September 2019 CIO Update
Happy Fall! The leaves are starting to change but the temperature not so much. Hopefully, soon we’ll be a little cooler… For this month’s entry, I’d like to share the initial results of our service review initiative as well as highlight a service enhancement.
Service Review Initiative:
As those of you who work in Technology Services will recall, during the fiscal year 2019, Hannah Steighner met with all TS to conduct a systematic review of all the services we offer. The 2019 service review initiative has been fully completed and final reports are available in the Technology Services Google Share (accessible to all TS full time and hourly staff). Some of the initial outcomes we were able to achieve as a part of this initiative include:
- Increased documentation of TS services which provided a more thorough understanding of abilities, constraints, and dependencies.
- Discussed and documented existing challenges in providing services and started development and road mapping of solutions.
- Documented the primary expenses associated with a service such as software maintenance, hardware costs, personnel resources, etc. so as to get a better grasp on how much our individual services are costing us to deliver to customers.
- Uncovered important information to assist with the upcoming ITSM tool integration.
- Established a strategic communications group to help make communication more consistent and of higher quality.
Some common themes and challenges that came up:
- Resource and Staffing:
- Many staff feel that TS is challenged by limited staffing levels and therefore bandwidth for additional training, documenting of services, identifying and training backups, initiating service improvements and upgrades, and mediating/resolving bugs.
- Planning and Procurement:
- Multiple teams would like to see improvements in planning projects so that we give ourselves enough time to prioritize, staff and resource projects so that they stick to a schedule, and then have proper support once live.
- Multiple units expressed frustration in customers buying what they want without considering or consulting IT, which requires TS to “drop everything” and support it. It was observed that:
- We are sometimes the last to know when things are procured and often do not have a say.
- If we got out in front of purchases and were more involved in discussions, we could prevent bad purchases and be better able to plan/prioritize.
- Communication and relationship management:
- With VCU Health Systems IT (for various units)
- With customer community for tools/applications, we support (hard to stay on top of these relationships when staff changes, etc.)
- With each other in communicating and working together on projects, services, tasks, etc. in productive and timely manners.
These are issues that I and my leadership team continue to work on, and I also have shared this with my management.
In the Technology Services Google Share, there is now a folder that highlights the 2019 Service Review initiative, with a final report document in addition to an internal TS Service Listing which lists and provides information surrounding every service that Technology Services offers and manages. Thank you to everyone for their participation in this initiative, as it has allowed us to properly document and set a baseline for our IT service offerings and document challenges and improvements. We will continue to update these services on an annual basis, so please expect a review to take some time next Spring 2020. I will also be using these reports as I evaluate our organizational structure and the ability to take on new services or change existing ones.
New Laptop Loaner Service
Labs and Classrooms Computing (LCC) has teamed up with the IT Support Center (ITSC) to provide loaner laptops for students. This service replaces the former laptop kiosk system and is only available to students. LCC still offers laptops rentals to departments for special events, and faculty or staff should contact their department for their individual needs.
Located in the ITSC office in Cabell, the loaner laptops may be checked out for a designated duration by students with a valid VCU ID or driver’s license. The ITSC is investigating options for a laptop management system and hopes to have this in place as soon as procurement processes are complete. In addition to inventory and usage tracking, the new system will allow students to check for laptop availability before coming to the ITSC. Details for the new loaner service will soon be posted in the askIT knowledge base.
Currently there 30 laptops for loan, but over 125 new laptops have been approved for purchase using state technology funding. The new laptops are expected to be available for loan by summer 2020.