This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT
MBAMS 647- STRATEGY MANAGEMENT
IT STRATEGY PROJECT: CASE STUDY ON UMB IT STRATEGIC PLAN OF 2003
Apostolos Koutropoulos Bipin Vaddi Jude Okogbenin Alexandrine Policar Tanya Zucconi
December 12, 2006 UMB IT Strategic Plan Analysis: “Improving Access”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
General Description 2 Problem statement 4 - On campus Access--------------------------------------------------------------------------4 - Off campus Access -------------------------------------------------------------------------5 - Innovative New Services ------------------------------------------------------------------5 o Application Management o Laptop Loan Program o Access to Computing Summary of facts 6 Analys is of Facts - Problems and Issues With Current IT Strategy -----------------------------------------8 - Relationship Between Organizational Strategy and IT Strategy ---------------------8 - IT Strategy and Suppliers/Customers-----------------------------------------------------8 - Industry and Product/Service Issues -----------------------------------------------------9 - Values Chain Issue--------------------------------------------------------------------------9 - Reliability and Security---------------------------------------------------------------------9 - IT Infrastructure – Diversity and Internet------------------------------------------------9 - Managing Projects and Outsourcing------------------------------------------------------9 - Organization and Leadership of IT the Function----------------------------------------9 Strategic Alternatives - Strategy 1-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------12 - Strategy 2-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------14 - Strategy 3-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------15 Recommendation 16 Conclusion 18 Exhibits 22
The organization that our team is exploring is the University of Massachusetts – Boston (UMB). Specifically, we selected the UMB 2003 Technology Master Plan, a report and action plan prepared by an external IT consulting agency to identify and provide remedy for UMB’s apparent IT problems. The report is too lengthy to analyze in its entirety, as a result our team has therefore chosen one of the seven goals titled “Improve Capacity of and Access to Technical Infrastructure on and off the Campus” with a specific focus on the IT infrastructure and services provided by the Healey Library (the Library). UMB is a relatively young campus that is just over thirty years old. The organizational culture at UMB is very ad-hoc in nature, and services have been established on an as-needed basis, with very little coordination and cooperation between departments. This situation lead to the creation of IT resources across campus that were similar in nature but were run by completely separate departments, and thus created duplication of effort and resources, and wasted capital. Another flaw in creating services on an as-needed basis without campus-wide planning is the fact that on several occasions departments that needed to provide a service were dependent on data that was gathered by another department. These departments therefore needed to
collaborate, something which was not occurring because of political clout on the UMB campus. This history and environment inspired the UMB community, and then Chancellor Joanne Gora, to commission a report and action plan to unify disparate IT resources on campus. It has been slightly more than three years since the report and action plan was submitted. Some goals recommended in the report have suffered setbacks, an example of which is UMB being an “Internet 2” campus in 2003, something that has yet to happen. Other goals are in the process of being implemented. Examining the implementation of these goals will provide evidence of the success, or failure of the strategy. As we see in the Master Plan, the strategic prescription is for the Library to remain an independent entity, but the Library and the IT department should collaborate to offer innovative new services, and also provide transparent services. It should not matter where a UMB student, staff or faculty member goes to use a computer in the library building, the software and service level should be the same in the computer labs located on the upper level of the library building and run by IT, as they are on the fourth floor of the library building, which is run by the Library Systems group (2003 IT Master plan: p9). Overall, there has been noticeable improvement both on and off-campus in the services offered at the Library; however there are sectors in which both IT and the Systems groups can work together to improve the capacity and the access to resources on and off-campus. Throughout our analysis, we will look at the various Stakeholders involved in the successful implementation of the IT Strategic Plan. The major group of stakeholders are the faculty, staff and students of UMB (the Customers), the IT department staff (IT), and the Library’s IT staff (Systems).
Technology functions at UMB have not traditionally been cohesive, and the relationship between IT and other technology entities such as the Library has been and is still undefined and fragile. As an independent entity (with regard to information systems) the Library is still expected to work closely with IT and other service providers on campus to provide reliable services to its customers. The over-arching problem is based on the strategic prescription of Goal 4: Has access on and off-campus improved and have new and innovative services been implemented? How the library fits into the whole IT UMB strategy? What kind of hands shake exists between those two entities? Does the Library have a homogeneous IT strategy or not? What are the challenges and problems faced by Library as an independent entity from IT UMB in trying to provide better and faster services to its customers? How the new changes and decisions implemented by the Library will help in improving access on and off-campus to technical infrastructure at UMB? On campus access: Our major questions revolve around customer service and
availability of resources. Does the Library offer a homogeneous environment consistent with IT’s environment of similar products and services? What role is played by the Library in providing Learning Management Systems support at UMB? What is the level of integration between WebCT and Library Resources? Off-campus access: How can the Library ensure quality of service to provide on-demand 24x7 support for customer’s off-campus? This is especially important for UMB as it is a commuter school. Our analysis has a heavy component of IT-Library person-to-person networking and collaboration regarding the technical aspects of deployment and maintenance.
Have Library resources been available to off-campus Customers? Have Library resources been available on-campus but outside of the library building? Who is responsible to identify and authenticate wireless users requiring access? What role is played by the Library in bringing WiFi in campus? Innovative New Services: How are innovative new services implemented after the strategic prescriptions increases value-added resources at the Library and influences UMB reputation? How does the Library collaborate with IT stakeholders to determine if innovative services could have been implemented in a better fashion, and if there were ideas for implementation that could have provided exceptional added value but were never implemented? 1. Applications Management: What kind of software package did the Library use to manage its resources before the IT strategy plan? How efficient was the prior software package; was it a web based system? Is this software still in place, and if not, why? 2. Laptop Loan Program: Have the number of laptops owned by the Library increased in the past three years? Can we say the same about IT? If so, how does that help improve access on campus to customers? 3. Access to computing: UMB faculty, the biggest and the most powerful stakeholders group at UMB, raised the concerns that the University was not using the latest academic technology and there was not enough experienced staff allocated to train and support the students. Bringing technology resources together through increased collaboration between IT and Library will create a better synergy. A related question is, how can more visibility on IT services bring more funding?
