Information Technology Support Services Plan II 2005-2009
The Division of Information Technology is planning for technology services that will be provided to the university community through 2009. The Division’s focus is on cost-effective technology support for the university’s implementation of the Academic Plan through programming efforts, personnel assignments, and budget commitments that will advance the objectives and support the mission of the university.
The planning process used to develop action items for the IT Draft SSP included unit self-studies, surveys of students, faculty and staff, and the results of a review of technology services (ITSR) by the consulting firm of RSM McGladrey, Inc. Action items in the draft reflect needs, not implementation strategies or available funding. Action items that rose to the level of the division plan will be considered for funding ahead of departmental action items that are not included in the division plan.
Action items will move forward for study or implementation only as alternatives are explored and funding is available. Some divisional action items are derived from departmental action items based on needs identified in the unit self-studies; others are tied to Academic Plan action items or the ITSR; and, still others reflect needs expressed by students, faculty and staff.
The campus community’s suggestions are an essential component of the planning process. Please click on the link below to view IT’s progress on the Action Items of the UW Support Services Plan for which IT is responsible for or is assisting other Divisions to implement. You may also review the Information Technology Support Services Plan, departmental draft plans and unit self-studies are provided for background information and detail by clicking on the links below.
The mission of the Division of Information Technology is to provide students, faculty and staff with the technology infrastructure and support services that will advance the University of Wyoming’s mission of education, research, outreach and service. Under the direction of the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, the division is organized into four departments that provide students, faculty, and staff with high performance computing and networking, technical support for systems and applications, computer support and training, and telecommunications services. IT provides these essential technology services to virtually all students, academic and administrative units.
Technology is integral to research, instruction and administration. The academic community depends on technology to be accessible and reliable to empower its users to transform teaching, research and learning. The University relies on uninterrupted technology services to deliver business operations in an efficient, cost-effective manner. The University of Wyoming, as the state’s land-grant university, uses technology tools to serve the citizens of Wyoming and their communities and to connect them to the university’s resources. The Division of Information Technology’s challenge is to identify and achieve the appropriate level of service for each of the many and varied uses of technology by the institution, for both the present and the future. This plan presents action items that, over the next five years, will guide the division in its efforts to meet that challenge with high quality services, infrastructure and expert advice.
Network connectivity, wireless access, and student computing labs are recognized as areas of excellence for Information Technology. In 2003, The Princeton Review recognized the University of Wyoming’s data network as the 13th most connected university in the United States. Intel Corporation ranked the University’s wireless access 67th among the top 100 “Most Unwired College Campuses” in 2004. The 2004 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Survey showed that UW students ranked their satisfaction with the University of Wyoming’s Computer Labs at 5.65 (on a scale of 1 to 7). This ranking was significantly above the national average of 5.23, and was also the highest satisfaction ranking for UW of the 89 areas surveyed.
In 2004, through the University of Wyoming’s partnerships with Colorado State University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Front Range Gigapop, Information Technology activated “BiSON,” a 2 Gbps high-speed data circuit. BiSON, which connects UW, through Denver, to the Internet and research networks such as Internet2 and National Lambda Rail, is forty times faster than UW’s previous Internet connectivity speed. In March of 2005, a separate mirrored, high-speed data circuit was activated, providing UW with a redundant, geographically dispersed ring network for maximum reliability. The speed of connectivity to the Internet and the potential to expand bandwidth as needed in the future significantly advance UW’s research capabilities and strengthen student educational capabilities to a level that is equal to that of the most well-connected and highest-performing universities in the world.
The Division of Information Technology’s most valuable resources are its highly skilled staff members, who provide a broad range of support to the university community. IT measures employee performance on five core values: customer service; teamwork; a positive work environment; planning and project management; and quality and effectiveness of work. IT is a values-based organization that strives to provide excellence of service and expertise as a technology enabler and partner for all members of the university community.
Information Technology will provide technology that will advance the
objectives of the Academic Plan. The Division will address the specific
technology needs of the academic community --expressed in the action items of
the Academic Plan -- and will focus on two institutional issues identified in
the Plan: the Educational Infrastructure and the Learning Environment.
Information Technology will strengthen Educational Infrastructure, enable
technology to be more fully integrated into the Learning Environment, and
continually assess how technology resources can be directed to make their
greatest impact on teaching, learning, research, and the administrative
processes that support these efforts.
