III. The Strategic Roadmap Project: Developing the Roadmap
Project Objectives and Scope
The objective of the University of Washington Strategic Roadmap for Information Management and Administrative Systems (Roadmap) project was to define a vision for the future of information management and administrative systems (IM/AS) at the University of Washington, aligned with the institution’s business goals and priorities, and to develop an action plan for achieving this vision. The Roadmap was created to be the UW’s strategic plan for IM/AS.
The Roadmap was initiated in the fall of 2007 in response to the IS Futures Task force and at the request of the Board of Deans and Chancellors, Information Management Advisory Committee (I-MAC), and other key stakeholders.
The Roadmap was designed by business owners in collaboration with the Office of Information Management (OIM) and its constituent stakeholders. The Information Management Advisory Committee (I-MAC) served as the project’s steering committee. Executive sponsors included Provost Phyllis Wise and Vice President for UW Technology Ron Johnson. OIM will implement and maintain the plan, under the oversight of the I-MAC.
The scope of the Roadmap was to focus on institution-wide information management and administrative systems. The Roadmap was organized around the following key areas:
Governance and Partnership, including:
- Leadership, alignment, and strategic partnerships
- Prioritization and governance
- Guiding principles
- Ongoing planning process
Information Management, including
- Data access
- Common definitions
- Common solutions, support for specialized needs
- Leveraging distributed knowledge and expertise
Administrative Systems, including
- Business process improvement
- Core systems modernization:
- Finance, procurement, budget
- Student and academic administration, including course management
- Research administration
- Facilities and space
The scope of the Roadmap project did not include:
- Technical infrastructure, security middleware, desktop tools, digital libraries, or collaboration tools. These areas will be coordinated with the UW Technology strategic planning initiatives, along with overlapping areas such as the MyUW portal.
- Academic teaching and learning tools, which are planned and supported by UW Technology.
- Applications specific to individual departments such as medical center billing and clinical systems, and athletic ticketing systems.
- Funding solutions.
For more information, see the Roadmap Project Charter.
The following diagram provides a high-level overview of the timing and major phases of the Roadmap project, followed by an overview of the key activities in each phase:
- Develop the project approach, organizational and decision-making structure, communication plan, team members, issue resolution structure, and meeting plans
- Design template deliverables for the task groups
- Conduct interviews with key stakeholders
- Document and organize results, identify broad themes
- Identify and document institutional business goals and priorities
Document Current State
- Review and summarize the inventory of current systems (including technology used, number of users, age, and a stability assessment)
- Review and summarize projects in progress or projects previously submitted for funding and approval
- Identify resources required to support the current environment
- Identify key business processes
- Summarize relevant data from previous studies including discovery/assessment meetings, the IS Futures Task Force findings, and other relevant recent studies
- Conduct additional interviews and work sessions as needed
- Develop a current-state assessment for each task group area including an analysis of what is working and of risks, challenges, and opportunities
- Summarize previous related UW research, plans, and studies
- Research what other comparable institutions and the state of Washington are doing in areas such as:
- Information management
- Administrative systems
- Guiding principles
- Research technical trends and the state of the application software industry for higher education
- Research best practices and examples from third-party research organizations
- Summarize the analysis of trends and research
Define the Vision
- Develop guiding principles
- Work in task groups to define the vision for individual areas; coordinate across teams for consistency of vision; engage task group sponsors, deans, and other advisory groups in vision discussions
- Document the vision
Analyze the Gap
- Compare the current-state assessment to the desired state as defined in the vision and analyze the gap between the two.
Develop Action Plan
- Define long-term priorities and initiatives
- Define preferred sequencing based on priorities, dependencies, capacity, readiness, and risk
- Define short-term and interim solutions for each area based on overall calendar and sequencing
- Develop a sequenced roadmap to achieve the vision
- Define a governance and responsibility model
- Develop an ongoing, repeatable planning process
The Roadmap project engaged more than 170 stakeholders representing schools, colleges, campuses, medical centers, deans, faculty, centralized support functions, administrative staff, and technology managers.