SUMMARY OF FACTS
Our team has gathered a large amount of data, through interviews and through access to UMB reports, which we have used in our analysis of the on and off-campus access at UMB. The data are organized in three relevant categories. The first category is data regarding the access and innovation level at the Library before the formulation and implementation of the strategic plan. The second category is data regarding the Library today. Finally, we have data that pertains to the relationship of the Library and IT now and in the past, and how that relationship has evolved through time and cooperation. The Library, as described by former Library staff members, is an institution that innovated and increased access to resources both on and off-campus before there was an IT strategic plan for UMB. The Library is driven by new technologies to enhance the quality of services offered to the UMB community. The first, and major, innovation was the switching from the old book catalog which was VAX based, contained only book information and needed a high level of technical expertise which impeded access to the community. The new system was a web based interface on a UNIX platform which allowed more people to be able to search for books and customers to actively manage their accounts (see what books they had checked out, when they were due and how many, if any, fines they had). The second most important innovation was the move from paper journals to a CD-ROM based system, and then to an Internet based system. This allowed greater access to information for Library Customers not only 24x7, but also allowed concurrent use of an article whereas before if there was only one hard copy of the journal, then only one user could access it.
Library innovation and improved access is not just a thing of the past, it continues to this day. There have been a few setbacks due to retirement and employee turnover, but the momentum has kept the Library going. Projects are underway to implement Library-wide printing which would allow customers to use any computer in the library building and be able to pick up their print out from a number of locations. Additionally the Library is in the process of implementing a classroom capture system. This system would allow lectures and instruction sessions to be captured, stored, and streamed on demand. This will allow students to view lectures again to reinforce what they learned during the instructional session, and it will allow students who miss a lecture to view and learn the materials that were taught. Finally, we have data regarding the relationship of the Library and the IT group before and after the implementation of the IT Strategic Plan. The great news is that relationships between IT and the Library have improved extensively since the strategic plan was implemented. Initially IT was “hands-off”. Before the implementation of the plan, IT only provided network infrastructure for the Library, in essence playing the role of an ISP. The Library bought and configured all of its own resources because there was no group-buy option and IT did not provide help in configuring and maintaining their servers and desktops. Today the picture is quite different. IT is more responsive to the Library’s needs. The IT department does not provide full level service to the Library, but when there are emergencies in the Library’s data center for example, the IT data center staff provide added staff and expertise to help resolve problems that could potentially negatively affect access to resources both on and off-campus.
ANALYSIS OF FACTS
Problems & Issues with Current IT Strategy The current strategy employed by the Library is best described as a work in progress; it is less a situation beset by problems or issues as it is a developing set of circumstances. This is largely because the strategy relies heavily on interdepartmental collaboration and cooperation, and these can ebb and flow as fluidly as the personnel, or funding change. This scenario is characteristic of a public university in an urban setting. It is also not unlike the chasm of viewpoints often seen when business executives and technical executive try to discuss IT initiatives (Bharati MSIS 647 lecture, Fall 2006, September 12, slide 2). As an independent unit for its information systems and strategy, the Library Systems group is expected to collaborate with IT to achieve the goals of offering innovative services to the Library’s customers. As described in Applegate, et al., and in class (Bharati MSIS 647 lecture, Fall 2006, September 12, slide 7), exploiting IT opportunities, while avoiding risk, requires sound execution, the ability to respond quickly, and cooperation among four key constituencies: business executives, IT executives, customers, and IT providers/partners. Team 3 clearly sees this playing out in the implementation of the strategy for the Library. One consideration in the strategy of “independence through collaboration, toward innovation” is the trade-offs faced by IT providers. In an interview with the current director of IT Client Services, who was formerly the Director of Library Systems, Team 3 heard stories of the learning curve faced by the Library in working with IT, and how sometimes that translated into a time frame tolerance – once the time frame passed a certain point, the Library needed to act because they could not wait for IT to respond to a request. In doing so, much was learned about
the technical elements of IT administration, and about the ‘triggers’ for getting IT involved. In relaying this story, the theoretical components of ‘ability to execute’ versus ‘size of opportunity’ come to mind. The decision made by the Library to occasionally ‘pick-up’ a project in lieu of waiting for IT had to be balanced against the Library’s ability to do so.
Relationship Between Organizational Strategy and IT Strategy An organization’s strategy must be appropriate for its resources, environmental circumstances, and core objectives. In our case, the Library’s objective of an overall strategy is to put the organization in a position to carry out its mission effectively and efficiently. A good organizational strategy should integrate an organization’s goals, policies, and action sequences (tactics) into a cohesive whole, and must be based on business realities without losing sight of the vision and this is all the more important for a service oriented organization like the Library. Strategy must connect with vision, purpose and likely future trends. In the process of assessing the Library’s functioning, we found out that due to some key people in upper management, the Library has always been aggressive when implementing IT strategy, compared to other departments at UMB. Because of the aggressiveness in decisionmaking and vision, they proceeded with implementation regardless of the help they were getting from IT. Since we are analyzing the relationship between the Library organizational strategies and the IT strategy, it becomes paramount for us to take a look at the nexus between the two. The IT Strategy Plan for the entire UMB specifically aims for homogeneous environments across the campus. The Strategic Plan document describes a “learning commons” where homogeneity and transparency are goals to be attained. Homogeneity is transparency of service to the Customer; if
a Customer goes to a computer lab serviced by IT, they will get the same computing and support experience, as they would get as if they went to a Library run computer area. This would not just include software and hardware support, but also knowledge on how to search databases, indexes, the Library book catalog, and knowledge of different services being offered and their locations in the library building. But even before this plan was implemented, the Library was going ahead with their own strategy when it came to implementing their systems or IT resources. This was because of the lack of co-operation from the IT department. Being a non-profit organization, the Library had to depend mainly on grants, donations and other funding resources from the government. When it comes to implementing cutting edge technology, the lack of funds and personnel did prove to be impediments. Organizational strategy implementation involves allocation of sufficient resources, establishing a chain of command, assigning specific responsibilities for groups or individuals within the organization and monitoring results, comparing to benchmarks and best practices, evaluating the efficacy and efficiency of the process and making adjustments to the process as necessary. Collaborative interdepartmental teams were not a part of the UMB culture. For example, the Library managed their own labs; they deployed their own servers, maintained an independent data center, and supported the entire IT infrastructure on their own. This was primarily the way the organization functioned and it was only a matter of time before they realized that their way of functioning needed to be more in sync with the IT department. After the implementation of the IT strategy plan, and the resulting personnel changes, cooperation and the relationship between the Library and IT has significantly improved. We noticed the emergence of collaborative interdepartmental teams, which resulted in enhanced cooperation and value for the UMB stakeholder.
