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Our Journey Continues

September 2013


When I joined KU a little over two years ago, you shared with me three things you felt we needed to make KU and KUIT better.  First, you wanted to change the perception of KU IT on campus. Second, you wanted to change our outdated billing model for port charges. Third, you wanted more resources to boost your ability to deliver technology solutions. Most organizations are resistant to change, but you all were pushing for change. That impressed me and reinforced why KU is the place to be.

Over the past two years, we have made significant progress in those three areas. I can assure you that KU IT’s reputation on campus has improved. I talk to campus leaders every day and hear the appreciation and respect they have for the work you do. We are building stronger relationships at all levels and becoming more than just a technology provider. Increasingly, other units see us as a strategic partner who can help them solve problems and achieve their goals.

Regarding the port charges, we have communicated our desire to KU leadership to re-evaluate our financial model to fit more of the solutions we are delivering today. We are continuing to work with KU leadership to implement a new funding model for KU IT and grow our base funding. 

Complicating that challenge, as most of you probably know, the Kansas Legislature reduced higher education funding this year. This required cuts in nearly all areas at KU. Administrative units, including KU IT, were asked to cut their budgets. Increasing our resources at a time when the Legislature is cutting higher education funding is a significant challenge. But, we are still hopeful that through Changing for Excellence and our own initiatives we can identify cost savings and redirect those dollars to support the University’s top priorities. Through these efforts and with implementation of our Cost Allocation model, I think we’ll be able to better support our requests for additional resources.

Bold Aspirations and Changing for Excellence
Most of you have been involved in Bold Aspirations and Changing for Excellence initiatives in some way or another. It should be no surprise that from a project standpoint, these have been our biggest focus over the past two years. I’m extremely proud of the work you have done and all you’ve accomplished. Here are some of our key successes: 
•    MySuccess Early Warning and Appointment Scheduler have both been implemented and turned over to our campus partners. 
•    More than 195 KU websites have been transitioned to the new Content Management System (CMS) and 353 more are in the development process. Matt Garrett and his team have done an exceptional job in building and supporting the CMS.
•    Through Server Centralization and Virtualization, nearly 800 campus servers have been registered and 150 have been centralized or virtualized. 
•    The Financial Aid & Scholarship Office is an early adopter of Scanning and Document Workflow. They have scanned and archived approximately 30,000 files to date, a stack of paper five times higher than the Campanile. This is just one example of the impact departments are seeing through your efforts.  I want to thank Cheryl Harber for all of her support on this project.  
•    We have introduced a new model for technical support, and 10 departments across campus have now been centralized under the Reorganize and Redefine IT Staff initiative. The many positive customer comments I see about Andy Jackson in Strong Hall, and other centralized technical staff, demonstrate how our TSC model is strengthening our organization and our connection with customers. I appreciate Easan Selvan for his leadership in implementing the TSC model.

Many people have contributed to the success of our Bold Aspirations and Changing for Excellence projects, but I want to particularly recognize Stacey Rinnert, Suzie Johannes and Amanda Aveyard-Elo who have been deeply involved in many of these strategic initiatives.