The Division of Information Technology, in developing the Support Services Plan, requested input from the campus community through online surveys during the 2004 and 2005 spring terms. Participation was significant, with 741 faculty and staff and 1,263 student respondents in 2004 and with 921 faculty and staff and 1,135 student respondents in 2005. Responses indicated a high level of satisfaction with technology services. On a 5 point scale, with 5 indicating the highest level of satisfaction, student respondents rated their overall satisfaction with services in both years as a 3.7; faculty and staff rated their satisfaction level as a 3.9 overall. Both groups displayed a strong interest in seeing new technologies implemented, and many of the responses have been incorporated into the division’s action items.
Another element in developing this plan was the review of campus-wide information technology services by RSM McGladrey, Inc. The review was undertaken to identify key technology issues and vulnerabilities that affect the campus community and to develop recommendations that align technology provision with the University’s objectives.
A Planning Team appointed by the President guided the review process. The consultants received input from Deans, Directors, and technical faculty and staff, of whom 98 completed questionnaires and 149 were interviewed. The consultants’ specific recommendations were presented to the Planning Team and to the University community in April, 2005. The community was invited to comment. The Planning Team is considering the comments in making their subsequent recommendations to the President and Executive Council. Implementation alternatives resulting from the Information Technology Services Review and recommended by the Planning Team, President and Executive Council will be explored with the University community.
Feedback received from the University community through the review process and the consultants’ technology assessment were considered in developing action items for this plan, and are reflected by the focus on developing comprehensive strategies for technology, improving security and increasing cost efficiency. Action items incorporating specific strategic initiatives recommended by the consultants reference the related initiative.
Additional divisional action items were developed through a self-study process conducted by Information Technology Departments. In the fall of 2004, a series of meetings was held with unit staff members to define services and to identify the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of each unit. These self-studies generated departmental plans that will guide each department’s work program for the next five years. Departmental level action items are presented in IT departmental plans. Action items resulting from the process that support the Academic Plan at a high level are presented in this Divisional Support Services Plan.
Some action items listed below will be relatively simple to implement, others will be more complex, and most will require consultation and collaboration with various stakeholders. The action items that will be most difficult to implement are those that may require reallocation of resources or additional funding and will include initiatives that resulted from the RSM McGladrey, Inc. review. Action items reflect needs, not available funding, and items will move forward for study or implementation only as they are approved for funding. Unfunded items may be carried forward to the subsequent planning period for action. As action items are implemented, progress will be measured annually, against service level, staffing, budget and other benchmarks where available.
The University’s new Student Information System will streamline administration of many student services and will provide personalized, connected online facilities that can be used to enhance classroom instruction. WyoWeb, the student portal that will be implemented in connection with the system, will increase student engagement by allowing students to organize and manage their transactions and activities in an easy, convenient manner. WyoWeb will improve information access and communication by extending personalized services to students, faculty, staff and other groups affiliated with UW.
The WyoWeb portal brings a student’s critical information, UW email account, and online calendar into a single web location that the student can access from anywhere in the world. Based on the individual user's roles within the University, all users will have ready access to information appropriate to their role and will receive communications of interest to them. The portal also gives users the ability to personalize the look of WyoWeb.
Action Item 1: Student Information System, WyoWeb Portal (University SSP Action Item). Provide the technology and expertise to successfully implement the new Student Information System and WyoWeb portal that will include delivery of registration services to off-campus students as envisioned in Academic Plan Action Item 127 and automation of scholarship awards pursuant to Academic Plan Action Item 134.
Safeguarding the privacy of individuals has been a growing concern for universities nationwide. The University of Wyoming recognizes the critical importance of protecting privacy and securing the personal data entrusted to it by employees, students, and others. The university will safeguard an individual’s private information by making appropriate efforts to secure and protect such information. A significant step in strengthening data privacy at UW will be the implementation of a new Student Information System that will generate unique identification numbers for each student, rather than Social Security numbers, and manage information through technology designed to keep data secure. Other university systems will be modified to eliminate the use of Social Security numbers as general identifiers.