IT Strategy and Suppliers/Customers An institution’s IT strategy should provide an effective means of reaching its customers, suppliers and business partners. Reliable and secure methods of a 2-way communication strategy to such stakeholders should be in place. A service oriented organization such as the Library should provide transparent services with a very stable state of the art technology. This is essential as their customer and supplier base are constantly changing, and as a result the institution should focus on providing innovative new services. The primary customers of the Library are the students, faculty and staff of UMB. The last six years have shown an explosion in technology, and the daily hectic lives of the individuals in this group call for easy, fast and secure access to the Library’s facilities. Gone are the days when limited access to paper journals and documents restricted their use to just a single individual. The fast paced and dynamic lives of both students and faculty lead to the implementation of providing this service online via the Internet, so that multiple people can simultaneously utilize the same document. Furthermore, the development of the Wi-Fi technology has provided another avenue of opportunity to access online services not just for the Library, but the entire campus as well. The vendors that provide the hardware and software technologies to the Library are equally an important group, because based on an organization’s IT strategy, an appropriate vendor should be selected to implement the appropriate communication infrastructure, thereby ensuring that both the organization (the Library in this case) and the Customers can interact and communicate effectively.
Industry and Product/Service Issues At one time, there was little involvement and guidance from IT and the Library managed all of its technology projects. This raised a significant problem when an IT strategy was being developed. It was difficult to design and move to a homogenous system because both IT and the Library ran different platforms for some applications and as a result integration of such platforms became an issue. There were also times when both institutions ran the same applications from the same vendors but since they bought the software as separate entities, they did not take advantage of the savings from volume pricing. It is well-known that companies and institutions that implement hardware and software solutions from multiple vendors have experienced performance, reliability and support issues, and in some cases this has caused the organization to decommission such applications. With UMB as an example, consider that too many technologies can cause confusion for the students and faculty. Both IT and the Library should work together to provide a homogenous technology environment for the various customer base. Another challenge being experienced by most institutions is the fact that they are pressured by competitive forces to provide online access on a 24 X 7 basis. Staying up to date with the latest technology at minimal cost is just one of the concerns institutions face. Others include assigning resources to manage such systems, purchasing equipment, and maintaining the equipment to ensure that they are always up and running.
Value Chain Issues The value chain is a concept originally developed by Michael Porter to describe the value-added process of a manufacturing organization. In 2006, when the local, regional, and global economies are much more services-, and much less manufacturing-based (80% versus 60% when Porter’s book was written), there is still a critical role in the analysis of an organization to be played by Porter’s seminal theory (Porter, 1985). The value chain categorizes the activities of an organization, dividing them into "primary activities" which include logistics, production operations, sales, marketing, and maintenance, and "support activities" which include human resources, research and design, and procurement. For each activity, the associated costs and value drivers are identified. This allows the costs to be evaluated, and minimized, so that profit-making can be maximized (Porter, 1985: 33-34). For a visual interpretation of the Library’s value chain, see Exhibit 6.
The activities of the Library that are evaluated in this paper are on- and off-campus access to resources, and innovative services such as laptop loan programs. These are servicedriven activities, not manufacturing activities, but they are still intended to meet the needs of the consumer/customer, defined elsewhere in this paper as stakeholders. The value of these activities is significant to the customer, and the drivers for the activities include the academic/research needs of the customers, the development of similar services across the industry, and the continual advancements of technology. The value of the laptop loan program was not recognized until it was piloted with a small number of units. Twenty years ago, this program would have been prohibitively expensive, as laptops were not typical, or affordable. But with the advent of the personal computer in the 70s and 80s, and the commercialization of the laptop in the 90s, the customers of the Library clamored for enhanced access, and the Library responded. After its initial success, the Library supplemented the pool of available laptops, and turned to other enhanced access services, such as the PDA program developed for the nursing students. In doing so, the Library has embraced technology as it moves through the value chain, developing its services to parallel, compliment, and benefit from the ever-changing technology.
Reliability and Security Reliability and security are critical factors in the Library’s consideration of strategic development. If the services provided by the Library are not reliable and secure, they lose their value, and the customers turn elsewhere for the resources they seek. Reliability for the Library means providing service when it is expected to, which requires minimizing ‘downtime’ due to standard maintenance or expected system failure. In part this can be achieved through redundancy. Security means that the Library can operate without undue concern about intrusions, external threats, or viruses that threaten the integrity of the data, services, or the hardware which support the data and services. While there are no apparent gains to be had from ‘hacking’ into the Library’s server structure (as opposed to hacking into the Pentagon, for example), there are individuals who pursue misadventure and illegal activities simply because they can, and this is reason enough for the Library to be watchful of the security risk posed by their IT systems. For a representation of the Library’s infrastructure with regard to (threats to) security, see Exhibit 1.
