Recommendation 6: IT and the Enterprise
The University of Maryland should develop and maintain plentiful information technology resources and develop (or acquire) and deploy (or arrange for) information systems, applications, and tools that enable the effective and efficient function of the university as an enterprise.
Action Item 6.1 - Financial/Lifecycle Model
Recognizing that legacy university enterprise information systems are based on outdated technologies, the university should accelerate their replacement. These systems should be made more robust and functional as they are modernized and replaced by newer, more readily supportable technologies. Representative users from the community should be involved in the selection and specification of such systems, assess their usability and functionality, and take leading roles in their implementation.
As legacy systems continue to age, resources needed to support, maintain, and enhance those systems become more scarce and costly. Preparatory steps must be taken to ensure continued maintenance of legacy systems, while preparing for their disposition and ultimate replacement. Some of these steps include documenting legacy systems, planning new architecture, etc. An investment lifecycle model should be applied to all systems to determine their position on the cost versus maturity curve overlaid with the risk tolerance attributed to the system. While the high cost of maintenance and replacement of legacy systems cannot be avoided completely, the university can better budget for and manage resources toward a well planned and executed program of legacy system replacement by taking a holistic approach to identification of legacy systems needing replacement and better planning for the lifecycle of all existing and new systems.
To maintain and modernize our software enterprise while adhering to a strong financial foundation, a model to evaluate and monitor our information system's financial and functional lifecycle will be developed. The model will allow for broad application, but contains enough critical information to effectively evaluate and track systems in an ongoing manner. To develop the model, the Division of IT will convene a committee composed of IT, financial, and functional representatives to address two primary areas: 1) Development of a system lifecycle evaluation model and 2) the collection and codifying of existing systems.
Update March 2014
Substantial progress has been made on the assessment and review of administrative computing systems including lifecycle and risks. A draft document to aid the Enterprise Systems Working Group's (created under Action Item 9.1) system assessment has been started. Staffing and support plans for current administrative systems have been developed.
Action Item 6.2 - Develop Scalable Standards
The Division of IT, in collaboration with the campus IT staff, should review the current standards where they exist and identify appropriate architectures and tools so that departmentally-based systems may integrate or scale up securely and successfully with the broader enterprise system environment.
Recognizing that there are information systems that are tangential to main enterprise systems, and that these systems perform critical and vital service in local environments, a common development framework is needed. While departmental systems may be viewed in the context of specific needs, if they are developed outside of maintainable and supportable architectures, their long term efficacy is in doubt and can impact the broader function of the university. Special purpose needs and demands for local units to develop to specific requirements of their programs will be considered in accomplishing this action item such that those needs are not adversely affected.
The Division of IT will collaborate with departmental IT units to identify current systems in development as well as software architectures and tools in use. The Enterprise Systems Governance Committee, or a new task force consisting of members from both the Division of IT and the departmental IT units, will review the catalog of architectures and tools, determine if they are meeting the current and long-term needs, compare with those currently supported by the Division of IT, and set standards. Disaster recovery, security, and long-term sustainability (of both the architectures and personnel available to support them) will also be considered. Upon completion of the review, the Division of IT will alter and enhance its support for the selected architectural standards and tools. This will include infrastructure and personnel, documentation, and identification of appropriate training resources. Finally, a schedule to periodically re-evaluate the standards and appropriate channels to communicate developments and updates will be created.
Update March 2014
A Division of IT internal dashboard has been created and contains detailed information on the existing software architectures and tools in use. This dashboard includes the inventory of enterprise software systems (both built and bought), their use, stakeholders, technology stack, age, lifecycle status, etc. A staffing artifact has been created to assist with determining long term sustainability based on personnel available to support the associated systems. The division is developing an information map of all managed systems indicating how information flows through the IT enterprise.
Action Item 6.3 - Data Analytics
The Division of IT, in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment and other large scale data consumers and analyst constituents on campus, should consider the current and future business intelligence needs and design and implement data analytics tools to best serve university and outside needs.
The university must significantly enhance the access to and delivery of information in support of decision making. Concerns about security, privacy, and disaster recovery should be balanced with the institution's need to function successfully. The environment should enable access to information without needing to understand complex technologies. Appropriate users should be able to extract information into documents, spreadsheets, or other usable forms and to all levels of personal computing/display devices (i.e., mobility enabled).
