Reply To: Communication, Collaboration, and Community


Hi Cyndi and Chad,

As always, thank you for your thoughtful input.  You bring up an important topic and, as Greg points out, one that is definitely at the forefront of our efficiency and effectiveness approach – reporting lines.  The formal creation of the ITO positions and having them report to the newly created Director for User Experience and Engagement within an evolving IT organization is a major upfront change here at UNM, and I firmly believe the discussion on this topic is worthy of additional attention.  I am both excited about the direction and sensitive to the concerns of pitfalls we need to avoid. My hope is that the approach we are taking to realize the benefits of this structure make both the excitement to improve and the sensitivity to “do no harm” evident.

Elisha identifies that there are good arguments to be made for both consolidated reporting and distributed administration with better governance, and I agree. What I appreciate most about the consolidated reporting is that it establishes the authority to organize and work together efficiently and effectively as a unified IT team, across all lines, while simultaneously affirming and expanding an IT organization-wide commitment to meet and exceed needs from diverse areas of campus.  While this can be done in other ways, the formal lines give us the best opportunity to leverage the IT talent across UNM in an organized and accountable way to benefit both the individual units and the institution as a whole.  Dean Peceny did a very nice job of articulating his strategy for improving IT services in the College of Arts and Sciences over the last five years and then relaying his vision of the opportunity that the current situation creates.  I think he says it well and I believe our approach is in alignment.  You can see the clip from Dean Peceny at our 10/05/2016 Town Hall (at the 38:00 time stamp).   

As I stated in Town Hall and you reference in your post, a major goal for the ITO will be ensuring that the needs of the area they represent are identified and met.  This will be a goal that the ITO is measured on; however, the shared accountability for achieving this goal goes well beyond the ITO and, when coupled with advisory and governance, permeates through the entire IT organization and to myself as CIO.

You bring up the important point that technology needs around campus vary.  I agree there are unique needs due to the variety of work we do at UNM; we truly are a city within a city.  That being said, we cannot have a cookie cutter approach for all technology services.  We want to take the best of the best, have consistency where it is possible, but also enable flexibility where it is warranted.  We will work through the ITO to understand the needs and determine solutions collaboratively.  In doing so we will seek to leverage existing knowledge, address improvements where needed, and simultaneously work to avoid unnecessary duplication of services where we can. 

Our guiding philosophy in all of this is not to negatively impact the things that are working. Specifically, we will not touch any distributed service until the service can be analyzed and understood. Even then, changes will only be made when opportunities for improvement are identified and approved.  The ITO will be critical in working collaboratively with the area they represent, the staff that report to them, and with other ITOs and IT professionals to identify and assess these service improvement opportunities.  The organizational structure will facilitate this.  While we will not always have 100% agreement on direction, we will absolutely have a well-vetted assessment with informing input from the people delivering and using the services today so that our advisory and governance groups can make educated decisions where needed.   We would expect greater alignment between centralized efforts and departmental needs than we have seen in the past by virtue of better governance and more formal yet collaborative approaches between Central IT Directors, ITOs and functional stakeholders in the schools, colleges and administrative areas.
As we meet with folks around campus, we are fortunate to be identifying common ground very early on with a number of campus leaders and technology managers who share a vision for how we can improve IT efficiency and effectiveness.  Their support is allowing us to identify our initial ITOs in a way that is representative of campus and helpful in laying a solid foundation that we can build on. All areas of campus may not be ready to identify an IT officer immediately, and that is okay.  We have designed our onboarding of ITOs in a staggered approach that will allow for some areas to onboard later in the fiscal year when more foundational work has been completed and there are less unknowns and more defined answers to the questions you raise. 
Finally, you mention funding.  The funding committee will be tasked with looking at how to fund IT services on campus in a more thoughtful way.  While they will look to fund the core from our existing resources and minimize the related fee-for-service, they will also have to give consideration to funding the unique needs of specific areas where cost sharing across the institution may not make sense. I suspect the model for funding those emerging needs will look much like it does today.  For shared services, I would expect that we will come to the table through Advisory together to seek funding.  For truly unique needs, I would suspect that the Dean or VP may identify the funding source or they may request funding from a higher level in the organization.  Regardless, these activities will be coordinated in an aligned way to target needs and outcomes and avoid duplication.
I tried to thoughtfully cover all the key topics you have raised.  Please let me know if I’ve missed any.  I appreciate the opportunity to discuss these important issues with you and welcome additional feedback from you and others.