IT Infrastructure – Diversity and Internet Our interviews and internal document analysis indicate the library has been on the cutting edge of technology and service offerings on campus. The internet has been a positive force behind the library’s backing of technological initiatives. We also see that the library has a somewhat diverse, but not diverse enough, IT environment to protect from malicious attack or from service outages. In terms of the internet’s impact on how the library reaches out to its clients, and what services are offered to those clients we see almost a leap in what services the library is capable of
providing its clients, and thus aiding in the university’s goal of attaining 15,000 students by the year 2010. There are several examples on how the internet positively enhanced the library’s offering and how it continues to provide that edge that clients are looking for in an academic library. First we look at what was done in the past. The internet made it possible to move from a Dewey decimal system card catalog to an online catalog of books that is accessible 24/7. This catalog allows customers to see what books are available in the library, see what books they have checked out and manage their accounts. The internet also facilitated the move from paper journals that only one person at a time could read, to electronic journals that are not only searchable, you can also have many concurrent users enabling a higher level of collaboration between researchers with similar interests. Today, the internet still fuels the electronic expansion of library services. The library is planning on offering new and innovative services that will use the internet as their delivery platform. Two examples of such services are Apreso and MDID. Apreso allows a user to capture audio-visual data from a presentation or lecture that they are hosting, and then automatically converts that captured data into a format that can be streamed over the internet for on-demand availability. This way, if someone misses a training session in an Apreso classroom, they can go online to view this presentation at their own convenience. This project is almost complete. MDID is another innovative project using open source software. MDID allows users to access databases such as ArtStor that contain images for teaching, and it allows users to upload their own images, sort of like how flickr works. These images can then be put into a slide show, zoomed in and out, and be used for both classroom and collegial presentations. The underlying mechanism for which both of these projects are delivered is the internet.
Secondly we have the topic of diversity of infrastructure. In terms of infrastructure, the Library works to some level with the department of IT on campus to accomplish its goals and to obtain access to the infrastructure which enables it to operate. Currently IT is only partnering with the library for the wired and wireless networks that exist in the library. Hardware and software that the library runs is independently owned and operated by the library. This however is a changing trend since IT and the Library have started to view each other in a less adversarial way and have started to view each other as partners in support of the university end user (students, staff and faculty). Having said that, when it comes to infrastructure, the library is not a very diverse environment. The Library owns and operates a multimedia room with computers and audio visual equipment, several floors of public use computers, and a server room. All of the computers that the library owns and operates are Dell branded PCs with Microsoft Windows XP. There are no Macs supported in the library, and as a policy the library stays away from environments other than windows. This is not an ideal situation because the research needs of the UMass Boston community might go beyond Windows computers, and the library is not equipped to handle such an event. Furthermore, when looking at the servers that the library owns, in addition to most servers running Windows, there is no redundancy. If someone launches a DoS attack1 and takes down the main server, this means that printing and remote access to library resources go down. If such an event happens, there is no automatic email or text message dispatched to the person responsible for maintenance of those servers, thus the problem goes unnoticed until someone tries to connect to valuable library resources and those resources are not accessible.
See link for detailed description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial-of-service_attack 18
Managing IT Projects It has been clearly demonstrated that IT is a major component of the Library’s vision and strategy. During our study of the Library and our interview with a prominent personality from IT and Library systems group, we had noticed that several IT projects which had great vision were started in good endeavor, but never were successfully implemented. Some of the reasons include, lack of personnel, technical staff, funds and other support from different divisions of the university. We have prepared a list of things to do for effective project management. Following this list not only ensures that the project gets successfully implemented, but also sustains and has the chance of optimizing operations over a period of time. 1. Hiring of the right personnel: IT projects historically have a negative reputation for being over budget, late, and poorly implemented. Having a professional individual in charge of the project can add great organization and credibility to your efforts. If your project is of a size where a project manager role can be used, go for it. Example: In the case of the library, this never happened, there was never a designated project manager and the systems group was at most 3-4 people strong. To be specific, these particular issues made the Apreso Project stall. It took about 6 months to implement. To give a comparison, with the proper personnel, this would have taken a month to implement in a private sector company. 2. Identifying leadership roles: Having individuals responsible for specifics metrics of the project is important. This should be done in a way that puts capable individuals in roles that are best suited for their talents but doesn't overwhelm individual team members. IT projects often put too much emphasis on the technical contributions of a small number of
individuals—or even just one person—and effectiveness is limited when these resources are maximized during the project cycle. In our case, there have been several cases, when one or two people from the systems group of the library have been given this responsibility. These staff though capable, had been given additional responsibility apart from their daily IT operational duties. Example: The systems group at the library never had clear cut documentation or responsibilities previously and this caused projects to be delayed in implementing. In the Apreso project, there was no project management in any capacity, no goals other than the end product were clear cut, the project went ahead without proper consideration for funding and planning never went beyond people’s responsibilities, job descriptions.
3. Scope Management: Scope management is one of the most important aspects of IT projects, and it's the team’s responsibility to make sure that any scope changes are introduced in the correct forum. The project process should include procedures for making a scope change proposal. It's also important to ensure that the official mechanism for project documentation maintains robust revision control, because scope can change functionality requirements and thus change the documentation that accompanies a project. Having a clear scope helps in achieving targets on time and due to various reasons including personnel management and budgeting, in the past, this was never the case at the library.
Example: This was a problem with software purchases. The attitude that “prevalent systems always would take care of issues” was existent. Because of the staff turnover, no one’s job description states or addresses this issue. 4. Create and stick to Project Specifications: Having the project clearly defined can pave the way for all subsequent aspects of the project to be implemented correctly. A welldefined project definition and corresponding processes gives the project a strong foundation. The project definition will define an agreed-upon performance baseline, costs, efforts required, expected functionality, implementation requirements, and customer requirements, and it identifies the individuals and organizations involved in the project. Even though the library has started off in the right path and had a strategy document in place, due to the lack of proper project management, the scopes kept changing, the focus and direction of the implementation changed and due to political reasons and lack of support from other departments like IT, this was never clearly acted upon. Example: This could be clearly seen in the implementation of “Learning Commons” project. This was initially planned as a joint project with the Library and IT. With a non-existent project management, both the library and IT focused on other projects and this was never implemented the way it was envisioned. 5. Risk Identification: Each element of risk—resources, schedule, performance, cost, etc. —should have assessments performed. These tasks are usually delegated to the project manager or individual most closely associated with that role. Periodic risk assessments and tracking are due diligence of the project process.