Action Item 2: Protecting Privacy and Personal Data (University SSP Action
Information Technology, in collaboration with appropriate university units, will eliminate the use of Social Security numbers for general identification by timely implementation of the new Student Information System and modification of other systems.
Making general information about IT operations and projects readily available, and providing timely information about technology initiatives is essential to establishing effective communication. New processes will be developed to create better awareness, encourage dialogue, and foster communication concerning technology needs. These processes will be consistent and ongoing, and will encourage the broad participation of the University community. Communications strategies may include forums, workshops, and presentations in addition to websites, electronic communications and surveys.
Action Item 3: Communication. Develop methods that will enable IT to communicate more effectively with the University community and that will generate increased feedback.
Seemingly minor changes in technology systems and services may have broad impact across campus because of the institution’s dependence on technology for communication, collaboration, scholarly work, and business processes. The Division of Information Technology is committed to improving notification of updates and modifications to the University user community to help minimize disruption. The process will begin with the internal development of comprehensive change management procedures.
Action Item 4: Notification Process and Change Management Procedures.
Develop and institute a notification process that is based upon comprehensive change management procedures.
Information Technology units conduct various surveys throughout the year to obtain feedback on customer satisfaction and specific needs. In 2004, the Division also conducted an overall technology needs survey that will be repeated annually not only for benchmarking purposes, but for use in identifying new and evolving demands, needs, and usage patterns. The survey elicits performance measures from respondents through rankings on a numerical scale. Rankings are compiled and analyzed to identify both the areas in which IT excels and the areas that need improvement. The Division will respond to the changes in ranking of service delivery with targeted improvements in customer service and new practices that meet the expectations of the University community.
Action Item 5: Customer Service. Utilize surveys and benchmarking to create an assessment program that will focus Information Technology’s efforts to improve customer service commensurate with customer expectations.
The 2004 RSM McGladrey, Inc. review of campus-wide information technology services recommended upgrading Help Desk services. As a technology service provider to the University community, Information Technology will strengthen customer service through Help Desk efforts to expand, coordinate, and deliver IT services to users. Implementation activities may include expanding Help Desk hours of operation, more robust answering capabilities, building stronger self-help support mechanisms, expanding the use and knowledge base records of the Help Desk software, and improving remote support capabilities. Benchmarks for computing services include maintaining an average rate of 85% for first call resolution.
Action Item 6: Strengthen IT Help Desk Services. Strengthen IT Help Desk responsiveness and effectiveness. The Help Desk will resolve problems for users seeking help with technology or relay problems to skills-based experts to be solved.
To establish priorities that are acceptable to stakeholders, institutional technology issues must be evaluated in an appropriate forum. A full discussion, engaging all parties, is needed for both the academic and administrative implications to be understood. The Division of Information Technology will actively encourage greater participation and ownership by University groups and work to strengthen existing technology groups such as Partners – the largest UW technology group with representation from both academic and administrative areas – the Academic Information Technology Committee (AITC) and others.
Action Item 7: Build Strong Relationships with UW Technology Groups.
Be proactive in building strong and productive relationships with UW’s technology groups.
Technology can be used to positively impact the classroom experience by improving information exchange and interaction between faculty and students. The Division will utilize surveys and facilitate cooperative discussion with academic units to gather input that will identify the specific academic technology needs of students, faculty and staff. Survey and discussion results, along with the Academic Plan, will guide the Division of Information Technology’s implementation of systems and processes that will best support academic programs.
Action Item 8: Academic Program Needs (University SSP Action Item).
Work with the Division of Academic affairs, the Outreach School, and the Division of Student Affairs to identify academic areas where technology enhancements can better support teaching and learning.
The Academic Plan recognized the need for a comprehensive strategy to fund and support the provision of audiovisual equipment and services for instructional use. The need is becoming more critical as technology becomes more embedded in the teaching process. Well coordinated services and evenly distributed equipment will make locating and accessing these basic resources easier for instructors. A cross-functional committee is currently studying these needs and will make recommendations for providing the services. Pursuant to Action Item 103 of the Academic Plan, the Division of Information Technology will continue to collaborate with Academic Affairs to develop and provide leadership to institute campus-wide audiovisual and instructional technology services.
Action Item 9: Expand Instructional Technology Support (University SSP Action Item). Develop ways to expand instructional technology support, including the permanent assignment of resources dedicated to supporting technology in the classroom.
