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IT Services Portfolio Review - January 2015 Update

Introduction

The IT Services Portfolio Review was started in early 2014 with the aim of making sure that our IT services are properly aligned with the needs of the University, that there is an open and transparent cost model for our services, and that our services are affordable and adequately funded.  In the course of this review we engaged with 150 staff from across the collegiate University to understand their needs and to seek their feedback on our services, as well as using existing sources of information, such as the DIGE report and Student Survey.

We also asked IT Services’ managers to identify beneficial changes and areas where we could push for greater cost-efficiency. We presented a full cost/budget analysis, feedback from stakeholders, and a list of change proposals, in varying degrees of development and maturity, to a special meeting of IT Committee in September 2014 for their approval and prioritisation.  This paper reports on progress to date.

Progress to date

The IT Committee has endorsed the initiation of a Service Transformation Programme to manage the implementation of the approved proposals, to ensure that they are adequately coordinated and joined-up, and from which regular progress reports will be produced.

The proposals themselves are a range of service improvements, new service offerings and a reduction in, or elimination of, some services. They vary in scale and impact and the following are a representative selection:

  • We have been asked to provide a local IT support service for academic departments and colleges that wish to opt-in
  • We are also looking at the feasibility of providing the University with a managed print service
  • In partnership with Estates we are introducing a strategy/design service for audio visual equipment in buildings
  • Adding to our existing service we will be looking at how we can manage devices and desktops in future, for those parts of the University that need this support
  • We are going to extend our IT service desk support window and in due course we will confirm what support will be available during opening hours
  • In 2015 we will review the range, content and method of delivery of the courses in the IT Learning Programme
  • We have already simplified the way we provide support to researchers and associated software development
  • We will engage with an external partner to help us perform software asset management
  • In future we will reduce the support available for MS Access databases

Some of the proposals will result in direct cost savings in our operational budget, which will help us manage budgetary pressures at a time when the whole University is feeling the pinch. Some will require capital investment in order to move them forward, while many of the new services will be offered on a cost-recoverable basis. Some may even mean a rise in operational costs, although we are trying to avoid this if possible. Since September there has been progress in developing the proposals further and bringing them together into a work plan, with an IT Services Director assigned responsibility to each one.

Value IT

As part of this process we have completed a second year of Value IT which is aimed at fully analysing the cost of all of our services. This work has been invaluable in allowing us to examine our cost base, and identify opportunities for cost-efficiencies or different charging models. We also aim to continue to use it to benchmark some of our services against appropriate peer groups external to the University to ensure we are providing great value for money.

How stakeholders view us

A useful insight we have gained from the discussions with stakeholders has been to see ourselves through their eyes. In general, there is a lot of goodwill and enthusiasm for the work we do. While we clearly have improvements to make, it seems that we are a trusted and credible department, seen to be adding value to the work of the University. However, we mustn’t be complacent and there is much to do to modernise our systems and for us to remain relevant and effective in a fast-changing world. The diagram shown below shows how our services are viewed in categories that are meaningful to stakeholders.

Service category names that are meaningful to our end users

In addition, the role that we are expected to play in the University was evident in the feedback. We are not only seen as a natural provider of basic IT services (networks, desktops, data storage etc), but also expected to show leadership in recommending the use of technology for teaching, research and administration. Many stakeholders are looking to IT Services to show more leadership - “you’re the experts – tell us what we should be doing” – although this was tempered with a recognition that IT Services cannot do everything. Activities like pioneering, transforming and innovating in IT are seen as important, but we must get the basics right too.

No one questioned the existence of a central IT Services group which we feel shows the merger has been a success. In general people (end users) don’t care who is providing their IT they just need it to work and know where to get help and advice. There is also a growing recognition that IT is so complex and wide reaching, that a few people in a local setting cannot have the same range and depth of technical knowledge as a central department. People also wanted to see more clarity on costs - especially around what services are offered as standard, and what incurs an additional charge.

The way we work

Part of the feedback we received from the stakeholder consultations concerned the way IT Services works and the culture of the department. This feedback will inform our current and future change plans and feed directly into our staff training and development programme. For example we are working with the Oxford Learning Institute to scope a leadership program for our middle managers, and are carrying out training sessions for managers on managing staff performance and development. We are also enhancing the skills of some of our managers in contract development and supplier relationship management.

Next steps

The next stage of this work is to deliver those proposals that are straightforward, and have no other dependencies. Some of the more complicated ones will require capital and may be delivered as projects, funded from the capital programme. In fact some of the proposals were built into our strategy and are already being taken forward through the capital plan. We will report on the progress of all of this work at regular intervals.

We would like to thank everyone who took part and for all of the great feedback and ideas that have been generated. Please feel free to continue to send your thoughts and suggestions through, using the contact details shown on this page. As this work progresses there will no doubt be questions about what our future services might consist of and how they may be delivered. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

Contact us

For more information contact communications@it.ox.ac.uk.