View from the Director’s chair – one month on

I’ve just completed my first month as incoming Director of IT Services, I’ve greatly enjoyed finding out as much as possible about the University and the way in which the IT Service is viewed by our senior customers and colleagues.  As well as the many visits I’ve made during the past few weeks, my diary has been filling up fast with committees, steering groups, working groups, feasibility groups, communities of practice, etc.……!  I’m grateful to all those who have patiently answered my many questions and helped me find my feet here including, of course, our own ITS managers and teams.

So, what are my first impressions? Number one is amazement at how such a small IT group is able to manage the scale and size of our IT operational services.  I’ve seen similarly sized IT operations run by much bigger IT sections elsewhere. The fact that we manage to run such a reliable and efficient service is a tribute to the very high calibre, expertise and commitment of our IT staff.

My second impression is that much of what ITS does is “invisible” or largely taken for granted by those on the receiving end of our services.  In many ways this is a good thing, reflecting a low failure rate and high levels of service availability.  But in other ways it reflects a lack of awareness about many of the ways in which IT is contributing to the life of the University. We are therefore working on an “Operating Plan for ITS” to communicate our service plans, priorities and objectives to the faculties and departments we serve. Improving the visibility of ITS will also help us to engage more widely in discussions on future developments across the University.  Our Plan will include some key performance measures to demonstrate the quality of what we deliver and perhaps highlight areas we need to improve.

Thirdly, it’s been encouraging to see that we have a well-designed and up to date IT infrastructure; regularly reviewed and maintained to industry standards.  The IT “plumbing” may sound a rather boring subject to mention but, as with most plumbing, everyone notices if it becomes blocked, or leaks ! For example, I have found out that some IT staff worked during their Christmas holiday to ensure that we got the London Road campus preparation completed for the Institute of Education move from Bulmershe. Also, over the last couple of weeks we’ve continued our “behind the scenes” investments, with a further spend of around £6000 to update many of our older WiFi access points on the Whiteknights campus.

I’m now looking forward to month two………

John

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