The Division of IT will collaborate with IRPA to determine what types of data requests would be most useful to the main constituents of the university starting with the president's office, provost's office, IRPA, comptroller, and Academic Affairs. A proof of concept project will be completed and include a few use cases to answer data-driven questions from each of the main constituents. A few reports/dashboards will be created that include both operational and trend data. A tool for consuming the information will be part of a proof of concept phase. The proof of concept will be analyzed based on ease-of-use of the BI artifacts (reports, dashboards, tools) and ability to answer university business queries as well as pedagogical ones. The results of the proof of concept will be examined to determine subsequent phases.
Update March 2014
IRPA, with the support of the Division of IT, has finished their initial evaluation of BI tools. This will replace their current Hyperion (Brio) tool, which is nearing end-of-life from the vendor. IRPA is currently working on the RFP, and the division is assisting. The overall BI Proof of Concept will be discussed in subsequent meetings of the Enterprise Systems Governance workgroup.
Action Item 6.4 - Pursue Open/Community Source Software
The Division of IT should champion the pursuit of open or community source software solutions for enterprise-level use and only pursue more expensive commercial offerings when there is sufficient value or functional advantage in doing so.
Limitations and risk (e.g., security, version control, release management) previously ascribed to open source software are being mitigated with governance structures like those including community source. Community source software development differs from traditional open source development in that communities of institutions are committing specific human resources toward an implementation, which not only fulfills enterprise-wide needs of the partnering institutions, but also may be implemented by other institutions once development is complete. Kuali is an example of a community source system development in which UMD has taken a leadership role. This enterprise resource planning (ERP) development initiative is being developed out of a number of lead institutions, including UMD, and when completed will include financial, student information, enrollment, and other modules to manage the major administrative functions of our or any university. A number of other disciplines within higher e ducation are being impacted by open source/community source, including learning technology software. As UMD systems are planned for replacement, given the vast human resources available (and needed for enterprise open source development), an evaluation should be considered of the factors (e.g., security, version management, support, etc.) in determining the viability of open source/community source as an alternative to commercial product implementation.
The Division of IT will recommend and implement open-source/community-source solutions. The principles of Borrow, Buy, Build will be followed and recommended to all units that are considering new systems.
Update March 2014
After a soft launch in mid-December, Kuali Financial System (KFS) went live in production January 6, 2014. The launch was a success, with limited technical issues which have been addressed. The Division of IT has assisted the comptroller's office with this effort and continues to provide help where needed. Currently, the project is evaluating long-term support options. The division is also assisting with the migration of software interfaces from the FRS systems to KFS. KFS is a community-source finance packaged developed by the Kuali Foundation, of which Maryland is a founding partner.
Action Item 6.5 - Document Management and Workflow
Enterprise information systems should include provision for centralized document management and facilitate online workflow. All new systems should strive wherever possible to eliminate manual/paper document handling and routing.
Currently, the university is using a 10-year-old document management system with limited workflow capability. Extensive market development in this area has made this a relatively low-cost technology to update with much enhanced flexibility in scanning, storing, retrieving, and archiving documents and forms, and also in applying intensive workflow and approval processes to such documents/forms. Implementation planning should be performed, with participation from all university academic and administrative units, to develop the business cases for this critical and ubiquitous need.
The Division of IT will collaborate with university constituents to gather strategic business needs for document management and online workflow. The document management steering committee (DIG) should proceed with implementing the recommendations from an outside vendor's comprehensive review of the system and strategic direction. The steering committee should develop a comprehensive plan to leverage the system's workflow capability to gain efficiencies in exchanging information within the university. The committee should develop a program to educate and onboard new departments in pursuit of achieving the university's strategic goal to become paperless. The steering committee and campus constituents should work more closely with the system's vendor to ensure the vendor's technology is being used properly and efficiently.
Update March 2014
Since October 2013, the enterprise document management system known as Optix has been under the purview of the Enrollment Services Office (ESO). Digital Imaging Group (DIG) and staff members from ESO will engage with university constituents to advance the document management system initiative. The Division of IT will continue to work with DIG and Enrollment Services as needed to help support current enterprise document management efforts.
