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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the questions we are receiving most frequently about UChicago IT. These FAQs will be updated often as we have new information and as we receive your feedback. If your question is not answered below, please submit one on this site or send an email to it@uchicago.edu. A member of the team will respond to you directly.

IT Rationalization Frequently Asked Questions

What is an IT Rationalization program?

IT Rationalization is a university-wide set of initiatives with an aim to improve IT-focused services across campus, to reduce redundancy, and to reduce operational costs. The reduction of redundant activities will promote better utilization of IT related staff to focus on more mission critical activities.

How is IT Rationalization different from Shared Services?

IT Rationalization focuses on a series of transformational IT projects campus-wide. In many ways, IT is currently a shared service at the University. When we originally started talking with campus IT leaders we found a handful of large scale projects that could minimize redundancy, create efficiencies, and greatly improve service delivery. Through these conversations we decided to focus our collective energy on a number of these opportunities through the IT Rationalization program.

What does IT Rationalization mean for University of Chicago?

Over time, units (centralized, academic, and administrative) have duplicated the delivery of routine IT services.  This creates inconsistencies and redundancies across campus. The primary goal in contemplating and designing an IT Rationalization initiative for UChicago is to provide high-quality IT service to the University, minimize redundancy where appropriate, and enhance the research, teaching, and learning infrastructure.

What are the areas of focus under the IT Rationalization?

IT Rationalization is a program, or a collection of projects. Within this effort we are focusing on seven core areas to potentially address. These areas are:

  • Data center consolidation
  • Enhanced end user support
  • Consolidated help desk functions
  • Classroom and A/V standards
  • Virtualization and cloud compute
  • Common storage and backup
  • Common email and collaboration tools
Who is involved in this initiative?

At this early stage, the IT Rationalization initiative is being overseen by the Board of Computing Activities and Services (BCAS), the Provost’s IT Committee, the Shared Services Advisory Committee, and Campus IT Leaders. The Advisory Committee, designed primarily for the Shared Services initiative, is sponsored by Provost Daniel Diermeier and CFO Rowan Miranda made up of deans, department chairs, vice presidents, faculty, and staff from across campus.

Cole Camplese, AVP for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, provides day-to-day leadership as Executive Sponsor with Chris Riedel serving as the Project Director and Rob Speer acting as Project Manager.

Faculty and staff will be invited to provide input to the areas of focus beginning in late 2016 and continuing through the spring of 2017.

Why did UChicago decide to consider an IT Rationalization initiative?

In conversations with IT Leaders from across campus, it became clear that many of them felt burdened with running duplicative systems that take time away from their local mission of supporting faculty, staff, and students. Service levels are uneven and confusing in many areas of campus, with responsibilities being shared across multiple organizations. We felt it was critical to better understand our campus-wide environment from an IT perspective and look at developing structured projects to address areas that are appropriate for reshaping.

Furthermore, under the larger umbrella of IT at UChicago, we will be able to provide career paths, with new opportunities for promotion and development of technical and leadership skills.

What process will we follow to validate our seven areas of focus?

The IT Rationalization has four distinct phases.

The data collection phase will last approximately 10 weeks and will focus on pulling together financial, human resource, and technology infrastructure data from across the campus. The goal of data collection is to gather as much information as possible with which to complete the current state assessment.

The current state assessment will use data collected to help us understand how IT is being leveraged at the University. In this phase we will ask things like:

  • What tools, infrastructure, and services are we using?
  • What are the resource implications for the services we provide?
  • Where are there areas of duplication?
  • Where are there areas of waste?
  • What are the opportunities for new and/or improved services?

The future state recommendation phase is where we will use the data gathered and the insights gained to build a plan for the future. This is where we will:

  • Define the opportunities for efficiency
  • Prioritize the areas for improvement based on the value of those improvements provide
  • Articulate projects that will strengthen and enhance IT at UChicago

Once the data has been collected, analyzed, and a future state vision defined, business cases will be developed outlining benefits of recommended improvements, consolidation, and other identified opportunities. Those recommendations approved by the advisory committee will be further outlined in an IT Rationalization roadmap, aligning implementation timelines with resources availability and other competing priorities.

What is the timeline for the IT Rationalization effort?

The IT Rationalization effort began with the data collection phase during the first week of August 2016. Currently IT Services is gathering required data internally to help validate the questions we will ask the broader community. Starting in September the other in-scope organizations across campus will provide similar data related to IT utilization, financial investment, and operations. During subsequent months that data will be normalized and analyzed to help validate the seven areas of focus. During December, business cases for each of the seven areas will be created to clearly outline the potential service improvements, savings, and work needed to complete them. Projects will then be prioritized and executed according to timelines established in each of the areas of focus. The timeline can also be found on the ITR page of this website.

This website will be updated regularly to provide additional information and project updates.

Which units at the University of Chicago are in scope for IT Rationalization?

All administrative units, academic units, professional schools, and divisions will participate in the data collection phase of the program. Most will have direct engagement via the IT Leadership Council. A list of all of the in-scope academic and administrative units can be found on the IT Rationalization page of this website.

Will I lose all local support?

The primary goal for this effort is identify and design the best approach for delivering service. In some cases that will mean that service and support must remain local, in other situations, we may be able to better serve the community and provide greater value through a different model. The design for improving service delivery and support will be developed over time through a collaborative process with IT leaders across campus to incorporate multiple points of view. With that said, we fully believe there will still be local support.

