Current State Assessment
Each of the nine Strategic Roadmap task groups conducted an in-depth evaluation of the current state of IM/AS from their area's perspective. Each group assessed what is working well today and evaluated potential risks and challenges with the existing systems. The groups also examined business and technical trends and best practices. The outcome was a current state document for each area, which are summarized below. Detailed summaries and the complete current state documents follow.
On this page:
- Summary of Current State Findings
- Funding for IM/AS
- Complete Current State documents (UW only)
Summary of Current State Findings
Managing information is key to decision making and administering day-to-day business activities at the UW. Information Management (IM) provides technology and infrastructure to support the management of information, including data and services.
Data Access, Data Integration. Information is trapped in central systems. It is difficult to obtain permission to access central data stores, and the access usually is platform-centric. Once obtained, the data is not well-understood, generally not scalable, and not integrated with information from other applications.
To compensate for these deficiencies, local shadow systems store redundant, inconsistent, and sensitive data. Business owners rely on this data to make decisions, but they question its accuracy. In addition, the number of shadow systems raises concerns about data security and privacy.
Innovation and Business Agility. Our central infrastructure is seen as holding back innovation. We are unable to keep up with changing business needs due to the complexity of our technology. We have many technical and business people who are resistant to change. We are a large, decentralized institution and yet we do not provide the kind of central infrastructure that enables change at the edges.
Our culture is evolving to embrace change. There are many people who want change and will help to make it happen. Newer technologies and techniques do exist that can dramatically increase agility and foster innovation.
Collaboration. There has been a lack of collaboration between central and departmental information technology and information management. Without knowing what others are working on or what already is available, we pour time and effort into re-inventing the wheel. We are beginning to see improvements. The USER (University Services Renewal) methodology has involved business users in project development. OIM has created a new Community and Partnership Development division to identify partnership opportunities, common resources, and existing solutions to support information systems and projects. RESTful Web-service architecture and Resource Oriented Architecture (ROA) encourage collaboration and interoperability between systems in disparate environments.
Technical Complexity and Maintainability. We are overwhelmed by the complexity of the technical environment. Understanding the effects of even small changes is becoming inordinately difficult. Old technologies aren't phased out fast enough, making our systems more and more challenging to maintain.
Creating an information architecture that stores our information in the proper places and makes it easy for users to find and understand it is the key to realizing the full potential of our information assets.
The UW has been incrementally investing in its administrative systems, particularly through the USER Project. USER projects such as the Online Payroll Update System, Employee Self Service, Financial Desktop Initiative, Online Work/Leave System, and others have provided user-friendly functionality missing from the core systems that has improved productivity for scores of UW faculty, staff, and students. The UW has also incrementally invested in the Enterprise Data Warehouse, which is making progress towards providing access to data for decision making.
More recently, the Technology Advisory Committees and other decision-making groups have made a positive start towards project prioritization and portfolio management to help ensure that the UW is working on the right projects. The UW has been investing in projects recommended by the Information Management Advisory Committee. In addition, Alumni Advancement, Facility Services, and Research Administration are upgrading their major systems.
The UW's legacy systems are nearing the end of their lifespan. They were designed for an academic climate and funding model that no longer exists. Yesterday's rigid technical environment isn't flexible enough to adapt to today's changing and expanding business model. This gap has led to missing both functionality and key data.
Our budget system doesn't meet current objectives of resource planning and allocation. Major functionality is missing in our receivables, capitalization, and financial reporting systems. Accrual accounting is neither timely nor available at the department level. There is no central tool for forecasting and planning. The UW's payroll system does not meet current payroll business rules. We do not have a human resources system.
Missing central data has led to a proliferation of shadow systems and lack of integration. Units across the UW are duplicating processes and data, which results in inefficient use of staff time and is a data security risk. There are no institutional data definitions to ensure a common understanding of data being used. There are a growing number of requests for reporting information at the enterprise level, but the UW's stand-alone systems do not allow the integration necessary to answer many questions. Security access policies are inconsistent and not well understood.
