Campus IT Plan Promises Improved Alignment of IT Organizations
“If you remember nothing else from this presentation, remember three words: alignment, service, and value,” Sam Steinhardt said at a recent University IT (UIT) Town Hall meeting.
Steinhardt, assistant vice president for UIT’s Shared Services, was describing a new, collaborative planning initiative designed to better align the campus IT community with the ultimate goals of improved service, along with increased efficiency and productivity, and better utilization of Stanford resources.
The birth of the Campus IT Plan
This all started early in 2017 when a group of leaders from across campus began to discuss the state of IT at Stanford. While there was consensus that the various IT organizations have become more collaborative over the past several years, they also recognized there were opportunities to align even further. They agreed that through closer alignment, they could provide more value to the community and more effectively support the university’s long term goals, while at the same time improve their stewardship of campus resources.
Soon after, members from the initial group turned this conversation into action by submitting an idea called “IT Transformation at Stanford” to the Long Range Planning Process (LRP).
“We propose a chartered work effort to begin the development of new university-wide approaches to planning, funding, and delivering technology solutions,” IT leaders wrote in their submission.
In the submission, they outlined a vision for:
A nimble university-wide annual planning process to achieve and sustain alignment among distributed and central IT organizations.
A roadmap or plan, revised annually, to close the gaps between the current and desired future state.
A rational, efficiently delivered portfolio of technology services informed by university goals, technological trends, and desired user experience.
An inclusive governance framework that consistently looks multiple years ahead, based on guiding principles agreed-to by the senior leadership of Stanford.
“The process of developing the submission to the LRP process was incredibly valuable and gratifying for all of us, and was, itself, evidence of our IT community’s commitment and ability to work together toward a common goal,” said Steinhardt. “It provided just a glimpse of what we can do when we collaborate effectively.”
Rather than waiting for the LRP process to complete, the IT leaders, with support from the Office of the CIO (OCIO), decided to maintain their momentum and move forward with a planning effort this year. That kicked off in late summer and became known as the Campus IT Plan.
Year one goals and deliverables
Designed to be an annual effort, the goals in the first year are focused on kicking off the initiative, piloting efforts to see what works and what doesn’t, and developing processes to inform future years’ planning work.
“We have a vision for what a university-wide plan for IT could look like,” said Tara Robenalt, Campus IT Plan program director. “Over the coming year, we will begin developing a planning discipline and process for sharing and aligning IT plans.”
The deliverables for this year, set to be released in April, include:
A Campus IT Plan website and plan document that communicate a common vision for IT at Stanford, while also describing the individual plans for each unit.
A planning kit, delivered to representatives from each IT organization, to help them formulate and submit their individual IT plans.
A user research report derived from interviews with faculty, students, and staff members sharing their IT needs.
A documented planning process with lessons learned to drive next year’s plan.
Workshops, workshops, and more workshops
Throughout the autumn quarter, the project team conducted a number of workshops to kickstart the planning efforts. Approximately 80 professionals from over 20 organizations across campus gathered to identify IT themes — which will be featured in the Campus IT Plan website — and brainstorm on planning best practices.
The hard work will continue throughout the winter and spring quarters leading up to the release of the first annual Campus IT Plan.