In anticipation of Loyola’s forthcoming strategic plan, IT Leadership wanted to ensure that Technology Services was positioned and organized properly to accommodate the demands of that plan. So, in late 2015 we began a journey to find ways to improve the relationship between technology services and the user community, as well as the overall performance of the technology function. We embarked upon an initiative to transform our organization to better meet the needs of Loyola University Maryland now and into the future. The overarching objective of this transformation was and is to take the Technology Services to a new level of performance and maturity.
How was this done?
Loyola enlisted the help of Hartman Executive Advisors who conducted a full audit of Technology Services. This included an intense analysis of our organization, financials, systems, processes and policies as well as a series of 28 interviews with the University’s Vice Presidents and departments across campus. Once they gathered the data, Hartman prepared a detailed report with their findings and recommendations. IT Leadership reviewed the report and decided the changes were substantial enough to enlist Hartman’s help on implementation of a transformation.
So, what’s the plan?
IT Leadership and Hartman developed an improvement plan based on feedback from end-users, leadership, vendors and findings in the IT Assessment. IT Leadership and the consultants met individually with each VP and their leadership team to introduce and discuss the Transformation plan in detail. During this process, they gathered functional area input and reaction to the plan: The plan intends to create more effective end-user to IT relationships, a functionally focused and agile IT organization, modernize our ERP technology, and improve project execution and visibility.
The new IT model focuses on the following areas:
Most of the changes, relative to our present organizational structure are in the areas of: Enterprise Applications (EA), the Project Management Office (PMO) and IT Finance.
The changes intend to create stronger relationships with the user community. This will be accomplished by embedding dedicated Technology Services EA staff within the various business units across the University. These TS staff members will learn the business operations and processes of the functional areas. In addition, they will act as a liaison between the users and Technology Services and provide clear lines of accountability within the IT department. The blue box in the Federated Pillar Model shown below represents the Technology Services staff member who will be embedded with departmental technology experts, functional managers and leaders.The full Federated Matrix Model is shown below with all EA positions shown in blue:
The Enterprise Applications team is responsible for all of Loyola’s system applications including Colleague, our enterprise software system; Moodle, our learning management system; Slate, our recruiting system; our websites and many others. To better focus our resources, the applications area will be structured on four major functional areas which we will call “pillars”: 1) Web/CRM, 2) Teaching and Learning, 3) Finance/HR and 4) Architecture. The first three pillars are each aligned with a set of University departments. Assigned Technology Services staff will work closely with these departments for all their operational and strategic technology needs. The fourth pillar, Architecture, is an internal IT team that supports the other three pillars by providing integration, development and architecture capabilities. Although Architecture is heavily involved in the technical aspects of our platforms, they will strive to interact directly with the user community to understand administrative, student and faculty needs.
Nicole Jones leads our Web/CRM pillar. Nicole has been an instrumental contributor and has created very strong relationships with the Enrollment and Marcomm communities. The Web/CRM pillar focuses on supporting the Marcomm, Enrollment and Advancement functions. Candice Zhu is part of Nicole’s team, dedicated to the Web (Marcomm) function. Another key contributor to Nicole’s team is Matt Brancheau who supports Advancement. Nicole will directly support Enrollment until a person has been hired to fill that position.
We are actively recruiting for a newly-created leadership position in the Teaching and Learning pillar which will support Student Information Services (SIS), Digital Pedagogy, and Faculty Development (Rank & Tenure and Scholarship). This team will consist of Tracy McMahon and Helen Aberle. Tracy McMahon is a recognized leader that has created strong ties with the faculty community and has a deep understanding of pedagogy and technology. Tracy has a dual leadership role in Digital Pedagogy and Faculty Development. Helen Aberle leads the Student Information System (SIS) function.
The Finance/HR pillar is led by Bernie Maygers. Bernie is acknowledged for his skill and passion in serving Loyola University. In his new role, he will support the Finance and HR communities in addressing their technology needs.
The Architecture pillar is led by Randy Wallace. Randy has been a key contributor in the past few years and is a recognized leader within Technology Services. Randy will lead with some of our best talent that includes Christian Warner, Artnette Spencer and Dave Skica.