When the library did formulate their strategic plan, they did not consider other factors like lack of co-operation with IT or other factors around the university which might hinder the progress of the plan. Example: This non co-operation issue never came up to discussion, when the plan was being formulated, people were not assigned specific duties and due importance was not given to the implementation of “Learning Commons”. Common business practice is having particular tasks assigned to particular individuals with deadlines in place; otherwise, there is a great chance that the project will not be on schedule. 6. Manage relationships with external parties: This is one of the factors, where our library project has faced problems in the past. Due to the unclear scope of collaboration with IT at UMB, the process has often been delayed or reached a deadlock in the past. Before the project, no matter how big or small in magnitude, it should be clearly stated as to how much IT would involve itself, in case of collaborative teams. Other consultants, business partners, service providers and vendors need to be kept in mind when these decisions are taken. If these issues are addressed before the start of the project, there is a greater chance of getting the plan implemented in time. In our interview with an IT director who has been a part of the systems group in the past, we came to know of the lack of co-operation between the systems group in the library and IT. At present, the situation is better than before, but the relationship still needs to be improved. Establishing a collaborative team should go a long in solving this issue. Example: There was no software synergy between systems group and IT. When the library wanted to run their own servers on Sun Solaris machines, they did not get any
help from the IT department, because of lack of personnel with that particular skill set. After a long delay, the Library systems group went ahead with their own implementation. 7. Maintain Strong Documentation: Documentation is the key to a successful IT project, especially when changes need to be made after implementation. New members can assimilate information more easily, future works related to this effort are more easily started and functionality changes are easier to stage or test. Example: Documentation at the library is either outdated (more than 2 years) or nonexistent. Of late, they have however been creating new documents and updating older documentation.
8. Cost Analysis: An in-detailed study should be made before the project is being implemented. It is among the most important aspects of the project process. Each project member should be aware of the costs associated with his or her aspects of the project. This also becomes important if it's determined that the scope of a project should be changed. Example: In the case of the Apreso project, the person who wrote the grant proposal did not consult anyone, so an inadequate amount of funds was appropriated for the project.
Organization and Leadership of IT the function The combination of leadership with management leads to success because the vision and strategy is backed up with the planning, budgeting, and operations to see the vision achieved. Management is the traditional form within an organization that helps provide an
infrastructure in finance, operations, technology, and administration. The management team backs up the vision and strategy implemented by the CEO. The new school of leadership includes the vision, strategy, communications, and empowerment which allow the entire company to participate in its growth and development. Leadership skills are acquired over a lifetime by gaining knowledge and sharing it to enhance the organization’s full potential. The vision of the leader defines a common direction and not static, is a realistic destination projected into the future, incorporates the desired result, addresses all critical issues at that time, considers constraints, understands the range of possible outcomes and is based on foresight, insight, experience, imagination, information, and values. The vision of the leader should go hand in hand with the management’s strategy for it to have any chance of being successfully implemented. Strategists rely on careful analysis of the competition to find a way to make their product or service succeed. A strategy is creative and intuitive. By taking different points of view on the customer, competition, and the company, and combining those aspects with a healthy dose of creativity and intuition, a strategy can be achieved. A business strategy refers to the plan to achieve a competitive advantage. When a leader communicates the vision, everyone will know what the organization is striving for and what the definition of success is. Communication is paramount. As Jim Broadhead 1, the CEO of Florida Power and Light said, "It’s virtually impossible to communicate too much. I’ve never heard a single employee anywhere complain that he or she is being kept too informed."
Once the vision is established, the management team can work with the CEO to develop a plan to reach the target. This could take many forms such as the business, marketing, or operational plan. The plan sets a course to lead the organization to the vision and strategy developed by the CEO. Strategic partnerships are developed to broaden the range of experience the company can provide. This brings us to the next important stage, it is budgeting. Budgeting refers to the quantifying of the plan. It is working with a profit and loss statement to determine whether the income of the business will offset the associated expenses.
http://www.worktracks.com/management3.htm The organizations which have high success rate in implementing strategies and vision,
have flat hierarchies, little bureaucracy, a tolerance for risk taking, and a workforce that can manage itself. This frees up leadership to focus on client projects, development of technology, and customer service. Following effective project management methods can thus ensure that the project can be put into action.
At this juncture of our analysis, we have identified three alternative strategies to the problem statement. Each strategy addresses the advantages and/or disadvantages of the following components of analysis: 1. the level of cooperation between the Library and IT a. for applications purchase/use/support b. for stand-alone projects 2. the level of service provided to the Library, by IT a. in the current climate b. on an as needed, or ongoing basis 3. funding mechanisms and structure 4. organizational structure 5. non-IT policies which affect IT
Alternative Strategy 1: Status Quo The library can go multiple routes and one of the alternate strategies that they could implement is to not change anything and continue with the current setup and process as is. Each institution will continue to operate as a separate entity with minimal collaboration. The level of cooperation between both institutions as well provision of service to the Library by IT remains the same. In this strategy, IT’s involvement is minimal and does not provide full level service to the Library but will however be available to help the Library especially in times of critical emergencies. A typical example was when the Library’s network was nearly compromised by
hackers, IT was called upon to assist in researching and investigating this issue, as well as put in some additional security features to stop the activities of the hackers. Furthermore, the library will continue to manage their resources and labs and also continue to source and purchase new software applications on their own with minimal input from IT. However management of their data center and servers will in December become the responsibility of IT. Furthermore, in order to achieve the goal of improving capacity of and access to technical infrastructures on and off campus, the Library would need to continue to supplement the IT funds allocated to them with their own funds that they generate from areas such as grants and donations from individuals as well as institutions and then use some of it to purchase additional laptops with wireless access to supplement and increase their inventory for the laptop loan program, PDA’s, Nextel phones and pagers for their technical staff as well as support other initiatives such as MDID2 and “CAB3”. Additionally in this strategy , the Library will continue to manage all their technology related projects, from our initial analysis above we see that the Library has always lead in providing innovative and increasing access to resources both on and off campus, this has happened with minimal involvement from IT and thus this strategy recommends that they continue along this path. Since IT’s involvement in the affairs of the Library are minimal, thus organizational changes in IT will have little effect on this alternative strategy, and additionally there aren’t any non IT policies that can affect IT in this strategy. There are a couple of advantages to this strategy; first and foremost this strategy makes the Library more of an independent entity. Especially as decisions concerning projects begin and end with the Library. By going this route the Library becomes more involved in all of its
See link for more information: http://mdid.org/mdidwiki/index.php?title=Main_Page Acronym the library is using for Captivate, Apreso, Breeze technologies employed for producing educational tutorials 27
operations, technology related projects and daily service issues. Furthermore, as a result of more hands on experience, there is also the potential of increasing knowledge, analytical skills capability and expertise for the Library technical staff when handling issues on a daily basis. Senior management of the Library will also have the added advantage of having the capability to negotiate vendor contracts that would favor the Library and as such would not have to worry too much about IT as a stakeholder. However following this strategy has some negative impact. Since both the Library and IT operates as separate entities, during contract negotiations with potential and even current vendors, they will continue to miss the savings that would have resulted from volume pricing. Additionally, with minimal involvement from IT, limited technical expertise is available and thus there are very limited opportunities for knowledge sharing and transfer especially from IT personnel to the Library staff to take place. If both the Library and IT continue to exist as separate entities and thus negotiate and purchase software applications from vendors separately, there will come a time when integrating all these applications will become paramount so as to increase cost savings. Finding a solution that will successfully integrate the multiple platforms will be a serious challenge.