Students can prepare for a successful university education by building their technology skills and knowledge of technology applications early in their University career. Collaborating with appropriate University departments to provide a program of technology training to students will position students to take full advantage of technology’s benefits from the beginning of their academic careers.
Each semester, IT, through its Academic Support Unit, offers students ten to twelve short training sessions on software applications. IT envisions delivering additional student training in a manner similar to the extensive training that IT delivered to 79 classes and 457 faculty and staff participants in 2004.
Action Item 10: Student Technology Skills Training. Work with Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, to establish a baseline for student technology skills and consider possible alternatives for increasing student technology training.
The shift in the demographics of the student population at the University of Wyoming has produced an increasing demand for learning opportunities outside the Laramie campus. This shift has produced new technology usage patterns, which have implications for UW’s technology infrastructure and delivery.
Delivering and supporting technology services such as streaming video, audio and video conferencing, and Internet-based classes (as well as hybrid online technologies combining these various delivery services) to the growing number of distance learning students becomes more complex as an increasing number and variety of academic degrees and certificate programs are offered. The need to provide academic support for distance learners (e.g., for student services and library resources) has also increased the demand for technological support.
By recommending cost-effective ways to implement appropriate technology services and infrastructure, the Division of Information Technology will collaborate with the Outreach School, the State, and others to extend connectivity to UW students wherever they reside.
Action Item 11: Support Outreach (University SSP Action Item). Collaborate with the Outreach School to increase opportunities for learning when implementing infrastructure and technologies by recommending ways to incorporate the needs of off-campus students and providing distance learning opportunities for the residents of Wyoming with infrastructure and connectivity to the resources of the University, including video, audio, and data services and, as set forth in Academic Plan Action Item 51, making LeaRN more accessible to off-campus students.
The Student Computing Lab System offers Internet access, email, Microsoft Office applications, antivirus services, software for faculty teaching purposes (178 unique software applications in 2004) and network storage space for class-related files on more than 1,000 lab nodes located across campus. The Student Computing Lab System allows students to create their own customized desktop images that are accessible to them from any lab node.
Student surveys indicate a high level of satisfaction with the Computing Lab System, and student use of the Lab System continues to grow. Between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2003, there were 1.6 million logins on 1,025 lab computers. Students ranked “more lab computers” as their highest priority when surveyed by IT in the spring of 2004. The Student Computing Lab System is primarily supported by student technology fees as part of tuition.
Making the Student Computing Lab System accessible to UW students from any location, including wireless connections, will offer identical computing capabilities to distance learning students, students off campus, and students on campus. Except for the few hours of systems maintenance on the weekend, students would be able to remotely access the Lab System 24 hours each day, seven days a week.
Action Item 12: Provide Remote Student Computing Lab System Access. Provide
remote desktop services to access the Student Computing Lab System from any
location where there is a connection to the Internet.
New security challenges arise daily from increased network connectivity, which brings exponential increases in the amount of traffic moving across the University’s network, including University and student financial transactions. Strong information security is necessary to protect data and computing systems. Users have individual roles in ensuring security through safe computing practices. The use of “best practices” security measures by users lessens the risks to both the user’s data and the data network.
The increasing need for technology to support virtually all University activities and operations suggests that new approaches to technology training should be explored. The increasing complexity of the higher education technology environment -- and the sophistication of hacking, viruses, and identity theft -- creates a need to better educate users to protect their data and the University’s network. A formalized program to train users in basic security should be considered, whether in-person or online. IT already distributes various electronic and printed bulletins concerning security, but formalized security training will make users more aware of how the University’s systems handle data and of the importance of consistently observing security measures to reduce the level of overall security risk.
Action Item 13: Security Awareness and Training. Increase security awareness and the use of best practices university-wide through in-depth education and training of faculty, staff, and students that will include review of technology training strategies and delivery of security training to students, faculty and staff via workshops, forums, and online training.
