2022 Year in Review
I’d like to thank you all for the warm welcome to U of G. While I continue to learn about all that you do, this impressive collection of accomplishments gives me a great perspective on not just the scope and depth of work within the IT community, but also of the character of the people performing it. Woven into each section are the intent, the impact and the work ethic practiced by this community.
The IT incident in the fall of 2022 is particularly noteworthy because you all were once again called upon, and once again you went above and beyond, under very stressful conditions, to restore impacted services and prevent further disruption. I know that Dave Whittle and the entire University leadership team remain grateful for your efforts, and I share that gratitude.
I hope you can take pride in all that you accomplished in 2022 – both the work itself and the manner in which you performed it. The University of Guelph is lucky to have such a dedicated team of IT professionals supporting its mission.
Recovering from the IT incident experienced in September was an all-hands-on-deck effort. As a community, we were able to swiftly implement important security measures that would have normally taken months or even years to roll out. This was made possible because of the great support and collective effort from all IT community members, and the patience and resilience of our students, staff and faculty who quickly adapted to ongoing technology changes.
Service Recovery Efforts
In response to the service disruption, CCS and IT teams across the University continue to harden systems, strengthen account security, update endpoint security, and improve our monitoring and detection capabilities.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) ) Implementation
MFA is a best-practice security measure that provides an extra layer of protection for online services. To further protect University accounts, MFA was implemented to all students, faculty and staff in phased approaches during the fall semester.
New Single Sign-on Process
To expand the use of MFA to additional University services, teams also worked toward a new Single Sign-on process to be put in place early 2023. This new process will further protect University accounts and services.
Enhancing Websites for Improved Reporting and Recruitment
CCS partnered with Communications & Marketing to launch new webpage content using our next generation website platform. Together we launched U of G’s Economic Impact Report in early spring, and then partnered with Admission Services and each college/academic unit to launch U of G’s first-ever collection of centralized and standardized Academic Program and Major pages for a modern, consistent and streamlined student recruitment experience.
Streamlining Multiple Student Housing Processes
Student Housing has digitized multiple services and processes, offering an improved user experience for students and staff. These include:
- Online Applications Forms: The team continued to move more of their request forms online, making requests accessible 24 hours/day and managing these requests through one comprehensive online system.
- Microsoft Bookings and Microsoft Forms: Leveraging these built-in Microsoft tools, they have generated a simplified process to evaluate more than 300 student employment positions, using Bookings to schedule interviews and Forms for candidate evaluations.
- Automation Tools: Through the generation of online scripts, they have streamlined staff efforts related to repetitive tasks, including uploading daily bank deposits to their online housing management software and auto-cancelling outdated Family Housing applications.
Teams Meeting Room Pilot
A partnership between CCS, Ontario Veterinary College, Open Learning & Education Support (OpenEd) and Microsoft resulted in a completed pilot design for five Teams meeting rooms. Through the integration of cameras, audio systems and digital whiteboards, the goal is to elevate the use of meeting and collaboration spaces, offering a seamless meeting experience for both in-person and remote attendees in on-campus meeting spaces.
Digital Transformation and Innovation
U of G welcomed Chief Architect, Giri Satyanarayana, to CCS in May. Giri will lead the University-wide digital transformation and provide the appropriate governance, oversight and strategic vision required for success. He is also currently building U of G’s first Cloud Centre of Excellence. For more information, visit the Digital Transformation and Innovation website.
CCS Enterprise Applications Migration to Azure DevOps Cloud
The CCS Enterprise Applications team completed the migration to Azure DevOps Cloud for development and deployment activities, allowing for the decommissioning of the previous on-premise server.
College of Arts Establishes the Arts Research Centre
The MacKinnon multi-purpose construction project involved several IT components, including the development and integration of systems for data processing, communications and security. The project included the installation and maintenance of digital signage, the provision of IT services and audio-visual components in classrooms, lecture theatres, music rooms and performance theatres. This project was successfully completed as a result of collaborative efforts from the College of Arts (COA), Physical Resources, Classroom Technical Support (CTS), CCS and external vendors.
CSAHS Supports Establishment of The Maplewood Clinic
The Maplewoods Centre for Family Therapy and Child Psychology is a clinic and training centre that provides a wide range of clinical therapy services conducted by graduate students and regulated health care professionals. The College of Social and Applied Sciences (CSAHS) IT team played a fundamental role in providing technological support including the implementation of video conferencing, a video recording system and teaching spaces.
