Over the past five years, Buffalo State College Information Technology (IT) has experienced significant changes that directly affected its ability to stabilize and mobilize to meet customer expectations. Having had four chief information officers (CIOs) in five years, IT’s strategic direction has been transient at best. During that time, higher education IT has made a dramatic shift from being a behind-the-scenes contributor to being a key influencer of student success. At the same time, IT has been forced to address risks posed by cybersecurity threats. Consequently, the changing landscape and the lack of stabilization combine to pose a significant challenge that we must address immediately. An additional obstacle presented is the lack of an IT budget; the lack of fiscal clarity imposes strict limits on our aspirations.
Given the challenges presented, we chose to develop a three-year plan that focuses on improving both the customer’s experience and our IT infrastructure. To further inform our plan, we reached out for feedback from our key stakeholders. As we conducted stakeholder interviews, a few common themes emerged:
As we outline our plan for achieving our desired end-state—realization of our mission and vision— we will address each of these themes . To that end, we have identified five strategic goals:
1. Deliver world-class customer service
2. Strengthen and secure the IT infrastructure
3. Manage projects effectively
4. Implement collegewide process improvement
5. Exemplify, support, and promote data-driven decisionmaking
This plan establishes the foundation and focuses on steadying IT. This focus is consistent with the college’s strategic plan and expectation of achieving that plan’s stated technology goals:
Prior to developing the plan, Information Technology sought input from all key stakeholders including:
We believe in the importance of involving our stakeholders in shaping our strategy. We will continue to solicit and listen to the voice of the customer as we implement this plan.
When we speak of our customer, we are referring to students, faculty, and staff. Delivering world-class customer service requires that we hear and respond to the voice of the customer in a knowledgeable, effective, and customer-friendly fashion. Information Technology will focus the following action items:
The IT infrastructure serves as the backbone for the college’s critical functions. The broad scope of the infra- structure’s impact includes recruitment, admission, aid, academic experience, safety, and alumni engagement. We must be certain the infrastructure is stable, secure, and performing optimally. As well, should minor, major, or disastrous events occur, IT must be able to restore services within an acceptable time frame. To that end, we will accomplish the following:
IT project management needs to ensure predictability in project implementation success. Also, as software development is performed primarily by vendors, IT project management will not specify a required software development methodology. Methodologies will vary depending on the nature of the development. While some projects require iterative approaches (Agile, Scrum, etc.), other projects may be accomplished using waterfall. Our focus will be on delivery, and we will improve our effectiveness through accomplishing the following:
With recent budget reductions in mind, Buffalo State College will be challenged to deliver higher quality results while significantly reducing its expenditures. IT will seek to significantly reduce operating expenses by eliminating waste in processes. In doing so, staff should be able to perform fewer unproductive tasks and apply their effort to more value-added tasks. In addition to improving process efficiency, we will improve process accuracy.
We will focus on the following:
As technology now provides instant access to a wealth of information, consumers of data can make informed decisions in real time. The effectiveness of those decisions hinges on the ability to draw correct conclusions based on accurate and properly interpreted data. IT will lead the shift toward data-driven decision-making through accomplishing the following:
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