Other Successes
While Bold Aspirations and Changing for Excellence have required much of our time and focus, each of you has contributed to many other projects, as well. The efforts and success of those projects are no less important than the BA and CFE initiatives. I want to also acknowledge some of those other projects that were just as important “wins” in FY2013 and over the past two years. 
•    Because it is important that we operate efficiently and are accountable for results, we have implemented business process improvements (BPIs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) throughout our organization. I appreciate the work of managers in each area for gathering and tracking these KPIs.
•    One of the new ways we are working with our customers as strategic partners is in managing the contract relationships with outside resources. We use this “bench” process when we don’t have the internal resources to support our customer directly on a particular project. Thanks to Matt Garrett for his work on this initiative.
•    We have significantly expanded wireless coverage on campus―both in buildings and outdoors―to meet the needs of our customers who are more mobile than ever. Jim Wilmington has been a key leader in making this project successful.
•    Updating technology in classrooms across campus has given instructors new tools for engaging students in new and innovative ways. This was a big job with the hundreds of classrooms on campus. I want to thank Michael Doll and his team for all of their efforts.
•    Services such as Print from Anywhere and Virtual Lab are giving students the ability to study and work from home, a coffee shop or anywhere they have Internet access. Jake Coffman and his team have done a great job on these projects.
•    Adding more mobility and functionality to key campus solutions, such as Enroll & Pay, Blackboard, KU Portal and others, provides more convenience and a better user experience for our customers. I want to thank George Hosler and Anne Madden Johnson for their leadership on these projects. 
•    The migration from Remedy to ServiceNow for customer service and incident management has improved our ability to support our customers. I appreciate the work Wayne Trowbridge, Greg Harris, Sourabh Batni and others put into making this migration successful. 
•    We continue to see significant process improvements and cost savings from replacing our TMIS billing system with Pinnacle. This was a significant effort requiring many people from various areas to achieve, including Tom Roderick, Kristine Druen, Jenni Weinberg, Bill Bartscher and Greg Harris.
•    We significantly improved convenience and data security by implementing Central File Storage and centralized server hosting, through the efforts of Jake Coffman, Kris Dover, Matt Walker and others.
•    Working in partnership with Research and Graduate Studies, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and others, we upgraded the networks to 10GB in KU’s two largest core science buildings―Malott and Haworth. Thank you to Mark Nace for leading this successful effort.
•    An agreement with the City of Lawrence to develop shared municipal fiber opens a world of opportunities for expanding our networking reach and capacity for research and other university needs. I want to recognize Eric Freeze for his help in getting this agreement completed.

We’ve had many more wins than the ones I’ve highlighted here, and all of you have contributed in some way to our successes. 

Our Vision for Technology at KU
I’ve talked in past IT Staff meetings and other internal meetings about a shared vision for technology at the University of Kansas. I will be meeting with the IT Leadership team in a day-long session to detail that vision, define our strategy and establish a path for moving forward. But let me share a high level picture of what I think are some of the important things for us to be focusing on. I also welcome your input and encourage you to share your ideas by replying to this email. 

As I said earlier, you asked me two years ago how we would change the perception of KU IT on campus. We are doing that by focusing on our customers’ needs and being a strategic partner in helping them achieve their goals. We have made great progress in becoming recognized as a service-centric, customer-focused organization. To continue that progress, we must approach all decisions and direct our efforts with customers in mind. By doing so, customers will increasingly see us not simply as a technology provider, but as a trusted partner who can help them overcome hurdles and solve complex problems. 

Focusing on our customers is guiding our efforts to deliver technology solutions that provide flexibility in how and where they can work and study. Our mission is to break down technological barriers that frustrate our customers and inhibit collaboration and innovation. Our customers are more tech-savvy than ever, and their expectations are higher―driven by a wealth of options in the consumer technology space. It’s no longer enough for us to set our sights on being a leader in educational technology. We must look to industry and the consumer marketplace and transfer the best solutions to our higher education environment. 

I am confident in our ability to be a trusted “go to” partner on the KU campus, and a leading higher education technology organization. We must be an agent of change and innovation in propelling students, faculty, staff and researchers toward their goals. The recently announced changes to our internal organization will help us do this, through better alignment of work teams. I want to thank Vickye Kozlowski for her help in supporting staff during all of these changes.

I really believe we have an exceptional staff. That belief continues to be reinforced through conversations with campus partners and when I see staff members recognized for special honors. For example, Joe Friday and Jami Jones were recently named to the 2013-2014 Staff Fellows program, a university-wide initiative for select staff to engage with KU leadership, learn more about higher education and work collaboratively across campus units. Congratulations to Jami and Joe―I know they’ll represent KU IT well.

All of you have made valuable contributions to KU IT, and there’s not space enough to recognize all of your efforts. I do want to recognize and thank Fran Dunavin and Tanya Rhodd for their full support with everything they do for me. 

I appreciate each of you and all your efforts, and I look forward to many more success in FY2014 and the years to come. 

Thank you,

Bob Lim
Chief Information Officer
University of Kansas



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