CIO Annual Report 2015

Good day all,

It's hard to believe that's it's only been a year since we actively kicked off the transformation of the old ICT into the new Information Technology Services (ITS) directorate. In this time, I'm proud to report that significant and positive changes within ITS have eventuated from both a technological and service delivery point of view.

None of the wins we've achieved could have been possible without the support and trust from my leadership team and the cooperation from many directorates and faculties across our organisation. So allow me to begin by expressing my heartfelt thanks to you all.

As 2016 starts to ramp up and one looks to the future where ITS is passionately driving the technical and digital transformation of our university, it's sometimes necessary to reflect upon and understand our recent past.

So, with that in mind, allow me to share the 2015 highlights from seven areas across the ITS directorate. I invite you to read below some of the outstanding results, which speak for themselves. What an amazing team!



Business Solutions and Strategic Services

In late Oct 2014, I released my ITS Transformation Strategic Plan. The Plan outlined the total overhaul of the old ICT directorate into the reliable provider and service-centric enabler of end-to-end IT services to meet our university's needs.

We have faithfully strived to be that enabler of business solutions by brokering, provisioning, delivering and maintaining scalable and cost-effective services. I'm pleased to report that we are well on the road to realising this goal, having successfully achieved many of these aspirational outcomes in a remarkably short period of time.

Obviously "Rome, was not built in a day" whereas the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu did say, "the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step". To this end, we started by sharing the vision with the FedUni community. I held near-monthly workshops within ITS and hosted a few public presentations where I articulated the new IT status quo. This was followed by the release of a few videos which outlined some of the changes.

The first achievement was the successful delivery of an ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) tool in record time. This necessitated a complete overhaul of our service request, event, incident, problem, change and knowledge management practices which has been challenging at times. Our self-service portal went live on 1 September 2015 and uptake throughout the University has been good and is steadily growing.

Gone are the days where an email initiated a support request which often got "bogged in the quicksand". Now we have a traceable, dependable and quantifiable service across key aspects of ITS.

Driving this transformative time, I've noted many measurable improvements in IT service quality. To achieve this my ITS leadership team has altered old culture and today ITS focuses on being: accountable, dependable, enabling, reliable, engaging, adaptable, excellent, innovative and collaborative.

Business Partnerships

ITS has changed the way we engage across the business and established a small team of empowered ITS Service Managers who have been actively building deeper relationships based on trust and confidence. These Service Managers align and then fulfil the IT commitments outlined in our new Service Catalogue, that meet the ever-evolving demands of the University.

This has led to the instituting of a considered, prioritised, analytical and more mature project brief practice. The new practice ensures initiatives and project demands upon ITS are functionally and technologically aligned to a common strategic vision for FedUni.

Timely and accurate communication to the leadership of the University has dramatically improved. As a result Portfolio, Faculty and Directorate leaders and their staff have a real service partner they can call upon to better service their IT needs.

I'm pleased to report that, in collaboration with the ITS Service Design team, our ITS Service Managers have been consulting with the business. We are now also strategically aligning ITS and its partners to gain better value for the University with a more mature vendor management outlook.

Service Design and Planning

We've refocused IT skills by creating a talented team comprising enterprise architects / analysts and a procurement / asset specialist who now evaluate, access, appraise and define technologies. They also scope solutions as ITS strives to ensure technologies introduced via projects are fit for purpose, cost effective with a viable return on investment, and align to the new architectural guidelines of the University.

Best practice IT operations and architectural frameworks are being rolled out to provide an improved and consistent approach to the way that we interact, document and think about our work. This has prompted the development of new data governance controls and best practices including a cloud storage vision, hybrid -cloud migration procedures and service design packages.

During the year the team undertook various proposal analysis and system architecture / design reviews with integrations vendors, in support of projects such as:
  • Client Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Collaboration tools through SharePoint
  • Office 365 for a cloud-based office suite
  • Communications standardisation via Lync/Skype
  • Exchange systems migration
  • Data analytics reviews
  • Cloud-based Enterprise Service Bus rollout
  • Business Intelligence suites analysis
  • Identity management realignment
  • Finance/HR/SAM systems evaluations
Resource capacity management is now considered for all new projects through planning, conceptualisation and product suitability assessments considering requirements, costs, integrations and the landscape going forward. Current system capacity and performance is also better analysed and communicated to ensure our current services are available above our agreed levels.

In the third quarter, a major achievement was the completion of the Enterprise Architecture Strategic Paper which followed a six-month review of dual-sector technology needs that meet the challenges we and other education institutions face. The paper addresses how we will manage the impacts of digital disruption and potential deregulation into the future.

This involved the analysis of the current ITS landscape, considering best utilisation, potential consolidation and efficiency gains including licensing to better serve the University going forward. It also included the exploration of more than 240 student applications and 145 staff applications with more than 85 enterprise databases – some with more than 22,000 tables – at more than 10 physical locations.

FedUni is one of only a few Australian universities that now has a dedicated / detailed / defined and daring architectural plan that is expected to drive the digital vision of this university into 2020. Soon, I will be releasing a strategic and tactical paper, The Digital Journey, that outlines various user experience(s) of technology as the true enabler for the empowered academic and student experience.

