Elements of the Plan

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”

To function as a world-class Information Technology (IT) organization and further the mission, vision, and values of this prestigious University, Penn State IT must not only adapt to twenty-first century technological, social, and educational trends, but move to the forefront as a leader in innovation. IT, like all other professional disciplines, must be managed in accordance with best practices, regulatory standards, and organizational guidelines.

By implementing appropriate business and financial management, governance, talent acquisition strategies, and standardization of best practices, Penn State IT will maximize its investments in IT and help empower the University to new levels of strategic success. This is no different from the way other professional disciplines at the University operate (i.e., accounting, legal, engineering, architecture, physical plant, etc.) where management oversight and standards are in place to ensure best practices.

The goal of our plan for Reimagining IT is to create a forward-thinking, resilient service organization that is agile and easily adapts to rapid and complex changes. Through this plan, IT will not only meet, but strive to exceed, the current and future technology needs and visions of Penn State. Similar to embracing personalized learning in higher education, IT seeks to provide personalized technology support through its team-of-teams organization. People, services, and preparing for the future will be our focus as we endeavor to differentiate Penn State from peer institutions.

As IT moves forward, we will:

  • enable teaching and learning, research, innovation, and service
  • collaborate and partner throughout the Penn State community
  • align IT priorities through governance to meet Penn State’s priorities and strategic initiatives
  • create a consistent experience with our technical services
  • minimize our redundancies while increasing our effectiveness and efficiencies
  • reduce our security risk while increasing our flexibility
  • communicate openly with the University community
  • maintain the strategic importance of IT in the units

Through months of engagement across the University community, we have learned firsthand the expectations, frustrations, and aspirations for IT at our great university. Reimagining IT at Penn State is a plan that embraces not only what IT is at the University, but what it has the potential to be. It outlines extraordinary ambition to meet the myriad and diverse needs of the entire University.

It is important to note that the plan for Reimagining IT at Penn State is not about “centralization,” but rather “optimization.” The plan lays out a new destination for all of Penn State IT including leadership, IT professionals across the University, and the resources we manage. OneIT across Penn State is the new vision. It represents an indisputable fact that we can accomplish far more working together than we can working in independent and fragmented units.

The famous management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker, who has been described as the “founder of modern management,” has been attributed with the following:

“You cannot manage what you cannot control. You cannot control what you cannot measure. You cannot measure what you cannot define.”

This plan defines our goals, shares measures for success, and provides for management of the resources that will fuel OneIT to transform the experience of everyone throughout the University as we position IT as a strategic differentiator in support of the missions of teaching, research, and service.

Stewardship of Resources

To advance the IT transformation successfully, the vice president of IT/CIO must oversee the stewardship of all IT resources, including personnel and budget. This alignment will empower the right talent in the right roles to accomplish the right things using the right approach.

Governance

Penn State IT wants and needs to be a strategic partner with all the business aspects of the University and must be governed by essential stakeholders. While we believe IT is a critical strategic partner to the business of the University, and IT’s role in advocating for and advising on the adoption of new technologies is imperative to the University’s success, we recognize that ultimately the decisions about what technologies to adopt, services to offer, and strategies to employ are for the University’s leaders to make.

Security

We recognize the vital importance of providing IT security services and protecting the University’s intellectual property and the privacy of our students, faculty, and staff. In the eighteen months since the arrival of our new chief information security officer (CISO), and the vice president for IT/CIO, we have seen both better security and more flexibility than we had in the past. Consistent approaches to security, coupled with a smaller attack surface, have given us the confidence to allow our researchers to implement systems that would have been disallowed in the past. Our Reimagined IT will give us the ability to further increase security in the future, and we believe that, counterintuitively, this will give us even greater flexibility over time as we come to understand the full inventory of risks that confront the University and come to a position where we can isolate rather than disallow risky behavior.

IT Service Rationalization

As part of the Reimagining IT plan, Penn State IT will examine the cost of IT services in relation to the quality of services and customer satisfaction. The long-term goal of IT service rationalization is to balance the extremes of IT investment and satisfaction to create affordable services paired with an equal level of service.

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