The 2004 RSM McGladrey, Inc. review of campus-wide information technology services identified the need for the University to develop a consistent, integrated security and sensitive records policy. The consultants recommended that the University evaluate the need to secure and encrypt sensitive information that is maintained on departmental computing facilities or in paper files. The review provided a sampling of sensitive records across campus. A committee consisting of representatives from Information Technology, Student Affairs, Administration, and Academic Affairs will work with departments across campus to compile a full listing of sensitive records, to review password policies, and to review records retention and archiving. The outcome of this process should be a comprehensive set of recommendations for the security of sensitive information including physical safeguards and computer and network security. Computer and network security recommendations may include encryption (encoding data) and authentication procedures to create a secure environment.
Action Item 14: Secure and Encrypt Sensitive Information. Information Technology will work with colleges and departments to evaluate the need to secure and encrypt sensitive information that is maintained on departmental computing facilities or in paper files.
The University recognizes that the number and frequency of incidences of data breaches in higher education is increasing, and that the institution must increase efforts to minimize the risk of exposure accordingly. The 2004 RSM McGladrey review of campus-wide information technology services identified physical and logical vulnerabilities of the network. The consultants recommended that the University develop a network security administration strategy including resources and network management software to minimize exposure risks to all network components, housed both inside and outside of Information Technology.
Included in this initiative would be the identification, by departments, of those domains, servers, routers, and other equipment that is not behind firewalls, as well as identification of departmental servers that are not physically secured. The first step in developing this strategy is to perform an assessment of all of the University domains, servers, routers, and other equipment to determine what tools and resources are needed to upgrade monitoring capabilities based upon the assessed risk.
Action Item 15: Network Monitoring. Assess the need for additional network monitoring tools and resources, including comprehensive intrusion testing and remote diagnostics.
The demand for remote access to the UW network is evolving from the greater use of computers at home and wireless access for laptops and PDA’s. Although faculty, staff, and student respondents to Information Technology’s 2004 Spring Survey indicated a high level of satisfaction with the University’s wireless network, all groups ranked having more wireless access points on campus as a high priority. As more students use laptop computers to access University computing resources through the planned remote student computing lab system, ubiquitous wireless access becomes more critical and a natural extension of the University’s data network.
Action Item 16: Expand Remote Network Access (University SSP Action Item).
Expand and improve remote access service capabilities, including wireless technologies and alternative high speed connectivity services.
Many research activities are enabled by a technology infrastructure that provides high performance computing, high capacity networking, and robust data storage, and IT must fully understand the technology needs of the research community to provide the appropriate infrastructure. A renewed focus on the technology needs of researchers is critical during the planning of infrastructure upgrades across campus and in designing a modern computing environment for the new Information Technology Building in the University’s Capital Facilities Plan.
Action Item 17: Technology Planning for Research Needs. Engage the University’s research community through a needs assessment to enable Information Technology to better understand and plan for technology and platforms that support researchers’ needs.
IT recognizes that the dependence of research activities on technology is growing as technology is increasingly embedded in all forms of research. Significant costs are associated with the support of multiple computing platforms and operating systems. The resources needed to support multiple computing platforms and leading operating systems (such as Macintosh, Linux, Unix and others) for academic, research and administrative use must be evaluated and planned for based on anticipated future use as well as current needs.
Action Item 18: Computing Platforms. Seek ways to expand services to include cross-functional support of non-Windows based platforms, including any departmental computing labs based on these other operating systems.
Data storage and reliable backup capability are critical to the University, and will become even more critical as library collections are digitized and libraries consider providing online access to materials on a large scale. Acquiring electronic access to, rather than ownership of, scholarly materials will demand a high speed network with greater storage capacity to provide a sustainable infrastructure for the future. Developing institutional standards for digital archiving will help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place for IT to handle data storage for all campus needs referenced in Academic Plan Action Item 100, and to enable the expansion of online information.
Imaging and storage solutions have been independently implemented by departments. Although some situations may have unique requirements, a common solution that adheres to industry standards would probably meet the needs of most University departments. Introducing standards for imaging and storage solutions will simplify the selection and implementation of supporting the technology in the future and enable the institution to utilize this technology to improve workflow between departments.
Action Item 19: Digital Archiving and Imaging Standards (University SSP Action Item). Collaborate with the Digital Summit Committee that evolved from Academic Plan Action Item 102, to explore digital standards and applications, including for digital archiving and imaging.
