Some things never change; some things always do

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018! I hope you had a chance to relax with family and friends over the holidays, regenerate, and get ready for another remarkable year. Reflecting back on 2017, I am struck by the broad impact of the work we do. From the launch of Workday and the Integrated Service Center, to keeping our core systems operating, to major infrastructure upgrades to support UW researchers in their groundbreaking work, to significant enhancements in teaching and learning tools to help educate the next generation of leaders – UW-IT’s contributions to advancing the UW are far-reaching. I hope you’ve had a chance to read the stories in our 2017 Year in Partnerships report to see how your work is making a difference across the University.

As we begin a new year, I want to focus on strategy. While the technology solutions we offer are integral to transformational efforts across our institution – we simply can’t do everything for everyone. We need to be smart and strategic about where we invest. This has never been truer than now, with UW Finance Transformation on the horizon, and the need to balance so many competing priorities. In recognition of this imperative, the Senior Leadership Team has identified three top areas of strategic focus over the next year.

These areas of strategic focus are the outcome of several months of collaborative effort by the Senior Leadership Team and are driven by what is best for the University. They are an essential part of our Strategy Management practice, which will continue to provide the strategic framework for our organization. This practice, launched in 2016, aims to create a living strategy that engages staff across our organization, is linked directly to business goals, ensures alignment of our diverse portfolio of projects and services, and adapts and changes with our dynamic environment. Many of you have worked hard on creating Strategy on a Page (SoaP) documents as part of this effort. The areas of strategic focus will be used in several important ways. They will guide our service strategies moving forward and will also be used to prioritize our investments for the coming year, including evaluation of business cases – once the process has been revamped later this winter – and development of our investment plan.

The top three areas of strategic focus are:

  • Advancing a Data-Driven Environment
  • Managing Risk
  • Creating Capacity

They are described in the UW-IT Strategy 2018 one-pager displayed below. Please review the strategy document carefully, and think of ways that you can contribute to these areas.

UW-IT Strategy 2018

View the UW-IT Strategy 2018 as a PDF. For more information see the updated strategy web page on Inside UW-IT.

You’ll notice that each area represents a broad array of activity that spans our organization. For example, Advancing a Data-Driven Environment pertains not only to the work within Information Management, it also relates to any area where data is being used to advance understanding and increase insight, including our efforts to track metrics for service management,  in supporting Big Data for research, and provide data analytics to enhance student success. The area of Managing Risk encompasses not only the nationally recognized work of the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer, but any effort that mitigates institutional risk. A key part of any strategy is identifying what not to do. The area of Creating Capacity addresses this challenge, underscoring the need to continually evaluate our services, with an eye towards finding more efficient ways to deliver services, and retiring legacy or underused technologies, so that we can invest in leading-edge technologies to support the University into the future. UW-IT is doing great work in each of these areas, so this is really about strengthening what we already do.

In addition to these three strategic focus areas, our investment decisions will be guided by two other important attributes – partnership and impact. We seek proposals that involve cross-collaborative efforts within our own organization and with UW partners, and that have a broad, positive impact across the University and beyond. Both are core to our mission and our ability to deliver outstanding IT services to the UW community.

The UW-IT Strategy 2018 one-pager also includes the broader strategic framework for our organization. It has a refreshed vision and mission for UW-IT that builds upon previous versions, updating and refining them. It shows our Seven Strategic Goals, which essentially have not changed. However, one goal – Advance Operational Excellence – has been renamed from Better IT Management to more accurately reflect the breadth and scope of this work.

This strategy provides us with a common vision and will help ensure that we remain focused on the right priorities. I am excited to share it with you, and to work together over the year ahead to do what you do best – deliver IT that matters to the University.