Working teams of participants were divided into nine task groups focused on three specific areas:
- Administrative Systems, including facilities/space, finance/budget/procurement, HR/payroll, student administration, research administration, and alumni/development
- Information Management, including decision support and integration/infrastructure
Task group work was overseen by a Roadmap Working Team that included business leaders representing all major areas of the institution, including the leads of each task group. The Roadmap Working Team took the work of the task groups, integrated their findings and conclusions, and established overall priorities based on benefits, risks, and support for the institutional goals. See the Roadmap Working Team Appointment Letter.
The work was also reviewed by the Information Management and Administrative Systems Technology Advisory Group (IM/AS TAG), that included senior technology leaders from OIM, UW Technology, schools, and campuses. The IM/AS TAG provided technical review and input into the process and the recommendations.
The recommendations from the Roadmap Working Team were presented for review and approval to the Information Management Advisory Committee (I-MAC), in its role as project steering committee.
The following diagram shows how the Roadmap project was organized.
Further details on the objectives, scope, approach, organization, and roles is provided in the Roadmap Project Charter.
The first step in the Roadmap effort was to gather input from key stakeholders across the University community on key challenges in UW information management and administrative systems. Deans, administrators, computing directors, vice provosts, vice presidents, and other key stakeholders were interviewed during the winter/spring of 2007 as part of this discovery/assessment effort. More than 700 comments were collected and divided into four broad themes. Those themes are summarized below. A complete list of themes and of groups interviewed is available on the OIM Web site. See http://www.washington.edu/uwit/im/reports/EmergingThemes_May2007.pdf
Summary of Themes
Strategy, Policy, and Partnership
Moving forward will take strong leadership. There is agreement that 80 percent of business processes could share a common solution while still allowing for specialized, local needs. Addressing major challenges will require additional resources. The UW needs to clarify the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of its IT governance structure, including the various IT and priority-setting groups.
Comments from stakeholders:
“UW needs to manage itself as a ‘whole’ institution.”“Everyone is doing the same work in each school, which is not a smart use of resources; we'd rather spend time doing things that truly are unique to our own school.”
“Have a central place to identify which schools are doing workarounds; identify commonalities and reduce duplicative work.”
Operational and strategic decision making relies on accurate and consistent institutional data. The ability to track money, people, and space across the entire information life cycle is critical. The UW needs broader, timelier access to data and analytical tools and consistent, accurate data. Data needs to be integrated across all subject areas and span the life cycle of activities.
Comments from stakeholders:
“It is not clear whether the data we get is accurate. If we ask two different people, we may get two different answers.”
“We need analytical data. We need the ability to see a broad ‘dashboard’ view of the data and the ability to manipulate the data to see both transaction and summary levels. This will enable us to tell customers where their money goes.”
“It can be difficult to know which questions to ask because a term (e.g., ‘faculty’) may have a different meaning to different people. It shouldn't vary across units.”
Business Processes and Information Systems
Our core central systems (financial, HR/payroll, and student) do not meet institutional needs and need to be replaced. Daily heroics, shadow systems, and other workarounds lead to inefficiencies and loss of productivity. Business units need to start working collaboratively to identify ways to streamline business processes and create consistencies across the University.
Comments from stakeholders:
“We need to reassess our existing business processes in light of new technology.”
“Weigh the need to have flexibility versus having a consistent process across campus.”
“We need to replace our core legacy systems ‘cold turkey’ and invest in a new system. We can no longer afford to keep prolonging them. It seems that too many resources are tied up in maintenance for these antiquated systems.”
The University needs to build a developer community to leverage technical knowledge and expertise across units. In addition, a distributed development environment will enable access to central services while supporting local development to meet specialized needs. As new systems and information architectures are developed, security must remain a top priority.
Comments from stakeholders:
“We need to standardize the programming language and a standard skill set for programmers, etc. Different units are building systems in different languages, which has lead to a proliferation of shadow systems. These skill sets are not necessarily portable across UW.”
“We need a 'continuous improvement' approach so we are always keeping up with new technologies and ensuring the system is viable for years to come.”
“We've created so many systems to support various administrative functions—they all work—but they are not connected in any way.”
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: