IT Strategic Plan 2013-2018
The implementation of this Strategic Plan will prepare the collegiate University to achieve the maximum benefit from information technology innovations, increasing research capability, enhancing teaching and learning, and delivering efficiencies in support of administrative functions. It will play an important role in supporting the recruitment and retention of world-class students, researchers, academics and IT staff, while providing the foundation for the global sharing of research and teaching resources.
It puts in place infrastructure to enable all staff and students to communicate effectively, share information securely, and collaborate locally and globally. Collaboration and partnership are central to the strategy, because they will enable the development of a stronger IT organisation that supports delivery of services end-to-end, and is able to respond effectively to the evolving technology landscape. They are also key to increasing engagement with staff and students to ensure that services meet their needs; and to partnering with third parties both in the delivery of services and in the integration of IT beyond the perimeters of the University.
Through an emphasis on IT service excellence, the Strategic Plan establishes a framework to drive improved project and service delivery. The recent past has seen new central information systems and the next five years focuses on getting the best value we can from those systems, increasing benefits through improving information quality and accessibility, which will enable better decision making.
With a continuing focus on training and best practice dissemination the Strategic Plan aims to empower teachers and researchers to innovate, staff to use IT systems effectively, and students to improve their digital literacy for discovering, evaluating, and creating information using digital technologies.
These features combine to result in an improved student and academic digital experience in an internationally leading University.
The Plan was reviewed in September 2015. Many of the activities were amended in response to changes in technology and user behavior and expectation; several were combined to bring similar or related activities together to produce a coherent and joined-up programme of work. The review also reprioritised many of the activities to address the changes noted above.
Increasingly, research challenges are tackled by interdisciplinary teams, often distributed across institutions or countries. Simulation, frequently described as in silico experimentation, and data analysis are tools used increasingly by researchers. The data being analysed might be social information, ancient texts, or images or data from sensors; they might also be sensitive or involve intellectual property rights that make security and privacy important. Systems supporting research need to be intuitive to reduce the learning curve and allow easy adoption.
- To enhance the IT infrastructure to support research at the highest level, including collaborative tools and training in information systems research methods.
- To provide the infrastructure and tools to allow researchers to be compliant with regulatory requirements to preserve and share electronic research outputs.
- 1.1. Develop a coordinated approach in order to provide infrastructure support that addresses the requirements of large-scale secure research data storage and analysis, including preservation and discovery.
- 1.2. Provide appropriate infrastructure, tools and training to underpin the full cycle of research data, including discovery, computation, and curation.
- 1.3. Provide advice and support for the open agenda, including publishing of research outputs, and issues relating to open source software.
- 1.4. Provide high-quality IT training that supports researchers in the use of new technologies, software systems and digital assets, and communication methods.
- 1.5. Provide robust security services and related training to support research projects.
- 1.6. Improve administrative systems to support researchers in efficient and effective management of research grants and related resources.
- 1.7. Continue to collaborate with local and regional partners to further develop research computing facilities and e-Infrastructure capability.
- 1.8. Engage with researchers through mechanisms such as special interest groups and user forums.
- 1.9. Develop and support collaborative tools that enhance global and interdisciplinary research, public engagement and knowledge exchange.
Technology to support teaching and learning is now well embedded in the higher education landscape. Within Oxford, digital technologies play an important role in the planning and communication of teaching materials for lectures and tutorials, in supporting learning activities (for example, through simulations) and in detecting plagiarism. In addition, open educational resources and open platforms are providing a way to share digital materials that can be used, reused, and repurposed for teaching, learning, and research.
- To develop the infrastructure and capabilities to support the digital education strategy
- To facilitate the exploration, development, and adoption of new teaching tools and technologies that enhance Oxford's teaching practices.
- To support the development of globally available teaching resources and collections.
- To ensure that – in all their IT-related activities – the best Oxford experience is the typical experience for all undergraduate and postgraduate students. Through access to the latest IT tools and effective IT training, graduates will be fully equipped to compete for the best of the diverse range of opportunities for study and employment available to them.
- To ensure that the University adopts best practice in interacting and communicating with its students in the digital medium throughout the entire academic lifecycle: i.e. from prospective applicants through to alumni.
- 2.1. Develop and enact a plan to engage with academics, students and other stakeholder groups in order to base services on their practice and needs.
- 2.2. Provide documented guidance and supporting systems and services to improve the IT/AV resources facilities within existing and new learning spaces, including lecture capture.
- 2.3. Improve existing services and develop new ones that support the administrative functions through the full student lifecycle, where possible simplifying or consolidating existing processes.
- 2.4. Improve wifi provision to support student experience.
- 2.5. Provide a comprehensive map of IT support for students.
