August 2018 Update
As we embark on a new academic year, we are pleased to share the following update on our School of Nursing IIT accomplishments as they relate to the recommendations from our External Review completed in May 2015. Below are each of the recommendations followed by our “update” in red font. These accomplishments were the work of many, and we are particularly pleased with the assistance and support we receive from campus ITS.
Although we have accomplished a great deal, we know there is more to tackle to “exceed current and future demands” (First in Nursing Strategic Plan 2018-2022). As a team, we believe in continuous improvement and strive to efficiently and effectively manage the many requests we receive. We value your suggestions and aim to maintain open lines of communication with our SON users. Please continue to reach out to us if you have any needs, concerns or ideas about how we can improve.
Thank you for your input and your support,
The SON IIT Team
Excerpt from External Review – May 2015
Recommendations with respect to current services
I: Revitalize IIT advising
A significant proportion of client comments identified in this review are the result of clients not understanding how policy decisions are made and on what basis, or not knowing what the policies are. Certainly, in some cases, clients would accept these policies if they understood the reasoning behind them. In other cases, clients believe different policy choices would have been made if they had a “seat at the table.”
An effective advisory structure for IIT that fits the culture of the School of Nursing would resolve these issues in the normal course of events. Clients would know who participates in the structure, they can see the agenda in advance and thereby offer their comments and they can see the summaries of decisions, including explanations. Such a give and take through an advisory structure takes real effort on the part of the IT team to organize and provide necessary support, but it pays big dividends in better representation of client needs and clarity on critical decisions. Such an advisory structure places the final determination of critical IT decisions in the hands of the School, appropriately informed by IT advice, removing IT from being “the bad guy” for decisions with which some clients do not agree.
The best structure for an advisory structure generally depends on the local culture. At the SON, it probably should include appropriately representative faculty, students, administrative clients, School leadership and IIT leadership. Ideally, as implied above, the meeting schedule, agenda and summaries should be published so the community can see they are guiding their IT services.
Update: The SON IT Governance Board was formed and began meeting in fall 2016. At the recommendation of our ITS Liaison, Susan Kellogg, the group was on hiatus for one year (AY 2018) due to the SON reorganization. The Board will reconvene in fall 2018.
II: Seek efficiencies in current services
Naturally, given the opportunity to comment, clients will ask for expanded services and they very much did so during this review. While sometimes a mixed blessing, it is the nature of IT services that they evolve quickly and often provide opportunities to improve the efficiency of current services or even obsolete some current services with newer, more robust options. The continuing changes in the Web is an example that most everyone has observed. Clients noted multiple opportunities to improve the efficiency – for both IIT and for clients – of current services, for example, use of remote help tools rather than physical visits for routine computer issues. Multiple other approaches could be evaluated for possible efficiencies, including consistent use of Remedy across IIT or the adoption of UNC licensed collaboration tools to meet some current needs or to offer expanded services.
A variation of this recommendation is migrating a currently provided local service to a centrally offered service such as was done with email. Moving SON servers to VMs is an example of this which is underway. Service reviews should consider such possibilities annually.
Update: In December 2017, SON completed the project to move its servers to Campus VM as follows:
- 9 physical servers and 3 VMs migrated to Campus VM Storage (~4TB)
- 8 server applications migrated away from physical servers
- 12 Microsoft Access Databases migrated/or rewritten in Oracle
- User access audited
- SON OU group policies audited
- Data backup and server maintenance plans created
- Data retention and Disaster Recovery policies updated
- SON System Administrator hired
- Server room decommissioned, end of dehumidifier monitoring
III: Earn a reputation as service oriented in the eyes of clients.
Improve consistency and quality of IT services through standard practices for managing services
Adopt standard practices to manage services, including activity measures, response time measures and client satisfaction measures. Set goals, review key measures monthly and make adjustments as may be needed.
Actively manage to assure that all offered services achieve a consistent baseline of quality.
One area of attention that would be required to meet this need: clients currently perceive quality of service by IIT staff member. IIT as an organization will need to manage services to deliver a consistent quality so that clients will gradually recognize that IIT services are no longer dependent on individual staff (though, of course, in individual situations, staff will continue to make exceptional personal contributions).
Update: Communications and surveys from SON users consistently report above average responses in the last year for classroom, desktop, network access and database support services1. Meetings with SON units to discuss specific technolgy needs were conducted and feasibility studies for automation/improvements have been determined and scheduled.
Improve access to documentation
Documentation (e.g., how-tos, policies, procedures, etc.) appear to be currently posted in a variety of different places and, in some cases, not posted at all. Such information should be inventoried, reviewed for completeness, organized and provided on a web site as is now common industry practice.
Update: SON IIT Team maintains over 300 internal technical support documents to promote standard policies and consistency. The Nursing website was updated to include access to SON applications, how-to documentation, support contact information, and Campus and SON technology announcements.
Adopt life-cycle costing by service
It is next to impossible to plan services without knowing their true costs. True costs must include all costs, including up-front costs and estimates of ongoing costs such as local staffing, maintenance, facility and other costs incurred by the School when delivering a service.
In addition to understanding life-cycle cost by service, many services should develop unit pricing, for example, a clear understanding of the cost to the School of providing a standard machine to a faculty member. Such information helps inform the suggestion to offer a laptop or, when academically appropriate, a “power machine” to faculty. Understanding these unit costs usually makes these choices relatively easy to make and for the community to understand.