Governance Current State
There are more than 20 committees focused on IM/AS prioritization and decision making, but they operate independently and inconsistently and without clear decision-making pathways and authority. Roles and responsibilities are not well defined, not all IM/AS areas are covered, and membership is not always representational, as it tends to be weighted toward central administration. There is no strategic framework to guide decision making. While the Information Management Advisory Committee (I-MAC) does provide a formalized process for approving and prioritizing enterprise level IM/AS projects, the intake and prioritization processes are viewed as cumbersome.
Portfolio management is the process by which investment decisions are made to maximize value and align work with strategic goals. It includes selecting, prioritizing, and monitoring results across an enterprise. Portfolio management is practiced in few areas. There is no enterprise portfolio management strategy for all IM/AS projects and applications; however, it is recognized that portfolio management could provide a prioritization framework. In addition, this portfolio management strategy needs to be supported by a Project Management Office that can track and monitor the portfolio and provide portfolio analysis as well as project planning, oversight, and best practices.
There is widespread recognition of the value of cross-unit collaboration on project work, but no frameworks exist to allow units to develop collaborative proposals, share resources, and establish working partnerships around IM/AS projects.
Investment in IM/AS has been relatively minimal and the funding year to year has been unpredictable. Investments often are made reactively and in a piecemeal fashion, with compliance risk being a major decider, as opposed to investing in projects that align with the University's strategic direction.
In the last decade the University has channeled much of its limited resources towards technology infrastructure and investments that support research and learning. As a consequence, the UW's infrastructure is excellent, and we have kept our competitive edge in research, as evidenced by the UW continuing to be the top public university in federal research funding since 1974.
At the same time, there has been a history of underinvestment in information management and administrative systems. Operational (base) support for the administrative systems is at the bare minimum to keep the systems going, and funding for enhancement projects and new systems has been small and unpredictable.
In the last ten years the USER Initiative provided about $20 million for HR/Payroll, Financial Desktop, and SAGE (research administration) projects. In the three years of its existence, the I-MAC proposal process has allocated about $12.5 million to projects. I-MAC has tended to recommend projects that address a compliance gap, and over half of its total funding allocation has been for research administrative systems.
Each Task Group worked with its sponsors to define a vision for its area. The following is a summary.
Administrative Systems Vision
The UW’s administrative systems will fully support this institution’s complex and
evolving business needs, improving the productivity and efficiency of people at every level of the
institution. The systems will provide the full range of functionality required to meet most of the
needs of units and departments, significantly reducing the need for shadow systems to compensate
for inadequate functionality. The systems will be flexible and agile enough to keep up with the
UW’s changing business needs.
Within 10 years the UW will have …
- Replaced its aging legacy systems to:
- Meet user needs for transactional efficiency and management information
- Reduce the risk of unsupportable and inflexible systems
- Improve integration across systems
- Improve consistency in the user experience
- Provide agility to support future needs
- Improve asset control
- Support a new chart of accounts and reporting structure
- Support comprehensive planning, allocation, and reporting, forecasting, and indirect-cost recovery
- Provide the ability to track data centrally through its life cycle in areas such as employee records, faculty history, student activities, financial transactions, and research
- Allow departments and units to easily extend core data to meet their unique needs
- Improved business processes to:
- Leverage new technologies
- Eliminate redundant and inefficient processes
- Document and share best practices in order to realize the greatest efficiencies and maximize effectiveness
- Integrate workflow management to efficiently coordinate work across units
- Save resources and optimize use of our limited resources
- Guide faculty, researchers, and staff through compliance and administrative processes
- Develop feedback and quality assurance solutions that continuously improve our business processes
- Foster a culture of open communication and collaboration between departmental and central IT and between business owners and developers
Information Management Vision
will provide access to accurate information to support effective
decision making and advance the University’s strategic goals. A
full suite of scalable and robust information delivery tools will be
provided that supports on-demand and real-time access to data and enables
users to easily search, find, develop, and run reports.
The UW will develop common infrastructure, architecture, and support services necessary to integrate and streamline departmental and institutional information and processes. Data management and integration will provide a streamlined data management environment that integrates data across the University. The UW will develop a comprehensive and trusted enterprise data warehouse recording the life cycle of data across all major business areas. The UW will develop the technology environment necessary to enable collaborative development across UW departments and units.