- 2.6. Develop interfaces to support device-independent secure services based on responsive web design principles that create the same standard of experience seamlessly across the University.
- 2.7. Provide consolidated information on IT training opportunities for staff and students (especially graduate students) supported by a range of courses covering basic digital literacy, and applying IT to teaching, learning and research.
- 2.8. Develop and support tailored learning technology tools and a virtual learning environment that incorporates forward-looking learning systems and allows the use of best of breed.
Widening Engagement is the third priority area within the University Strategic Plan. A major aspect of the strategy is delivered through a stronger digital presence, collaborative working with local authorities, industry and charities, including the Oxford University Hospital Trusts, Harwell Oxford, Begbroke Science Park and Isis Innovation. Similarly, through such partnerships, the IT Strategic Plan delivers the infrastructure and common toolset to facilitate widening engagement of the global research and teaching community, the public and local community.
- To share the fruits of research and open educational resources as widely as possible.
- To provide infrastructure and tools to support curation, discovery and access to the Bodleian, the museums and other digital collections.
- To support the collegiate University in the provision of a stronger digital presence.
- 3.1 Provide a central web publishing support service, including training and guidance on web design and information governance, in line with the recommendations of the review of web provision.
- 3.2 Implement digital content management systems for central collections.
- 3.3 Collaborate with Oxford City and County Councils, Oxford Brookes University, and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to deliver a city-wide wireless network capability and investigate the sharing of other infrastructure services where appropriate.
- 3.4 Support community engagement tools to enable citizen science.
- 3.5 Provide services that support the growth in access to open education resources and supporting tools.
The University administrative enterprise information systems provide a technology platform that enables administrative support for the functions of the University – research, support of students and staff, fund raising, procurement and financial administration.
Effective enterprise systems can increase operational efficiency and cost savings. They allow information to be shared across functional levels and provide the capability to use that information to support management decisions. Information systems are only as good as the business processes they support. Complex, diverse, ill-defined processes result in inefficient and difficult-to-support systems.
Within the University we have a number of siloed information systems that support finance, personnel, student administration, and research funding. To improve the quality of information available to researchers, heads of departments and others, there needs to be an integrated and trusted view of the data from each system; this can only be achieved through a shared data architecture, clear data governance and streamlined administrative processes. Together with the deployment of appropriate reporting and business intelligence tools, the use of this integrated data can improve the quality of decision-making across the University.
More effective supplier management through clearly stated deliverables, cost management and contractual safeguards would lead to value-for-money procurement and system delivery. Appropriate business analysis and change management would lead to more efficient and usable systems.
- To provide secure, effective information systems that support efficient, streamlined and consistent business processes and provide high-quality information.
- To increase the business value of administrative systems through improved usability, integration of independent information streams, and reporting tools.
- 4.1 Ensure that as part of the IT service development and enhancement cycles IT systems are designed to optimize operational efficiency of University processes, where possible creating measurable cost savings.
- 4.2 Develop a data architecture and governance framework to support the integration of information systems to provide high-quality information that meets the needs of service owners and users.
- 4.3 Upgrade enterprise systems as planned in the capital plan renewal roadmap to ensure full support and enable improvements in functionality.
- 4.4 Review business information requirements as well as business intelligence and reporting tools in order to provide high-quality management information.
- 4.5 Review system integration tools and platforms to ensure sustainable model in place.
To ensure that IT services are comparable to utility services in their predictability requires resilient and secure IT infrastructure. Communications networks need to be both high-bandwidth to allow the high levels of traffic generated by the University and sufficiently resilient to enable services to run 24 hours a day. The University has central data centre provision to ensure resilient services; this includes the University Shared Data Centre that supports both the hosting of departmental systems and virtual services for departmental use.
- To provide resilient end-to-end, high-performing network infrastructure and to create an efficient, shared and consolidated IT estate.
- To integrate with and leverage regional, national and international infrastructure.
- 5.1 Through a CIO-led consultative initiative, develop a coherent technology architecture and roadmap for the University, in order to inform other strategic activities and future system renewal.
- 5.2 Deliver a modern, high-performance network for the collegiate University, including the campus backbone, improved wireless connectivity, and a managed network service for departments and colleges.
- 5.3 Deliver an integrated communications service, replacing the existing telecommunications service with a platform that integrates email, instant messaging, video and voice data.
- 5.4 Develop a clear “cloud services” framework and decision tree to support evaluation and procurement of services within the collegiate University.
- 5.5 Implement a tiered storage platform to support backup, active storage, secure “dropbox” and long-term preservation services, utilizing a combination of on premise and “cloud” services.
- 5.6 Develop a standards framework to use in negotiation with suppliers for the procurement of interoperable systems and services.
