Decision-Making IT Framework to Guide Priorities
Portfolio Management Office will provide oversight
BY LORI BONA HUNT
U of G is implementing an enhanced decision-making framework to guide its information technology investments and priorities.
What will the new IT governance process mean to most U of G employees? On the surface — nothing. Most people won't notice anything different in their daily work lives in terms of their computers, software, e-mail or telephone service, says chief information officer Mike Ridley. But the IT decision framework really does affect everyone, and in a positive way, he says.
In short, it will help ensure that Guelph's major IT investments and initiatives are the best decisions possible, ranging from making the most efficient choices to ensuring that IT priorities are on track to achieving the University's larger goals, he says.
The framework will also make certain that decisions are co-ordinated and consistent. Previously, IT purchases were informal and fragmented, with units, departments and colleges often doing things differently.
“We're not replacing local decision-making,” says Ridley. “It's more about enabling informed decision-making and putting it in a University-wide context.”
The framework also includes processes for measuring IT's performance and ensuring that users' wants and needs are taken into account.
An integral component is the creation of a Portfolio Management Office (PMO), to be directed by Doug Badger. “This office is really the glue that will keep everything together,” says Ridley.
The PMO's purpose is to co-ordinate the framework and assist those involved. This includes documenting the impact and value of IT decisions, providing oversight to those involved in the decision-making process, and tracking the big picture in terms of current and future projects.
The framework's other major objectives are:
- understanding the value and impact of IT investments;
- ensuring that decisions are transparent and supported;
- identifying and mitigating risks;
- recognizing opportunities for improved IT utilization; and
- establishing and sustaining effective IT policies.
“At its core, the IT decision framework is about decisions and responsibility — clarifying who decides what and how, and who is accountable for what decisions,” says Badger.
The framework includes a new University IT steering committee, which, among other things, will articulate strategic directions for IT systems and services, set expectations for the use of IT, guide funding and evaluations, and make decisions about large-scale investments.
There's also a reconstituted Information Services Council, made up of people from across campus who have IT accountability from academic and administrative areas. This group will recommend, inform and advocate on enterprise IT issues.
“It's really important for the University to make effective IT decisions and investments,” says president Alastair Summerlee. “The new framework is the means to make this happen, and it's critical to ensuring that our IT decisions meet core strategies and priorities.”
Information about the decision framework, IT governance and the PMO office is available online at www.cio.uoguelph.ca.