Alternative Strategy 2: IT takes over and manages the Library’s IT assets The second strategic alternative is for the library to offload all of their IT operations to the IT group. This alternative is appealing because the library would get divest all of their non core functions that someone else, like IT’s educational technology (EdTech) division might perform in a better fashion. This will leave the library free to focus on what they do best. There
are of course problems with this approach. The two main problems are human resource and reputation implications. Under this plan the library would offload their IT functions, functions that are not core to a library, to IT. This transfer of responsibility would have three components: Servers4, Desktops5, and Support6. Servers would be taken over by the IT Infrastructure group, Desktops would be taken over by the IT EdTech division, and Support would be taken over by IT Client Services. Some of this is already taking place, so a further divestiture would only be a natural extension. The first phrase, and probably the most complex, is already in the beginning phases right now: Moving the physical infrastructure of the library. Currently there is a plan to move all of the library’s production servers to a more secure environment with better climate control. The University is plagued by power failures and the library does not have a room that has a backup power supply for long-term power outages. The new IT datacenter does however have provisions for power, and they have a clean, dust-proof and climate-controlled environment that is ideal for servers. Our plan would take this one step further. Under our plan, IT would also take care of the backup, running and maintenance of machines and services in the datacenter. IT would be responsible to maintain a three-nines-service level to the library and by extension to the university’s customers. In essence, IT would become an application services provider for the library. The library IT group would manage such things as their own network forest, users on their network, they would provide database management expertise in regards to the electronic
Servers include: Library OPAC, Domain Controller and Backup Controller, Public Disk Storage, ListServs, and Document Delivery, Databases (10 Servers). 5 Public Workstations located on the 2nd, 4th,5th,6th, and 8th floors (100 count). Library Staff Workstations (30 count), Public Use Laptops (25 count) 6 Support for all workstations, computers and Services (e.g. “Help Desk”) 29
catalog, and they would manage the disk quota levels mandated by IT. Any new services that the library will need, they will need to make a request to IT in order to receive any new services. The second level of divestiture is the divesting of the management of public computers in the library and the technology enhanced classroom that the library owns on the 4th floor (the CLI). This would be the second most difficult task, but it is not an unattainable goal. As with the moving of the servers, here too there will be a change in who is responsible for certain physical resources and services provided. Under this phase of the transfer the management of public computers in the library would fall under the EdTech (computer lab) authority. They would be responsible for the upgrade, maintenance and troubleshooting of these computers. The CLI would fall under the jurisdiction of Media Services (IT Infrastructure) for training, support and maintenance of the facility. This will ensure that the library has consistent service levels across the building because the resources will be managed by one entity. Finally, the last change for proposal is the dismantling of the “library help desk” and the consolidation of functions with the IT help desk. Currently, the library maintains its own help desk where library staff and customers call to resolve technical problems. This is quite unnecessary since most problems deal with things that the library help desk has no control over. These problems are network connectivity problems, DNS resolving problems, email access problems and so on. These problems are handled though the IT, they are the purveyors of infrastructure on campus, and they are the ones that resolve these issues. The library help desk at the moment is acting as an intermediary, which does not help resolve problems. There are many good things about this proposed course of action. By following this strategic alternative, the library will focus on its core competencies, they will not need to worry about technology related funds, and they will not need to worry about infrastructure problems. A
good service-level-agreement between IT and the library will provide the foundations for a good working relationship between the two entities, and it will establish what it expected by each party. The main advantage of this approach is that the library focuses only on its core competencies. Libraries are information driven institutions, and as such have core competencies that reflect this. Libraries and librarians are good at locating information, knowing where to look for information that is relevant and credible, and they know how to structure information. This is a core competence that is convoluted when the library is also trying to run their own computing areas, wireless networks, and teaching classrooms. If IT took over the physical infrastructure, the library as an entity would be able to focus on information retrieval and delivery, instead of focusing on their internal infrastructure. This is an advantage that no one can undervalue, because an academic library that can focus on its core competency is of greater value not only to the institution, but also to the clients. This approach is not bulletproof however. There are three main issues at hand: customer perceptions of what is the library, perceived loss of control by the library and human resources hurdles that need to be overcome. These problems need to be addressed in order for this plan to be completely successful. First, we have customer perceptions of what the library is. When customers walk into the library, they are blissfully ignorant that there are several entities within the library building that provide services. Even if one considers only the second through the eighth floors, you still have two entities: the library and IT EdTech. If you consider the library building as a whole, you have the library, IT EdTech, IT Infrastructure, Art, and the McCormack Institute to name just a few. If IT takes over the library’s physical computing assets, and the library just provides library related
services, there will be an increase in the number of things that the library receives critique about, but they have no jurisdiction to go in and make improvements. Many customers associate most services in the library building to be owned and operated by the library – something that is not a reality today and it will become less of a reality if IT takes over. Another problem with this approach is the perceived loss of power by the library. As we’ve mentioned before, through our interviews we discovered that in the past the library-IT relationships were not very amicable. IT had a hands-off approach. Despite the fact that IT is working on changing this reality in order to become a department that serves the community’s needs, the library still has a sour taste based on their previous experiences. To the library the days where one submitted a request to IT and it took them three to six months to be taken care of are not that far behind them. Coupling this with the fact many customers believe that services within the library-building fall under library jurisdiction – the situation causes stress to the library administration and staff. Finally, there is a minor human resource related hurdle that needs to be overcome. The library currently has an IT department. Should IT take over the library’s physical resources, the department will need to be divested and retooled. There are currently two positions that would migrate to report to IT: a position of a Network Manager and a position of a Support Specialist. This would leave the department with only one person: the assistant director. The library would need to hire new staff, such as a librarian database manager and an instructional technology specialist in order to be fully capable of turning its focus from physical maintenance to digital asset management and education - two of the library’s core competencies. This process will involve Human Resources, the Union that these two “traded” employees belong to, and the Financing authority of the University to allow the creation of two additional
positions for the library. This process can take a very long time to accomplish and would most likely cause additional strain on a department (Healey Library Systems) that is already running at full capacity.