The technology expectations of today’s students require substantial ongoing investments in equipment and operations that are now considered essential to the learning environment. Increases in the use of computing labs have been largely supported by the central student technology fees allocated to IT for that purpose. Technology infrastructure projects funded by these fees are prioritized and approved by the Central Student Technology Committee (CSTC).
Action Item 20: Student Technology Fees. Provide the background and guidance for defining the current and future costs of providing technology to students and analyze funding mechanisms to restructure technology fees as proposed by Academic Plan Action Item 104.
A key component of the University’s technology infrastructure is the central machine room that houses the computers that provide essential University technology services, data storage, and backup for all UW’s central computing systems. These functions are vital not only to the day-to-day operations of the University, but to those of the State of Wyoming, whose data is also backed-up daily to the servers in the University’s central machine room. The basement location in the Ivinson Building, sections of which date back to 1916, is not only subject to damage from plumbing failures, flooding and natural disasters that could cause the University systems to cease functioning, it is inadequate and outdated to support today’s computing environment, and cannot accommodate future expansion. An up-to-date machine room built to current standards would substantially reduce risk by providing a more stable and secure environment and allow IT to increase the level of services offered to UW Departments.
Action Item 21: Information Technology Building (University SSP Action Item).
Develop and define the Information Technology Building for the University’s Capital Facilities Plan. Provide expertise for the building’s technologies throughout the design process.
The 2004 RSM McGladrey, Inc. review of campus-wide information technology services identified a number of campus business systems and many “unique” applications and systems supported by departmental personnel outside of the Division of Information Technology. The consultants recommended a consistent approach to supporting specialized applications that are utilized across departments to eliminate security vulnerabilities, ensure sufficient technical support resources, and maximize the benefit to the University.
The consultants identified many instances where technology had been deployed and support was provided by departments. The consultants recommended that the University consider the total cost of ownership for technology dedicated resources, including ongoing costs for overhead and staffing. Consistency and conformity to technical standards provided by centralized support should also be considered before deploying technology on a departmental basis.
Providing the most frequently needed technology support functions centrally could result in economies of scale that will reduce the ongoing total cost of ownership to the University. A study of total costs of ownership for technology applications and systems supported by individual colleges or departments would identify which applications and systems are of a critical nature, have institution-wide applicability, or could be supported more cost-efficiently for the institution by using a centralized approach. If the study indicates that significant cost-efficiencies could be captured by greater utilization of central technology support functions, institutional funding alternatives should be explored for the support structure needed to maintain them.
Action Item 22: Total Costs of Ownership for Campus Business Systems, Unique Applications and Systems. Work with departments across campus to identify applications and systems deployed on a departmental basis with little or no support from Information Technology and, with colleges and departments, study total costs.
The 2004 RSM McGladrey, Inc review of campus-wide information technology services determined that multiple email systems are used at the University. The consultants recommended that the University consider the resources expended to duplicate email services and capabilities as well as the problems of administering multiple systems. They noted that by adapting and improving workflow, the institution could capture the economies of scale that can be achieved with one centralized email system.
Action Item 23: Single Email System. Information Technology will work with affected colleges and departments to unify email for the entire University community.
The 2004 RSM McGladrey, Inc review of campus-wide information technology services that the existence of multiple domains within the University’s network infrastructure compound the complexities and coordination of network administration activities at the University. The consultants recommended that overall security and administration of the domain be controlled on a centralized basis, with local administrators maintaining certain administrative rights at the departmental level.
Action Item 24: Single Domain with Sub-uwyo-domains. Information Technology will work with affected colleges and departments to establish appropriate administrative rights for department administrators on centrally administered servers.
To manage University business processes, the University has, over the past several years, made a substantial investment in commercial financial and human resource applications purchased from PeopleSoft. The resources to implement the applications and to perform major upgrades were funded as the activities demanded. During the course of the implementation and upgrades, it was necessary to fund project activities with one-time monies.
While much has been accomplished, the nature of ongoing production and the effects of Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft must now be considered in the funding strategy for these essential applications. The total cost of ownership for these applications needs to be fully evaluated.
Action Item 25: Support for PeopleSoft Applications (University SSP Action
Develop a comprehensive total cost of ownership model for the ongoing support for the PeopleSoft Financial and Human Resource Management System (HRMS)/Payroll applications and recommend an appropriate funding level.
