So you’ve built the business and technology foundation for your Higher Ed IT Transformation program using the outline from our first blog and now you’re ready for the next step. In Phase II, we’ll determine which business and technical “levers” are available to improve results; where changes can be made to achieve the program goals.

This is where the team does some analytical heavy lifting to coax out areas of opportunity. So get ready to:

  1. Isolate technology components supporting your key processes
  2. Analyze costs
  3. Evaluate levels of technology performance, complexity, and maturity
  4. Assess risk in the technology platform
  5. Synthesize this information to expose the levers

Following this outline, we start by determining which technology components matter. We can use a simple matrix to “map” our technology stack to each process we’re working to improve. In the example below, rows represent the selected processes and columns highlight related IT assets.

map of technology stack

Now that we have established which IT assets relate directly to our change program, we will do some cost analysis. Start by determining your total cost for IT assets. “Don’t try this at home” applies here; get the support of a Finance department team member to nail this down. Use the reference architecture from Phase I, and break out fixed and variable costs by technology component. Gain insight as to how these costs vary with changes, such as increased number of users, adjustment to its functionality, or outright replacement. This information will help us understand the cost impact of technology service level changes and provide important input to our business case.

But how well are the current technology components doing their jobs? The team will now evaluate selected applications and infrastructure from the perspective of performance, complexity, and maturity. Performance will show the speed and responsiveness of the platform, and will be gauged by benchmarks and user feedback. Since Rube Goldberg platforms COST, the team will also analyze the stack to identify complexity outliers; great candidates for modification or replacement. Several tools exist to support this type of analysis, such as Micro Focus Enterprise Analyzer and Relativity’s Modernization Workbench.

It’s also valuable to rank technology maturity levels to spot gaps in functionality and performance. We suggest a ranking strategy across three-levels. The data will come from selective user interviews. As part of this survey, keep an eye out for components nearing the end of their maintenance agreement or nearing obsolescence. Again, the goal is to identify gaps and outliers; spot the performance inhibitors as well as identify performance gain opportunities. Here’s a template that works well:

template to identify gaps and outliers

Of course, this approach assumes some preparation to develop questionnaires as well as tools for recording and normalizing the data (support from a smart consulting team like Systems Alliance is advised – pardon the shameless self-promotion). 

University IT teams face sky-rocketing user demand for on-line access supporting learning management, student information, research tools, and numerous other systems.  High accessibility is now table stakes. That’s why we include a risk health check in the transformation plan. For each in-scope process, the team is advised to review the process and tools securing data, preventing unauthorized intrusion, and enabling BC/recovery processes. Pervasive use of mobile devices demands immediate attention, especially with the broad adoption of BYOD strategies. Security for mobile environments can be enhanced using tools like Symantec’s Nukona.  

Once these steps are complete, the team is ready to synthesize and draw informed conclusions that will determine the road ahead. Conducting this synthesis is more art than science; but IT Higher Ed teams are well equipped for this type of reflective and collaborative evaluation. With this synthesis in hand, the IT team may now remove the propeller caps and pick up the crystal balls. The next step of Higher Ed IT Transformation, and the subject of coming blog #3, is the “Envision” phase. Stay tuned…