Alternative Strategy 3: The Library assumes IT services which complement their own The third strategic alternative that the Healey Library has is to continue to collaborate with UMB IT for infrastructure and core application needs. Infrastructure in this case would include the core wired and wireless network, server space and processing power and the ability to participate in group buy markets such as U$ave7 and REPLACE8 in order to lower the price of products and services that the library purchases. The library today, with the initiative to move the library’s servers to the UMB IT server room showcases a step in this direction. The library can leverage IT’s 24/7 support, knowledgeable personnel, and it can be assured that their services are running on a three nines efficiency level. These services will be hosted on a secure and climate controlled room that has backup power, in case main power goes down – a phenomenon common to UMass Boston. Additionally it can be assured that library applications, such as the Online Catalog, are securely backed up in case of an unforeseeable catastrophic failure. All of the above steps are a major improvement on how the library does business today. In addition to continuing with the IT collaboration in terms of infrastructure, the library should acquire the Educational Technology (“EdTech9”) division of IT. The EdTech division controls the academic computer labs, distance education and media services. In addition to
See link for more info: http://www.umb.edu/it/hwsw/usave.html http://www.umb.edu/it/hwsw/replace.html 9 http://www.umb.edu/it/tech/index.html 33
managing these departments, the EdTech divisions also provide training and consultation services to students, staff and faculty, client groups common to the Healey Library as well. There are precedents for this of course, many academic libraries have either taken over EdTech divisions in their schools, or have started and maintained EdTech divisions in their schools. There are positive reasons why the library should go this route, as well as reasons why the library might not want to go this route. In a nutshell, the pros are that all services that will be undertaken by the library are peripheral to their core activities. The cons on the other hand are all human resource related. The positives of this approach are for the university and the library to offer better and more consistent access to resources for their customers, which in the end is our ultimate goal. As we’ve mentioned before, this is not a unique idea, other academic libraries have already taken steps in this direction. Two examples are UMass Lowell10 where Media Services, part of EdTech as UMass Boston, is part of the library. At the University of Chicago11, we see that the library not only has Media Services, but they also have academic computer labs and control of technology enhanced classrooms throughout campus, in essence extending the library beyond the library building. This extended presence of the library throughout campus is beneficial to both the library and to their customer groups. Customers are able to access library resources beyond the library building, and are able to get assistance with library related questions, such as “what journals are good for research in teenage obesity?” Additionally, the library controls content from end to end, providing the customer with a 360-degree experience. If a customer for instance wants to borrow a film and view it in class at UMB, they need to get the film at the library, schedule a room, and
http://library.uml.edu/media/ http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/using/services.html 34
then deal with Media Services in order to actually play the film back. Under this new model, the library will have not only possess the film, but also the ability to play that film back, so a customer does not need to interface with two or three people to accomplish a goal. This control of the end-to-end experience can not only yield greater convenience, but also better quality in the services and the content provided. Finally, the last reason why the library might want to take this approach is that it lowers the barrier to offering new and innovative services. There are many examples in the last six-toeight months where the library and IT has been working together, with various degrees of success, to provide improvement of and innovation of services! Two examples of these good and bad working relationships are the pay-for-print solution for the whole library, and uniformity of computing throughout the library building. The library has had a pay-for-print and pay-for-copy solution for at least the last eight years. Recently IT, looking back at their printing costs over the past six years, has decided that paying for printing is too expensive, and has therefore decided to go with a pay-for-print solution that is similar to the library’s solution. Because of the library’s previous experience, and because of the Learning Commons initiative, the library and IT decided to work together to implement this library-wide pay-for-print initiative. There are of course collaborative initiatives that are very one way, and these initiatives would benefit from having EdTech report to IT. An example of these initiatives again deals with the Learning Commons. The library decided that they wanted to offer the same software offerings as the IT computer labs. Several attempts were made to communicate with IT to, at the very least, get a list of software that is available in the computer labs so that the library can install them. No response was received from IT regarding this project, so the library did all the
footwork on their own to determine what was installed in the computer labs and to determine if it would be feasible to install these software on library public computers. While the library can get a bigger chunk of the technology fee budget by doing this, and while it might facilitate projects, there is one reason why the library might not want to go through with this particular plan. The reason is less a question of technology, and more a question human resources and core competencies. Should the library go with this option they will be taking on a department of over thirty full time employees distributed over six departments. The sudden influx of new staff and new reporting lines has large implications for the library. First, the library and IT cultures are very different. The library has a much decentralized structure. There are reporting lines, but collaborations between library departments and communications are more fluid. When you compare this to IT EdTech, reporting lines are rigid and most of everyone conforms to those reporting lines. If the library and EdTech merge, their current structures are not going to sustainable. The new library entity will need to move to a hybrid hierarchical/agile management model. (See Exhibit 5) Second, if one gets over the reporting structure issues, the library will face union related issues. Currently, the library has the lowest paid employees on campus as compared to employees at EdTech in both Classified and Professional Unions on campus. Should the library integrate EdTech as part of the library, there will need to be an administrative reclassification of library staff in order to get them on an equitable level with the recently integrated IT staff? This has the potential to stalemate operations in the library, if library management does not address these issues in a swift and fair way.