The 2004 RSM McGladrey, Inc review of campus-wide information technology services found no comprehensive institutional strategy in place for technology initiatives. The consultants recommended that the institution adopt a comprehensive institutional approach to evaluating and implementing technology initiatives. They noted that planning and prioritizing technology projects for the entire institution has the potential to save costs, leverage resources, and accelerate implementation processes.
The key component for this course of action is creating an institution-wide evaluation process designed to facilitate technology initiatives and maximize their value to the University. The process would be guided by an appointed committee that would evaluate a proposed project’s scope, total cost of ownership and the cost-benefit relationship for the University. This committee, the University of Wyoming Technology Planning Team, is envisioned to be a high-level, broad-based institutional stakeholder group whose responsibility would be shaping the University’s technology strategies and polices. The Team would establish the criteria, methods and policies for evaluating and implementing the University’s technology initiatives.
Action Item 26: UW Technology Planning Team (University SSP Action Item).
Lead in establishing a UW Technology Planning Team with broad institutional representation that will establish policies and develop a process to evaluate and prioritize institutional technology projects.
Action Item 27: UW Technology Initiative Process. Support the UW Technology Planning Team by developing a mechanism for colleges and departments to communicate their needs to Information Technology and determine appropriate structure and staffing.
Action Item 28: Technology Strategy. Establish a Department of Technology Strategy within Information Technology consisting of a Director and Business/Research Analysts to work with and support the UW Technology Planning Team, colleges, and departments throughout the technology initiative development and implementation process.
Strategic investing in technology infrastructure can be accomplished by progressively upgrading the institution’s technology facilities based upon a clear set of priorities established after extensive review and input by the campus community. The process would result in more effective planning and consistency in equipment replacement.
Funding has been a barrier to developing a replacement schedule for equipment across the University. Establishing a permanent funding mechanism for replacement of eligible equipment, taking into account reserves for depreciation, would allow incremental replacement of equipment as technologies advance. Implementation of a multi-year plan that would define eligible equipment with institutional funding would effectively address technology needs in the broader context of the institution, as recommended in 2005 by RSM McGladrey, Inc.’s Technology Services Review.
Action Item 29: Funding for Equipment Replacement (University SSP Action
Evaluate, together with the divisions of Budget and Planning, and Administration, establishing a permanent funding mechanism for the institution for the replacement of central technology equipment.
The 2004 RSM McGladrey, Inc. review of campus-wide information technology services identified a need for baseline standards for server administration, maintenance, and backup procedures. The sampling gathered by the consultant found servers that were not administered to the same standards as servers administered centrally by the Division of Information Technology. These servers have the potential to compromise overall network security. Development of a full and accurate inventory of applications, systems, and servers that are not centrally maintained by Information Technology is the first step in determining a server administration policy that will ensure that servers are maintained and secured across campus in a consistent manner.
Action Item 30: Server Administration/Baseline Standards. Information Technology will work with colleges and departments across campus will develop an inventory of servers not maintained centrally. Servers that should be moved to a more secure facility would be identified as would servers for which departmental administration is justified. A server administration policy and baseline standards for the maintenance and security of servers and desktops for which departmental administration is justified will be developed.
New knowledge and technologies are driving forces behind economic development. Engaging private sector partners to leverage resources and encourage technological innovation provides economic growth and opportunities. Working with the Vice President for Research, Information Technology will continue to support the University’s establishment of a technology business incubator that will enable commercial development or the expansion of early stage technology businesses, including those generated in the UW community.
Action Item 31: Wyoming Technology Business Center. Provide appropriate input into the design of the University’s Technology Incubator and implement technologies in the building that will provide for high quality and flexible service delivery.
University departments are increasingly relying on their web presence for communications, information, marketing, and course delivery. While basic functionality is ensured, organizing, publishing, and providing access to the University’s web-based information resources can be improved. Support for site development, content management, and on-line course management is needed to develop a more comprehensive, standardized approach to the University’s web presence.
The World Wide Web offers UW a significant opportunity to reach a large number of people and increase awareness of UW’s offerings. Elements of academic course delivery are increasingly being moved by instructors to the web. Taking full advantage of the web’s potential and responding to these new and evolving demands will require the University to develop greater expertise and provide support to create and maintain an effective web presence.