Expanding IT Shared Services
Building strong IT relationships and sharing resources has been a goal within the IT community. This year has seen some great progress in IT shared services:
- U of G welcomed Rome Khamkeuang as the Senior Manager of Information Shared Services for the College of Biological Sciences and College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. This dual role is responsible for the planning, development and maintenance of the IT services within these colleges to ensure they remain aligned with the University goals and priorities.
- The Ridgetown IT team has joined forces with the IT team from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC). Both units, along with COA IT, are now managed by the Senior Manager of IT Shared Services for COA/OAC. This partnership and shared model will allow for more efficient teamwork and shared resources.
Finance System Enhancements
The CCS Enterprise Applications team supported U of G Financial Services/Treasury Operations with two important projects this year:
- Electronic Revenue Remittance Vouchers (eRRV): The eRRV system was launched in late 2021 with continuous improvements over 2022. This solution enables departments to electronically submit RRVs directly to Treasury Operations and into Oracle E-Business Suite for streamlined processing, improved controls and smooth integration with other financial systems. RRVs can now be electronically submitted, validated and reviewed while simultaneously reducing manual data entries.
- Payments Portal: With the upcoming launch of a Payments Portal that integrates with Moneris Payments, departments across the University will be able to easily leverage the power of online payments via Moneris, a trusted payment solution provider. This will enable Treasury Operations to provide a centralized, online payments solution, with simplified reconciliation and eventual integrations with other financial systems.
FootPrints for Ridgetown Campus
In partnership with CCS and the IT team at Ridgetown, a new FootPrints workspace has been put in place for the Ridgetown campus. This new system will further improve customer service and the quality of support received for Ridgetown clients.
Avoiding Microsoft Licensing Cost Increases
This year Microsoft made changes to their Microsoft 365 licensing model, which introduced significant new costs for U of G. To reduce this financial impact, CCS partnered with Physical Resources, Hospitality Services, Human Resources and U of G Retiree’s Association to change the types of licenses used for certain staff and retirees. While this was a cumbersome process for impacted users, this adjustment will save U of G approximately $280,000 annually in new licensing costs.
Migration of Central File Service to Cohesity
CCS worked closely with University clients to migrate the Central File Service to a new modernized storage platform called Cohesity. Cohesity allows significant performance and backup improvements for our information and systems compared with the legacy NetApp platform. This project included the implementation of a distributed file system which will ease similar migrations in the future.
IT Support for the New Home of Cybersecurity Master’s Program
U of G recently opened a new state-of-the-art research and teaching space for the Master of Cybersecurity and Threat Intelligence graduate program, which required significant IT support during the building phase. The newly renovated space of more than 4,000 square feet consists of a large classroom, four meeting rooms, office space and a cyber security lab to support PhD students. From an IT perspective, Physical Resources, the School of Computer Science, CCS and CTS were instrumental in supporting the renovations by providing expertise in project management, space design, security, networking and audio-visual setup to get this space ready for student learning and teaching.
Qualtrics Survey Tool Renewed for U of G
CCS collaborated with Purchasing Services and the library’s Research & Scholarship team to evaluate the marketplace for data collection and survey tools, ultimately renewing U of G’s partnership with Qualtrics for their CoreXM Survey product. As a result, the U of G community will continue to benefit from Qualtrics’ easy-to-use and full-featured platform for years to come. To learn more, visit the Data Collection and Surveys section of the library website.
CSAHS and Lang Faculty Device Subsidy Program
The Faculty Device Subsidy program has expanded to support the purchase of faculty laptops/desktops in CSAHS and the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics. The program offers $1,000 subsidy every three years to each faculty member for the purchase of computing equipment. CSAHS and Lang IT Shared Services manage the purchasing, configuration and support of the devices. This program enables flexibility and savings for faculty, leverages economies of scale for the University and allows IT staff to provide consistent and meaningful computing support to faculty.
The IT Governance Council (ITGC) is the main governing body responsible for prioritization of the University’s strategic IT initiatives. Below we describe progress made on ITGC-approved projects this year.