Finally, the library culture values individuals that have a Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) more than individuals that have other kinds of education, for example an MBA, despite the fact that the other degree is more applicable to the job they are doing. As a consequence, librarians, with an MLIS, tend to rise up the ranks of the library, while others do not. This might have worked well in a library that only circulated books, but in a new and evolving model, especially if this proposal goes into effect, this mentality and way of operating needs to change.
Among the strategies presented, Alternative Strategy 3 most elegantly resolves the problem statement. It is comprehensive in its treatment of the analysis components, responsive to the elements of the problem statement, and meets the feasible/plausible test. At its foundation, Alternative Strategy 3 [is in sync with the core competency of both the Library and IT.] The recommended strategy provides a value-added path to enhanced customer service and leverages its strengths to support ongoing and increased collaboration under the agreement. ‘Independence through collaboration’ is our interpretation of the mandate of the Master Plan, with regard to the strategic direction the Library should head. Our recommendation is that the Library pursues a more aggressive stance with regard to IT, and move to acquire an increased level of overall responsibility, especially within the functional realms of educational technology. Opportunities for enhanced collaboration with IT abound, particularly among the educational technology and media services overlap. Exhibit 5 provides a visual representation of the Library Organization following this recommendation.
CONCLUSION 1. Small intro to library IT 2. Conclusion from analysis – frameworks developed 3. What steps should be taken to make #3 a reality a. Considerations for change b. Stakeholders & Interests 4. Checks & Balances
EXHIBITS Exhibit 1: Threats to Library IT Infrastructure
Exhibit 2: Project Benefits for Library Projects
Exhibit 3: Library Overall Product Positioning, Past, Present, Future
Exhibit 4: Project Risks for Library Projects
Exhibit 5: Library Organization Pre and Post Takeover (Strategy 3)
Exhibit 6: Value Chain for the Library
REFERENCES American Library Association. (2006). ALA Guidelines for Instruction Programs in Academic Libraries. Retrieved November 12, 2006, from http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlstandards/guidelinesinstruction.htm Applegate, L. M., Austin, R. D., & McFarlan, F. W. (2006). Corporate Information Strategy and Management (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Bharati, P. (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage Week 1 and 2 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net -- (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage - Week 3 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net -- (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage - Week 4 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net -- (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage - Week 5 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net -- (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage - Week 6 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net -- (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage - Week 7 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net -- (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage - Week 8 and 9 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net -- (2006). MBAMS 647: Management of IT for Quality of Competitive Advantage - Week 10 and 11 (slides). Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved http://boston.umassonline.net firstname.lastname@example.org. (2006). In Koutropoulos A., Franscisco Partners to acquire Endeavor Information Systems from Elsevier. Retrieved November 21, 2006. DiPaolo, J., Bostick, S., Baer, B., Okali, V., Day, M., & Ortiz, D., et al. (2005). Healey Library Goals and Objectives (Internal Document). Retrieved November 5, 2006. DiPaolo, J., Bostick, S., Baer, B., Okali, V., Day, M., & Ortiz, D., et al. (2003). Strategic Plan Draft 9 25 03 (Internal Document). Retrieved November 5, 2006. DiPaolo, J., Bostick, S., Baer, B., Okali, V., Day, M., & Ortiz, D. et al. (2000). Healey Library Strategic Plan. Boston, MA: UMass Boston. Hart, G. (2006). Video Capture and Delivery of Web-based Library Research Instruction Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved April 01, 2006. Hart, G. (2006). (Presentation) Evolving Service Modile of Research-Outreach-Instruction.
Unpublished PowerPoint. Retrieved November 22, 2006. Hitt, M. A., Hoskisson, R. E., & Ireland, R. D. (Eds.). (2006). Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases (7th ed.). California: South-Western College Publishing. Koutropoulos, A. (2006). Project Proposal for Archiving & Accessing Old Syllabi. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved March 01, 2006. -- (2006). Project Proposal for CLI Improvement. Unpublished manuscript. -- (2006). Project Proposal for Learning Commons Space. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved March 01, 2006. -- (2006). Project Proposal for the Creation of a Second CLI. Unpublished manuscript. Marcum, J. W. (2003). Visions: The Academic Library in 2012.[Electronic version]. D-Lib, 9(5) Retrieved November 22, 2006, from http://www.dlib.org database. Mass Networks Education Partnership. (2002). 2003 Information Technology Master Plan No. 1). Boston, MA: Mass Networks Education Partners. September, 05, 2005. Porter, M. Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. New York, NY. The Free Press. 1985. UMass Boston - Human Resources. (2006). Classified Salary Table. Retrieved November 23, 2006, from http://www.umb.edu.eresources.lib.umb.edu/hr/compensation/class_salary_schedule.pdf UMass Boston - Human Resources. (2006). Professional Salary Table. Retrieved November 23, 2006, from http://www2.www.umb.edu.eresources.lib.umb.edu/human_resource/job/view_professiona l_salary_table.php UMass Boston - Human Resources. (2006). UMass Boston Employee Salaries (FY06-07). Retrieved November 23, 2006. Zucconi, T., Koutropoulos, A., Vaddi, B., Okogobenin, J., & Policar, A. (2006). In Zucconi T., Koutropoulos A., Vaddi B., Okogobenin J. and Policar A.(Eds.), Interview with Apurva Mehta, former director of Library Systems Zucconi, T., Vaddi, B., Okogobenin, J., & Policar, A. (2006). In Zucconi T., Vaddi B., Okogobenin J. and Policar A.(Eds.), Interview with Apostolos Koutropoulos: Current Support Specialist for Library Systems
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.