Action Item 32: Enhance UW’s Web Presence (University SSP Action Item).
Provide, in partnership with UW Public Relations, more applications to users on the University of Wyoming’s centralized web servers and continue to support improved web presence. Collaborate with the Division of Academic Affairs, the Outreach School, ECTL and others to enhance UW’s use of on-line course management software.
There is a growing need for IT to expand its role as an enabler of technology by offering its expertise for evaluating departmental technology initiatives and managing departmental technology projects to groups across campus. Departments may not have the expertise or resources to handle all aspects of a technology initiative from its inception to its implementation. Collaboration between Information Technology and departmental staffs brings additional expertise and resources to technology projects. Positive results of project management include tangible cost savings, user satisfaction, and minimization of unexpected delays.
Action Item 33: Technology Project Management Services. Investigate the feasibility and cost effectiveness of providing enhanced vendor negotiation, project management and application development resources to non-IT departments for academic, research, and administrative projects.
Information Technology has opportunities to continue and expand its partnerships with others to leverage technology investments and ensure that all Wyoming citizens will eventually be able to access the University’s educational networks, resources and services. Through such partnerships, the University of Wyoming has provided greater network speed and connectivity to the Internet than it could have offered alone. Information Technology’s relationships with several major vendors are also critically important to maintain and enhance services.
Action Item 34: External Partnerships. Strengthen external relationships and partnerships with the State of Wyoming and its community colleges, CSU, CU, NCAR, the Front Range GigaPop (BiSON), the Pacific Northwest GigaPop (PNWGP), vendors and others to leverage technology investments and most effectively use institutional resources.
Technology initiatives that make a significant difference are usually costly and difficult to finance, as network technology must be constantly upgraded to keep pace with changes. The growth of data networking over the past few years has significantly increased the cost of maintaining the University’s data network. Over the same period of time, the student long-distance telephone revenues that historically funded the data network have declined to the point of virtual non-existence. Upgrades have been accomplished through annual Plus Budget allocations and shifting other resources. Establishing a permanent mechanism for an ongoing funding source for technology infrastructure is essential to the maintenance and future expansion of the data network, will help create certainty for the future of the University’s network, and will provide guidance for other technology decisions dependent upon infrastructure.
Action Item 35: Network Funding (University SSP Action Item). Seek a permanent funding mechanism for UW’s network infrastructure.
The University has an opportunity to take advantage of its institutional buying power to drive down the unit costs of technology products purchased from vendors. By reducing total technology costs for the institution, centralized purchases of technology products at lower prices could maximize limited University resources. Benefits of centralized computer purchase for departments include lower acquisition cost, reduced time and effort dedicated to purchasing decisions, reduced cost of ownership, and ensured compatibility with existing equipment, operating systems, and applications.
Action Item 36: Technology Acquisition. Investigate the feasibility and cost
effectiveness of centralized desktop computer purchase, standardized replacement
cycles, maintenance and support and provide recommendations to executive
management on potential cost-saving measures.
This plan addresses key initiatives that Information Technology will undertake in the next five years--initiatives that support and enable the University’s academic and administrative functions. First and foremost, IT remains a customer service organization. IT’s primary objective is to provide quality customer service and the computing, communications and network infrastructure to support that customer service.
Over the past five years, the use of technology has become more and more pervasive in UW’s teaching, learning and research environments. Technological innovations are constantly changing the way we learn, teach, research and communicate. As the University’s outreach grows, it is important we broaden our vision to include students, faculty and staff both across and outside of Wyoming. Technology now plays a major role in the social activity of our students residing on campus, and we must recognize that in the services we provide. IT must anticipate and be flexible in meeting the changing needs of our users and of the University, collaborating with others to meet institutional goals.
Technology’s implementation, maintenance, and support are capital and resource intensive. There is no way around it: technology is expensive. Because of the University’s growing need for technology and the increasing expectations of our customers, funding will continue to be one of our most important concerns.
The Division of Information Technology’s major challenges for the next five years are consistent with those of other higher education institutions and similar to the challenges we have faced in the last five years:
- Managing the rapid growth and changes in technology.
- Managing UW's growing dependency on technology and meeting customers’ increasing expectations of capacity, availability, reliability, access and support.
- Having sufficient funding for infrastructure and for current and expanded services and support.