Questions IT Leaders need to be asking

9 11 2011


(The chart is small, so click on it to see a larger version; or see the text below for the text of the chart)

I think that this is a good chart of what IT leaders need to be looking at for their organization.
Cost is important! Especially in higher education where the cost for a private institution is sky-rocketing.

When you look at our department, and IT in general, I think, licensing accounts for a lot of our budget. I went to a session at SCaLE (Southern CA Linux Expo) where the presenter, who worked at an elementary school, switched all of their computers to use Linux products rather than Microsoft machines. They saved thousands on licensing.

Raises a good question: do all of our staff members really need to be using Windows/Mac machines? Could we put the specialized Windows products on Citrix so that users are served up Internet Explorer and other Windows-proprietary services via a web browser or Citrix client?

It would be hard to switch everyone to a platform like this, but what about doing a lot of users? The secretaries who use Office and the Web. They could use Linux. Really they could. It’s not too difficult once it’s set up.

Set 1:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Why is information technology so expensive?
— How can we reduce the cost of information technology?
— Are we more or less expensive than our peers? than effective IT organizations outside higher education?
— Are our services as effective as they should be relative to their costs

The Current Benchmark Data
— Cross-institutional data on central IT budgets
— Cross-institutional data on central IT costs for staffing, capital projects, and operations
— Propriety benchmarks from consulting groups

The Needed Data
— Service-based costs standardized across higher education
— Service catalogs and key performance indicators based on industry standards and adapted for higher education
— Research on cost drivers for specific applications or services (e.g., ERPs)

Set 2:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— How can information technology be a more effective partner with institutional leadership?
— How can information technology better support the institution’s strategy?
— How can our institution use information technology most effectively?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Case studies of effective uses of information technology
— Survey data associating effective results with specific practices

The Needed Data
— A definition and measurement of alignment that can be applied across all types of higher education institutions
— Factors associated with lesser or greater alignment and resulting models
— An assessment kit to assist higher education institutions that desire to benchmark their institution against national benchmarks

Set 3:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Should we partner with other institutions on some of our IT services?
— What is the right sourcing model?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Anecdotes
— Examples and data from outside higher education

The Needed Data
— Research on effective models of cross-institutional collaboration
— Analytics using service-based costs standardized across higher education to identify successful sourcing models for various services and institutional types

Set 4:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Are we leading or lagging our peers in instructional technology? use of social media? information security? mobile technologies? research computing?
— What would it cost to become a leader in these areas?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Survey results based on questionable samples
— Informal peer polls
— Anecdotes

The Needed Data
— Maturity indices for IT services in higher education and cross-institutional comparative data
— Analytics using service-based costs standardized across higher education to compare service costs for various maturity levels and institutional types.

Set 5:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Who is doing x and how?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Informal listserv-based polls and queries

The Needed Data
— Just-in-time representative research on hot topics




One response

9 11 2011

Moving users from Windows/Mac to Linux would be hard and I am not sure how much money would be saved. Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be a good thing but in my opinion there is other low hanging fruit to go after. I recently implemented Bacula (Open source backup solution) at where I work. The project took about 3 weeks to fully implement and saved the company around $40,000 dollars. It had almost no impact on users and very little buy-in was needed from users/groups/management.

It helps (maybe a necessity) for big changes (like switching peoples desktops) to come from the top down. Looking to open source first (or building it yourself) requires certain type of culture that starts from the top.

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