Update: Laptops as a desktop replacement has been accepted as a feasible alternative for many users, pending budget approvals. Details will be determined before the next hardware replacement period. SON IIT staff is actively engaged with the Campus ITS review of reporting applications that will produce data required to determine hardware, software and staffing needs
IV: Expand role-appropriate training and development for IIT staff
Staff training and development is critical to maintaining skills in the rapidly changing IT industry. Further, strong training and development opportunities are recognized by prospective staff when considering employment and can help bridge gaps between the highly competitive salaries and benefits available in the RTP area and those offered at UNC.
Of course, such training and development should be relevant to current services or planned service changes. Of particular importance and related to Recommendation III is training on service quality and consistency for both individuals and IIT as a unit.
Update: Beginning in 2016, $12,000 per year have been dedicated for IIT staff training and development. This is in addition to the staff professional development fund IIT staff can apply for several times during the academic year. Recent SON-funded courses completed by IIT staff include networking tools, security workshops, web-services, degree-seeking courses. Also considering a collaborative ITIL training that several campus units have determined to examine.
Recommendations with respect to Strategy and Planning
V: “Bootstrap” an IT Strategic Plan and Execute
Getting started with strategic planning
Continuing current services, developing even an initial strategic plan and undertaking substantial changes will take time to accomplish and also, likely, require some outside help. This Reviewer suggests the School “bootstrap” its approach to planful action with an initial limited term and limited scope effort to introduce IIT and the School to the possibilities and planning process and then circle back and repeat these activities with a broader planning scope and time horizon. It would be a very high bar to ask the current team to manage such a planning effort along with delivering essential current services, so at least the initial effort would likely require outside help.
That said, the School will eventually want to undertake one or a series of challenging planning steps and corresponding change as suggested next.
How an active strategic planning and change activity would interact with the service improvement recommendations noted above would present a challenge to be worked out depending on how much extra help might be available and how urgent the School determines it is to pursue strategic change in relation to service improvements.
Evaluate options to change, adopt an approach and execute
In broad strokes, SON has something like the following three options for approaching planful change:
- Improve current services per Recommendations
Smallest initial step, shortest time line (perhaps a year)
Optimize a set of existing local services, including, e.g., improving documentation, implementing remote help desk, service training for staff and adoption of standard service measures with regular reporting and review to achieve a baseline of consistency and quality across IIT services.
- Decommissioned ParScore /Scantron
- Decommissioned Firefox server
- Decommissioned 90% of SONI
- Addressed over 1000 Remedy tickets
- Restructured and reorder the surplus process
- Streamlined the process of receiving equipment
- Updated the large equipment and software used to maintain large displays throughout the building
- Assisted with the implementation of 6 new Web-based applications including:
- ExamSoft – Seamless transition in a very short time…training, policy dev,
- NurSYS development and associated migrations from Access databases; 11 à2 with a migration plan in place; Student database development
- Storeroom Application development
- Leave Request
- Upgraded ImageNow software which removed a consistent security issue on OSA desktops
- Completed the planning stages of project to replace BlueJean video conferencing with Zoom Campus collaborative opportunity
- Received new Network switches from Campus
- Replacing outdated unsupportable grant project desktops with newer equipment scheduled for surplus
- Streamlined process of obtaining images (photos) for new students
- Removed approx. 85% of older Windows 7 desktops with an improved model
- Implemented DUO and planning more 2-step authentication to reduce phishing/spam risk
- Physically moved to new offices to floor 3 so entire IIT service unit is centrally located
- Windows 10 in all Classrooms and conference rooms and computer labs
- Refreshed EISLE Lab equipment and Student laptops
- Assisted with the testing the configuration for the new EISLE simulation Manikin (Lucina)
- Established backup support for all services/tasks
- Upgraded room 1600
- Adopted SCCM (Campus Tool) to install and push software to desktops
- Improved the data backup / restore process associated with replacing SON desktops
- Requested and received cloud storage to accommodate regular changing needs
- Assisted CLL with developing and presenting several Excel training courses to UNCH Nurses
- 98% of Customer surveys report the highest rating for technical support
2. Renew SONI applications
Major project, medium time line (perhaps two years)Probably in addition to #1, review all aspects of the SONI data bases to do a gap analysis with Connect Carolina (CC). Determine what functions, if any, might be subsumed by good use of CC capabilities. Consider what commercial or software from other schools of nursing might be available to cover gaps. Guard against non-essential new needs creeping it “since we have these applications on the table.” Develop a plan to renew the set of SONI applications – in the best case by eliminating most if not all of them through artful use of CC capabilities and/or commercial or other shared software.
Update: Approximately 90% of SONI has been decommissioned and replace by a variety of applications including NURSYS.
3. Develop a future vision and plan for SON IT and launch
Long term time line (at least three years)Update: IIT is part of the School’s First in Nursing Strategic Plan (2018-2022) Priority to upgrade facilities and integrate technologies to exceed current and future demands. The Strategic Plan Implementation Team for Infrastructure will be working on specific initiatives in fall 2018 and spring 2019.
Update: A newly created Instructional Designer position has been approved and will be posted Fall 2018.
1 Remedy Ticketing Service for desktop and database support. Not enough data collected for AV support.