Faculty eCV Launch
Faculty & Staff Relations (FASR) launched U of G’s new eCV solution, UNIWeb by Proximify, a more intuitive, user-friendly tool providing academics with a CV that is completely compatible with the Canadian Common CV. UNIWeb also provides an optional platform for research networking across the University. This project went live in 2022 with support from Institutional Research & Planning (IRP) and CCS.
Human Resources Management System (HRMS)
The multi-year, highly-anticipated HRMS project reached many milestones this year, as the team works towards phase one of the project going live in spring 2023. These included:
- Completing the first full employee base data migration
- First views of end-to-end system capabilities as a result of system integration testing and user acceptance testing
- Organizational change management activities including the creation of a Change Champion network to create awareness and ease the transition across the University.
For more information, please visit the Human Resources Management System Project website.
Institutional Data Strategy
This past year saw great progress for the Data Strategy:
- The creation of a new community of practice for the University data and reporting community, led by the Data Strategy and Data Reporting team, which has resulted in learning best practices in institutional data reporting for users that are being onboarded to Tableau.
- Continued development of analytics; more than 600 visualizations and reports have now been shared using Tableau and the Data Insights portal continues to grow.
- Data governance activities have resulted in progress in policy, training, reference data set management and the development of a data strategy guidelines matrix.
- Data architecture progress included the configuration of an Azure Synapse environment for cloud analytic services.
- Using Tableau, the team also implemented the popular wastewater surveillance dashboard in partnership with Environmental Health and Safety and Dr. Lawrence Goodridge and his team.
- The team also supported FASR in the successful implementation of the new UNIWeb application for the new Faculty eCV system, developing and enabling best practices around data in systems setups.
For more information, please visit the Institutional Data Strategy website.
Research Administration and Information Management (RAIM) System
In July, the Research Services Office (RSO) issued a request for information in preparation for an enterprise research administration system. This system will improve business processes and automate manual workflows for the management of research proposal submissions, research awards and contracts, animal care services, human ethics, biohazards, radiation safety and conflicts of interest. The full project has been approved by the IT Governance Council and will roll out module by module. In addition, the RSO has issued a request for proposal for the human ethics module of the research information system. This module will increase efficiency within the ethics approval process and will alleviate administrative burden for researchers and administrators. The successful proponent will be announced in early 2023.
Student Information Systems (SIS) Refresh
The SIS Refresh is an initiative to help advance institutional goals around strategic enrolment management and the student experience. Several impactful projects have been completed under the SIS Refresh program this year.
- User Experience Improvements to WebAdvisor: The SIS team launched additional webpages for faculty and students using a modern interface, redesigned the landing page to streamline information and navigation, and implemented Single Sign-on to provide an improved user experience.
- Launch of Curriculum Inventory Management (CIM): The CIM system launched in June 2022 and is being actively used by the U of G community to support the proposals and approvals of course and program changes.
- Digital Offers of Admission: Admission Services, in collaboration with the CCS Enterprise Applications team, modernized the way offer letters are produced and distributed. Offers are now being distributed via email rather than physical mail to improve efficiencies and cost savings.
For more information, please visit the Student Information Systems Refresh website.
SAP Concur Expense System
The implementation of the Expense Claim System replacement, SAP Concur, continues to progress, with the following achieved this year:
- Multiple focus group sessions with the extended project team to discuss system design and process flows
- Kick-off of SAP Concur user testing with testers from multiple departments across the University
- Completion of system configuration and platform design.
The launch of SAP Concur is planned for early 2023. For more information, please visit the SAP Concur Expense System website.
Student Feedback Questionnaire
The Student Feedback Questionnaire project was completed in the fall semester. Blue from Explorance has replaced the legacy CEVAL system in the student evaluation of courses and instructors. To learn more visit https://support.opened.uoguelph.ca/instructors/sfq/menu
Gradescope, a new educational technology at U of G and the University of Guelph-Humber, has replaced the previous Test Scoring application and Scantron technology. This new technology offers up-to-date assignment design opportunities for both online and in-person formats and provides assessment features that can increase grading efficiency and consistency and deliver extensive feedback to students. To learn more information about the Test Scoring project, visit https://support.opened.uoguelph.ca/instructors/gradescope/menu
Thank you again for this important work and for all that you do to make U of G a world class University!
Jeff Grieve, Interim Chief Information Officer