Within 10 years the UW will have …
- Developed data structures and analytical tools to:
- Provide a comprehensive and trusted enterprise data warehouse recording the life cycle of data across all major business areas
- Provide timely, accurate, and integrated data, with appropriate privacy protection
- Support effective decision making and advance the University’s strategic goals
- Support effective planning, measurement, and cost recovery
- Developed an information architecture to:
- Provide secure and reliable infrastructure and services
- Provide technologies that are integrated, open, personalized, consistent, and responsive to the needs of the University community. The UW has the right technology to allow its diverse user community to easily search, find, develop, and run reports.
- Provide transparent, agile, and open standards-based access to everything digital, anywhere, anytime, with any device. The UW’s next-generation technology environment will be flexible, scalable, and easy to maintain and update. It will be designed and developed with appropriate fault tolerance and cost efficiencies in mind and will strike a balance between in-house and outsourced solutions to meet all user needs.
- Provide middleware services that advance a standard development process to make common functionality simple, reliable, and reusable
- Provide an environment that ensures security and privacy with clearly defined policies and procedures around access, use, and retention of data
- Protect institutional data from loss or destruction
- Provide a bridge between business processes and underlying technology
- Developed standards, best practices, and a collaborative environment to:
- Support an active, highly-trained user community that exchanges ideas, analysis, and knowledge
- Empower innovation at the edges and promote loosely-coupled integration between central and departmental systems
- Implemented a rational strategy for system retirement and continual improvement to:
- Improve system maintainability
- Reduce technical complexity
- Support business agility
The University will evolve a transparent, well understood governance framework that enables a cohesive, coordinated, and collaborative approach to decision making. This framework will ensure the involvement of key stakeholders, promote consistency across IM/AS projects, and enable holistic decision making.
The UW will have a mature, open, and transparent portfolio management framework that includes projects, applications, and human resources. It will balance cost, scope, and risks across the enterprise, align resources and projects with the UW’s strategic priorities, and include both central and local resources and projects of all scopes. It will be supported by a Project Management Office that provides portfolio analysis, project planning and oversight, and implements project management best practices.
An ongoing strategic planning process will continuously evaluate and update the Roadmap to reflect changes in technology and in the University’s goals and priorities.
There is effective human resources management for IM/AS staffing that will provide effective workforce management, professional development, and succession strategies; better management of recruitment and retention; and clear roles and responsibilities across unit IM/AS staff regarding their partnerships with OIM and each other.
The UW will have developed the services, processes, structures, administrative support, and technical architecture necessary to enable community-based projects and initiatives.
The UW will have evolved and maintained a predictable, sustainable investment model that supports innovation, maintenance, and renewal, advances the goals of the Roadmap, and enables the University to fully support its business needs.
Initiatives and Action Plan
The final step in the Roadmap project was to develop recommended initiatives and an action plan outlining timing and sequencing. The task groups fleshed out recommended initiatives and timelines for each of their areas. The Roadmap Working Team then integrated and prioritized that work, and it produced the five recommended initiatives and action plan as presented in the Roadmap report.
A draft of the recommended initiatives and action plan was then presented in spring 2008 to the Information Management Advisory Committee, the University Technology Advisory Committee, the Board of Deans and Chancellors, and other key stakeholders. Through those discussions, the following near-term priorities were identified:
- Move forward with the financial system replacement. Begin work on a needs assessment and explore possible partnerships, including with the state, as well as other options.
- Join the Kuali Student partnership. Become a founding member of the Kuali Foundation student system development effort.
- Invest in high-value system enhancements as funding allows.
- Identify a long-term funding strategy to implement the Roadmap initiatives. This includes identifying an annual operating and capital investment plan for information management and administrative systems.
The first stage of the UW Strategic Roadmap project was an assessment of the current state of the university systems. Eight task groups were formed; six groups represented the major administrative systems and two groups covered information management and governance. Each task group performed an assessment of what is working well today, evaluated the potential risks and challenges with the existing systems, and examined trends and best practices within each area.
The outcome of this effort is represented in each of the following documents. A high level overview of the findings and conclusions from each group is provided as well.