Action Item 6.6 - Fostering Mobilization
Realizing the increasing dependence upon small mobile/smartphone integrated devices, key university information and processing systems must have mobile application support. Essentially, a user should be able to securely conduct all of their university enterprise activities from any device, anywhere, at any time.
Mobile devices continue to provide great flexibility and opportunity for consumers and present significant challenges to the IT support personnel who must accommodate their use. As IT departments strive to accommodate consumers with more keen understanding of technology, those consumers also want the flexibility to bring the latest personal device to work or school and use it to interface with UMD services and infrastructure. This phenomenon is known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and a by-product of this is that not only are there a myriad of devices being brought and inserted into the UMD network, there is an even greater number of platforms being run on those devices (e.g., iOS, Windows Mobile, Google's Android, Mac OSX, Windows OS, Linux, etc.), which we have dubbed Use Your Own Platform. While support becomes exceedingly more difficult as more device types and platforms become a part of the fabric, there is no question that expectations continue to be that services and applications at least have an interface geared toward mobile use. Therefore, mobile development should not be an afterthought in developing applications and their interfaces. Rather mobile interfaces should be given equal weight to traditional interface development. We should embrace responsive Web design in our sites and applications to enable the same content to be attractively rendered on any device or screen size.
Convene a committee to embrace bring your own device (BYOD) and understand the associated benefits and risks. Committee members should include students, business, IT, legal, and security stakeholders. Develop and document evaluation criteria that will be used to determine appropriateness of all mobile development activities. This discussion should include functional and technical considerations.
Update March 2014
No progress to date.
Action Item 6.7 - Task Force to Establish Governance Model to Leverage Strengths of Distributed Structure on Campus
Within the context of a leveraged support model and the creativity that often results from individual or departmental endeavors, mechanisms should be developed to examine these creations and determine if they may be more broadly leveraged across the university.
There exist examples of systems that grew out of local unit IT operations to be expanded into enterprise-wide systems. Encouraging and facilitating innovative local achievements must prevail with the knowledge and forethought that systems may be scaled up at a later time to meet the needs of a broader university constituency. Guidance, informed by discussions between central and local IT units, on local system development should be provided to help facilitate eventual scaling of systems to a broader audience. System development guidance and framework should be promulgated and adherence overseen through peer review to achieve uniformity in system development methodology and thereby allowing collaborative resource and knowledge sharing when development is occurring.
In order to encourage collaboration between units, a standard collaboration space (physical or virtual) should be considered, allowing for knowledge exchange about best practices and solutions sharing. In addition, periodic showcasing of projects success and new product offerings from the distributed groups would help ensure exposure of the best-of-breed ideas to the greater community as well as celebration of success.
Update March 2014
No progress to date. This will be discussed in subsequent meetings for the Enterprise Systems Governance workgroup.
Action Item 6.8 - Comprehensive Web Strategy
With increasing demand in many areas of the university for general Web content development, hosting, and administration, IT service providers on campus should collaborate on developing a strategy to readily achieve agile Web services to most broadly and effectively answer on-campus demands and those of specific departments, programs, and individuals. While not strictly a responsibility of the Division of IT, given the diverse and broad nature of this challenge, the division should provide the foundation and start-up leadership in developing such a strategy by quickly convening stakeholders.
Web content management needs continue to be in high demand from an individual level, through the groups and programs they represent, to their colleges and for the entire university. Because there exists this enterprise need and there is currently a general lack of basic Web content management skills and services available to serve the needs of the university, a comprehensive strategy, including hosting, development resources, governance, and maintenance, should be considered on a broad level, with current successful Web initiatives serving as a model for promulgation. Decisions regarding what competencies we wish to foster inhouse, what we feel is best left to third-party partners, and where we might be able to partner with peer institutions should be a primary topic of discussion in developing our strategy.
The Division of Information Technology will establish a service to assist university groups in creating or updating campus Web pages and hosting them. IT staff will assist the campus in meeting UMD design and accessibility standards, defining website development requirements, determining software and platform needs, providing Web vendor options, and developing RFP documents when contracting for Web development services with outside vendors.
Update March 2014
No substantial progress to date.