A new Technology Services leadership position, the Enterprise Applications Executive Director, has been created. This person will be responsible for managing these four pillar functions. This will allow us to place a renewed focus on this critical function and provide more support to the outstanding team we already have in place that includes Bernie Maygers, Nicole Jones, Tracy McMahon and Randy Wallace.
The PMO will continue to operate under the guidance of Rich Sigler. However, hereafter, the PMO will focus exclusively on project execution (on time and on budget.) A lot of effort has been placed in clearly defining what is a “project” that requires a Project Management structure, and what are smaller “initiatives” that are better implemented directly by users and IT pillar functions. The PMO is responsible for maintaining a group of effective project managers that run projects. In addition, it will support a portfolio process that keeps the user community informed of the “health” of ongoing projects and facilitating (but not deciding) the discussion of which projects should be executed.
The PMO is responsible for maintaining a group of effective project managers that run projects, and support a portfolio process to keep the user community informed on the status of each of the projects including their ongoing “health.” Finally, the PMO will facilitate discussions regarding project proposal selection, not making decisions themselves.
We are strengthening our IT Finance function, which will manage all aspects of IT procurement, IT financials, and budgeting. Gina Graffious leads this function with John Hayes and Anthony Forte as part of her team.
Security and Compliance
This function continues to be managed by Patricia Malek. Chris Tjondro has joined Patricia’s team as a security analyst.
Infrastructure, Networking and Operations
This function continues under the leadership of Tom Podles. Tom’s accomplishments at Loyola University are impressive. We continue to rely on him to support our infrastructure needs and lead us in the Transformation as we adopt new approaches for a modern technology footprint.
Client Services continues under the leadership of Pat Donohue who has demonstrated a tremendous dedication to satisfying our user communities’ service needs.
The work completed during the last few months also includes the introduction of new technologies such as Colleague in the Cloud, Office 365, an innovative recruiting system called Slate, and new Voice over IP technology. With these changes, we intend to continue this improvement journey with a very close alignment with our user community.
Platforms & Architecture – moving to the Cloud
A multi-year roadmap was developed that will move the entire ERP platform and the systems most closely associated with it into the cloud, along with many other systems over the coming years.
Loyola University runs Ellucian Colleague as our ERP or “system of record” for multiple business functions. This includes student records, human resources, finance, advancement and more. Currently, our system is running on a legacy database, Unidata which is an environment that our staff operates and maintains in an onsite data center. While there are advantages to this model, it is important that Loyola embrace new technology that will meet the changing demands of higher education. In the 1st quarter of 2017, we will move the Colleague platform into the cloud. We will also begin preparations for a database conversion from Unidata to SQL and reporting conversion from Informer to SAP Business Objects.
Migrating from Unidata to SQL will allow us to modernize our backend database. Ultimately, we will see multiple benefits such as better protections for our data, business intelligence/reporting, that will set the stage for future business processes and cost savings.
What’s the Cloud and why is Loyola using it?
Cloud computing and storage solutions will allow Loyola the ability to store and process our data in offsite third-party data centers. There are a number of reasons to do this:
- Total cost reduction
- Shift from IT-centric to user-centric computing
- Disaster recovery
- Improved performance
- Improved student experience
- Reduction in technical debt (removing the complexity, request backlogs and risk)
- Improved speed to implement new services
So, what’s the phased plan?
Phase 1: Spring 2017
Migrate our current Colleague system, on the Unidata environment, to Ellucian/Application Hosting Services in the Amazon cloud.
Concurrent with Phase 1, our team and multiple University business units will work with Ellucian to convert existing Informer reports to our new reporting platform, SAP Business Objects in preparation for the database conversion.
Phase 2: Summer 2017
Convert our ERP database to SQL. Ellucian will handle the heavy lifting for this, enabling our staff to focus on end-user needs. This positions Loyola for the future and the ability to take the next step, moving to Colleague SaaS, which will offer the best possible opportunity for Loyola to cut IT costs while remaining agile, stable and secure.
How will this benefit me and Loyola overall?
- Tighter alignment between Technology Services and the strategic goals of the organization.
- Dedicated Technology Services subject matter expertise personnel focused on Enrollment, Registration, Faculty, Digital Pedagogy and Advancement.
- Improved accountability, transparency and operational efficiencies.
- Overall reduced cost and risk for technology at Loyola.