Support and service delivery will be coordinated between the unit and IT Services. For example, a local unit may elect to adopt the IT Services helpdesk capabilities. Under that scenario, first contact with support would be the central helpdesk. If a more complex level of support is needed, the local IT professional would be notified. In other scenarios, local units may not provide a given service at all. An example of this would be unit adoption of central email and calendaring. In that scenario, the local unit would no longer need to manage a separate email environment, freeing them to focus on more unit-specific service delivery.

How do I contribute to the project, how does my voice get heard?

Throughout the fall quarter, campus engagement will continue to expand. We will be holding forums during each of the phases of the program to promote a broader conversation.

This website is designed to provide information and a way to share thoughts and to ask questions. We are still in the data collection phase and have yet to make decisions about how we might implement all seven of our areas of focus. Some work is progressing; for example IT Services is currently working to upgrade campus email and collaboration with a move to Microsoft’s Office 365 platform. This environment is being designed to provide campus with a consolidated email and collaboration platform.

In the months ahead, IT leaders from across the campus will be invited to form the IT Leadership Council, which will ultimately work to guide our efforts going forward.  Additionally, members of this council will be charged to provide communication updates to local units and to seek feedback.

Who do I contact with questions or suggestions?

UChicago leadership is committed to remaining inclusive and transparent throughout this process. The IT @ UChicago website will be constantly updated with resources, progress reports, and an expanding set of frequently asked questions and answers.

Questions, concerns, and suggestions can be submitted directly through the Contact Us page at this site or via email at it@uchicago.edu. Individualized and timely responses will be provided to all inquiries made on the IT @ UChicago website.

IT Leadership Council Frequently Asked Questions

What is the IT Leadership Council?

The Information Technology Leadership Council (ITLC) charge will be to ensure information technology (IT) goals and strategic plans support those of the University. ITLC fosters collaboration, and facilitates delivery of services that meet the academic and administrative needs of the University. The ITLC provides a forum for UChicago IT leaders to plan and collaborate on initiatives to implement policies, improve services, develop the workforce, and improve governance practices. The ITLC maintains connections to IT governance bodies to ensure its practices are aligned with and responsive to the needs of the research, instruction, and administrative communities.

When was the IT Leadership Council be formed?

The IT Leadership Council was formed in the Winter Quarter of 2017. The first meeting was held during the Summer of 2017.

Who are the members of the IT Leadership Council

All individuals with primary leadership responsibility for information technology in an academic or administrative unit are eligible to be a member of the ITLC. Membership is limited to one representative per unit with the exception of IT Services, whose membership will include the senior leadership group of the associate vice president for information technology and CIO. To see a current list of members, please visit the ITLC page.

How is the IT Leadership Council be governed?

ITLC is governed by a Board of Directors that are elected by the Members. Eight ITLC appointed Members shall be elected by the Members to serve on the Board with an additional standing member. The Board will consist of the following representatives who will be elected to a two year term:

  • Three representatives Divisions
  • Two representatives from Schools
  • Three academic support or administrative unit representatives
  • In addition to the elected Board, there will be a sole standing member in the form of the associate vice president for information technology and CIO will serve as a voting member of the ITLC. A designate of the associate vice president for information technology and CIO may participate in lieu of the associate vice president for information technology and CIO. In any case, these individuals may cast only one vote in decisions being made by the Board.
How often does the IT Leadership Council meet?

Meetings will be conducted on a monthly basis, with no more than 10 meetings in a given calendar year. On special occasions, the IT Leadership Council may be called to meet.

Can I review the ITLC charter?

The charter for the ITLC will be available on the IT Leadership Council page.

IT Academy Frequently Asked Questions

What is the IT Academy?

The IT Academy is a professional development program specifically designed for IT staff at UChicago.

Why create an IT Academy?

As a world-class institution it is critical to develop a world-class IT staff. The IT Academy endeavors to create a curriculum that will be designed to not only grow specific IT skills, but to develop more well-rounded professionals that understand the need to collaborate, manage teams, and be leaders in the organization. The IT Academy will provide learning opportunities in structured and consistent fashion that will provide staff with deeper skills and knowledge as well as pathways to career growth.

How will the curriculum be designed?

The curriculum will be designed by a working group formed by members of the IT Leadership Council.

What evidence will I have that I have completed courses in the IT Academy?

The IT Academy will be supported by the acquisition of badges. The badges can be included in your LinkedIn profile, added to your Credly profile, and embedded in personal websites. A consistent set of badges will be awarded across the curriculum.

When will courses be offered?

Courses will begin being offered in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Who will be eligible for courses?

All UChicago full time IT staff will be eligible for courses.

 

What will IT Academy courses cost?

Our goal is to make the majority of courses free, while some may carry modest fees.

IT Events Frequently Asked Questions

Why focus on IT Events?

Opportunities to engage with colleagues is essential in the IT ranks. As a community of IT professionals we must work together to structure events that can enrich our understanding and build our skills. A focus on creating new IT Events and more broadly exposing current IT Events will be a central focus of the IT @ UChicago initiative.

 

Who will organize IT Events

Many events will be organized by sub groups within the IT Leadership Council, while others may be organized by individuals or groups on an event by event basis.

 

What types of events should we expect to see?

Our primary goal is the creation of an annual IT specific event that will be open to all members of the IT @ UChicago community. This signature event will focus on the work we all do to support our institution. Additional events are being planned, an annual celebration of teaching and learning, a series of talks with senior administrators exposing the importance of IT campus-wide, and more. Events as small as brown bags and lunch and learns will be listed on the IT Events page of this site.

Will all IT events be at no cost to units and individuals?
We would like to make all events no cost, but that may not be the case for all of them. We will evaluate on an event, by event basis. If there are costs to the community the goal is to make them reasonable.

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