- 5.7 Enable mobile devices to be managed effectively using the appropriate infrastructure and tools.
- 5.8 Move towards a coordinated and consolidated estate of University IT infrastructure.
- 5.9 Develop high-bandwidth connectivity between the central University campus, Old Road Campus, Harwell Oxford, Begbroke Science Park and other regional knowledge centres.
- 5.10 Ensure that IT services delivered to the collegiate University are secure, resilient and reliable.
Cybersecurity in this context refers to policies and practices relating to the protection of information, data, systems and networks from attacks and unauthorised access. Cyber attacks and intrusions have increased dramatically; these have the potential to expose sensitive personal or research information, to disrupt the operations of the University and to lead to reputational or other damage. In order to reduce the threat of cyber attacks and intrusions, members of the University must comply with the University Information Security Policy, IT services must operate securely, and underpinning infrastructure must be secure, resilient and reliable.
- To support the collegiate University in managing the risks related to information technology through increased user awareness, appropriate security practice and the implementation of the University's Information Security Policy.
- To provide secure and easily used IT infrastructure and services to allow the secure management and sharing of information across the University.
- 6.1 Promote and support local implementation of the University Information Security Policy, identification of sensitive information assets, and mitigation of associated risks and easy to use methods and tools.
- 6.2 Improve information security awareness across the collegiate University with a focus on training applied to roles and University scenarios.
- 6.3 Provide tools and protocols to allow the sharing of information securely within and outside the University on any device.
- 6.4 Implement consistent identity and access management, including single sign-on, across the portfolio of University systems.
- 6.5 Improve detection of, response to, and reporting of information security incidents across the collegiate University.
Note: all these activities were deemed to be high priority and are listed in order of maturity.
The University deserves and should demand excellence in its IT systems which should be reliable, efficient, robust, secure and fit for purpose. User requirements should be at the core of programme planning and service provision, and quality processes are needed to ensure continuous service improvement. At Oxford we have the advantage that there are research groups in the University who are advancing knowledge in IT, programme delivery, cybersecurity and related areas. If effective engagement is enabled, the proximity of such activities should benefit IT delivery at the University.
- To be responsive to the requirements of the University through increased agility and innovation.
- To embed quality management throughout the life-cycle of IT services and projects.
- To improve IT services and their development through engagement with staff, students, other service providers and Oxford research groups.
- To reduce replication of services by providing central services of sufficient quality and cost effectiveness that departments and colleges choose to opt in.
- 7.1 Through improved consultation channels (a) engage with University staff and students to review the service catalogue ensure it is aligned with present needs; (b) develop user-facing service descriptions to increase visibility and clarity of information for staff and students about the services on offer and their costs; (c) increase dialogue about IT development across the collegiate University; (d) encourage colleges and departments to engage with the central development roadmap and initiate ideas about future IT programmes
- 7.2 Put in place clear prioritisation and allocation mechanisms for projects and services to ensure appropriate levels of service support.
- 7.3 Provide a standard framework for IT project delivery and service management in order to ensure reliability, consistency and effectiveness.
- 7.4 Develop an IT governance framework to provide appropriate oversight of project and service delivery.
- 7.5 Develop and publish a transparent service cost model that can be applied to core and cost-recovery services alike.
- 7.6 Develop an end-to-end support process underpinned by a central service desk that builds on the present IT support staff services (ITS3), thereby increasing engagement with departmental and college IT officers.
- 7.7 Develop protocols for the resilience, business continuity and disaster recovery of central services and provide guidance for their local implementation.
- 7.8 Develop a consolidated service point approach across IT Services, Bodleian Libraries, departments and colleges to provide a more effective support service for students and staff.
Staff and Skills
IT services and support are as good as the people providing them. The University is competing with the private and public sectors, as well as with other HE organisations for skilled IT staff. We need to ensure that we have strong managerial and technical career development paths for staff, appropriate mechanisms for recruitment, development, succession, retention and reward.
- To develop an IT organisation fit to deliver IT service excellence.
- To develop a culture in IT that is professional and friendly, recognises leadership, cultivates collaboration, fosters continuous learning and promotes innovation.
- 8.1 Continue to focus on recruitment, development and retention of high-calibre staff. Build and develop management and leadership capacity within IT through training, mentoring and secondments.
- 8.2 Develop staff to enhance their effectiveness and contribution to the University's goals by ensuring they understand Oxford's purpose, structures and culture.
- 8.3 Take a proactive approach to collegiate University IT staff development to enhance skills including IT leadership, IT service management, project management, system integration and software skills.
- 8.4 Build stronger mechanisms to provide support for divisional, departmental and college administrators and Heads of Departments through local IT recruitment and the support and development of existing local IT staff.