IT Strategy Review April 2014 - University College Strategy Review April 2014.pdf IT Strategy Review

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  • UCD Computer Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4 T:+ 353 1 716 2002 F: + 353 1 283 7077

    UCD IT Services Seírbhísí TF UCD

    IT Strategy Review April 2014

    1. Executive Summary

    UCD IT Services developed a five year IT Strategy (2009-2013) and has now completed its implementation.

    The strategy set out key objectives for each area of IT, with specific plans to achieve these goals. Annual

    plans, work programmes and reviews were in place for each year of the strategy, setting out the actual

    implementation and any new requirements which arose over the period.

    The purpose of this report was to assess the implementation and impact of the IT Strategy based on:

     Review of the documented plans and implementation history.

     Interviews with key IT Services staff responsible for each area of the strategy & resources.

     Review of customer feedback and performance, based on existing survey material.

     Assessment of impact based on available quantitative and qualitative information.

    A detailed review of delivery against the strategic objectives is contained in Section 3, with a strength /

    weakness assessment based on the programme status at the end of 2013. Overall the SWOT analysis

    shows that the main targets have been met, particularly in the context of a very challenging financial and

    external environment. The user base and intensity of demand for IT services has grown significantly over

    the period. While this was anticipated in the IT strategy, the level of mobile users and proliferation of new

    devices has been above expected levels.

    Strengths & Weaknesses

    UCD customer satisfaction with services is high and there is strong adoption of core services. The

    architecture delivers well to a mobile user population and is providing good on and off campus services.

    Concerns from users about interfaces and web access to services have been addressed. Reliability of the

    service is high and targets for availability have been met by the strategy. There is a strong set of teaching

    applications and eLearning platform, with a standard classroom technology model adopted across the

    campus. The administration systems have been regularly updated and improved with management

    information provided through InfoHub.

  • UCD Computer Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4 T:+ 353 1 716 2002 F: + 353 1 283 7077

    UCD IT Services Seírbhísí TF UCD

    The main outstanding issues relate to growing demand for more sophisticated services for research users,

    and the provision of future infrastructure capacity, potentially off-campus. While the core systems and

    applications are all standard, there is a growing base of smaller systems hosted by IT services which may

    add to the complexity of the service.

    Opportunities & Threats

    The current platforms provide a sound base to expand services and meet the new user demands. The high

    adoption levels give a particular opportunity to broaden the use of services, addressing new areas.

    Non-pay expenditure and capital investment in IT at UCD is extremely low. To put this in context, in year

    2000 the non-pay expenditure on IT was 2.57mil (excluding administrative systems which were funded

    separately). This year’s 2014 planned non-pay spend is 2.4million for a massively increased infrastructure

    and service – excluding power the spend is under 2million. A comparison with similar institutions shows

    spending at 2.5% x income in UCD versus a 4.4% benchmark norm (Educause core data survey). This poses

    a serious risk to the capability of the systems and services to support UCD strategy. Combined with this

    investment reduction, there is also a high attrition rate of staff in the technical and operational areas,

    driven by market demand for specific IT skills. This threatens both service delivery and performance.

    Impact of the Strategy

    The IT strategy has had a significant impact in the following areas:

     Greatly improved satisfaction with user interfaces and access to information services, reflected in high

    adoption rates and feedback.

     Strong performance of infrastructure and high confidence in the user community of availability of services –

    reflected both in general feedback & also from research community, who have very high demands.

     A strong eLearning platform base, with high use and the

    potential for growth into a more sophisticated delivery model.

     Major objectives of the strategy were met despite a very

    constrained financial environment.

     Very strong capability to service mobile devices and off campus

    access – meeting the changing needs of the student population.

  • UCD Computer Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4 T:+ 353 1 716 2002 F: + 353 1 283 7077

    UCD IT Services Seírbhísí TF UCD

    2. Background & Context

    The IT Strategy (2009-2013) was developed in the context of major strategic and organisational changes,

    UCD’s new Education and Research Strategies, and in particular the following key developments:

     Growth in research activity and increased demand for new and advanced services for


     Modularisation and semesterisation with consequent demands for IT enabled processes for


     Development of graduate schools with emerging new customer base of graduate students.

     Campus development encompassing new activities and expansion of existing activities e.g.

    residences, retail, commercial, research, conference etc.

    The strategy anticipated substantial growth in ICT, both a broadening of the user base and an expansion of the physical campus. In addition to this, there was a major increase in UCD’s collaborative activities both nationally and internationally. While the IT strategy proposed modest capital investment to meet these growth targets, the financial context changed very dramatically with a steadily contracting budget over the period. (Decrease of 7% p.a. - The IT budget fell from 11.4 million in 2008/09 to 8.5 million in 2013/14). Over the period of the strategy there have been disruptive changes in the wider IT landscape. The most notable of these are: the massive growth in mobile devices, the development of viable “cloud” services, and the huge impact of social media applications. Of particular relevance to research are recent developments in “big data” and analytics. In the teaching area, on-line learning trends such as MOOCs are difficult to predict, but are growing in scale and impact. Overall the IT services have adapted well to wireless, mobile and cloud models. Major services have migrated to off-campus and cloud offerings – Blackboard, Gmail, Research compute. Traditional out- sourcing models have been used for Help Desk and System Management. UCD IT has its own offering for users with “” and delivers on-demand teaching applications “Software for U”. To illustrate the extent of the change, the graph below shows on-campus access numbers 2007/13.







    60000 User Devices on the Network each Month



    Eduroam Poly. (Wireless)

  • UCD Computer Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4 T:+ 353 1 716 2002 F: + 353 1 283 7077

    UCD IT Services Seírbhísí TF UCD

    The number of wireless users on the network has grown massively. In 2007 there were an equal number of wired and wireless users. In 2013 there are to 5 times more wireless users than wired.

    The total number of devices on the network in a given month is now over 60,000.

    Recent staff customer feedback on IT services is very positive, based on an external study carried out by Amarach Research. The overall satisfaction rates were:

    25% Very Satisfied with Services

    58% Satisfied with Services

    12% Neutral

    4% Dissatisfied

    1% Very Dissatisfied

    Potential areas for improvement which were identified by users were: greater access to face to face

    services, and 24 hour access to services. It was recognised that IT Services were operating in a difficult

    budgetary environment and that services were constrained as a result of this. The most important aspect

    of services for customers was reliability – 99% of stakeholders. Feedback showed that users believed

    technology and systems were kept up to date.

    A separate study was carried out by UCD Research to assess the requirements of research users –

    “Research Foresight Report”. The findings from this study show high satisfaction with Research IT and the

    expertise of the team providing services and support. The network in particular was viewed as very robust

    and reliable. Compute services, both UCD and the ICHEC services were meeting demand. The area of least

    satisfaction was storage costs, where the central service is directly charged to the users.

    For future services there is a strong demand for a new level of activity by Research IT – providing more

    application and specialist services which are not part of the current offering. Examples cited include expert

    advisory services, web design and