to share information about available services in partnership with IT partners across campus, and to understand common concerns and issues so they can be addressed.

In 2018, there will be a new AVP and CTO website, additional strategies for engaging the campus community, including a Student Advisory Committee, quarterly IT Townhall Updates to share progress with the McMaster community and more. Gray plans to keep the McMaster community well informed as the planning and execution of other recommendations from the IT Services Review are undertaken.

If you have a question, idea or want to learn more about any of these plans, email  cr_itrev@mcmaster.ca

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