Within the Australian university sector, FedUni also leads the way in data virtualisation - This term broadly refers to any approach to data management that allows numerous applications to retrieve and use data obtained from any number of disparate systems across disparate locations, making the data rapidly available and more useful. Transformative outcomes are expected soon.

In the last quarter, we reviewed and realigned ITS capital and operating cost models that aligned with our EA Master plan vision. We also centralised aspects of the University's annual IT budget to ensure best fit for purpose and better business-aligned outcomes. This should have ongoing benefits well into the future.

Service Governance

Best practice, good quality, safe and validated systems are IT standards of professionalism we strive towards every day. With the introduction of ServiceNow and through more robust governance and audit oversight practices, ITS are now able to manage continual technological changes across its complex, enterprise-wide environment.

Early in the year, we successfully migrated off numerous legacy network security devices and introduced an elegantly consolidated and streamlined service, making our environment more robust. In this regard, ITS has again led the way in some aspects of network security in the Australian university sector.

Since then we have processed over 103 million email messages. 69% of inbound messages were intercepted as suspicious and 10.98 million were safely delivered to the University community.

In addition since 2014, we have seen an 88% increase in Internet usage across all campuses, which clearly shows the growing dependency by staff and students on technology as a critical education medium. I hear the evangelicals say "Digital disruption is upon us".

We introduced over 105 notable changes across the domain and have now established maintenance windows (agreed outage times) and blackout windows (critical business times) which minimise impacts on the business and end users. This further enables the University to optimise operations whilst mitigating risk due to change complexity.

Service Operations

The physical realignment of the operations teams commenced in February. To date the Student and Research Team, the Digital and eLearning Team, the Corporate Solutions Team and the Infostructure Team have been established within ITS. This realignment of back-office system developers and administrators has resulted in a more focused group that now guarantees the proverbial "IT lights remain on", with primary systems that are stable, functional, maintained and reliable on a 24 x 7 x 365 basis.

Since its official launch early in the year, we saw over 400 agents and applicants use our online international applications tool. This resulted in a notable increase in international and domestic online applications. This is another win for our university.

The noteworthy resource realignment and amalgamation of old ICT, CeRDI Web Team and ISIS project technologists resulted in the Service Operations teams successfully completing a number of projects and programs of work, and many concluded ahead of schedule. They include the Campus Enhancement Project and the migration of the FedUni website to the Amazon cloud, resulting in page time rendering response improving on average 10-fold. Our Web Team also created three new microsites - FedGen, Online Learning and P-Tech - in record time.

Course Finder went live in mid-December as a joint effort between SCIP and ITS and is currently on the front page of the FedUni website. The collaboration with CLIPP and SCIP continued along with Library staff to deliver the Equella tool in September allowing teaching staff to contribute and share learning content.

Another ITS/SCIP win was the rapid implementation of an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) which was our second step into the Amazon Cloud. This solution now provides data feeds into CRM and will soon service many other systems' data queries, enterprise-wide.

Service Support

This year saw the successful re-alignment and subsequent relocation of our Service Desk function to the Gippsland Campus. To date, this small team answered an astonishing 26,000+ calls with only a 4% abandonment rate whilst also reducing call waiting times dramatically. Overall, I am again very proud to report a 68% service quality improvement.

We also extended our Service Desk support hours to staff and students into the evening and weekends whilst introducing a priority classroom and meeting space hotline number (8888) to improve service responsiveness.

We also saw a major upgrade of teaching and meeting spaces' technology in F building, including the replacement of a further 45 lectern desktop devices. This was followed by ITS redefining and implementing a simpler and standardised touch interface in all multimode teaching and meeting spaces. This resulted in a better teaching experience as students, academics and staff still feel these benefits daily.

Three frustrating user experiences were remedied early in the year. These were; the decommissioning of the legacy UBIAS user login system, the removal of MS Windows legacy operating systems, followed by the Onsite Teams successful efforts to dramatically improve speed and responsiveness of all students' Lab PCs as old student Standard Operating Environment (SOE) images throughout the university were refreshed and numerous new / upgraded desktop devices were provisioned to all faculties and directorates.

Another win was the roll-out of our FedUni wired internet access to students in FedUni Living, Mt Helen residences. The network upgrade works were successfully completed as ample quantities of network switches were re-provisioned, so we now offer anytime internet services in this location.

Print Services

With the renewed Print Services mandate sanctioned in mid 2014, functional and operational control of print saw the centralisation of printing services and budget controls realign to Ballarat. By mid-year, the closure of the Gippsland Campus printery eventuated and the consolidation of print assets was successfully integrated into the service.

To date, the Mt Helen team has successfully absorbed the workload, relocated infrastructure and established practices that meet the works requirement for all campuses and an improved service offerings is now the norm. This small team's mammoth effort is highly commended and the positive outputs of this are valued every day, by so many.

The relocation of the ex-Gippsland equipment has realised significant production efficiencies, introduced new capabilities within the team and reduced levels of job outsourcing, thereby maintaining an optimal level of operational efficiency.

Mid 2015 saw a change in our operating pricing model which delivered to Finance a non-inflated, more accurate budgeting regime from Faculties and Departments moving forward. This too is a more optimal outcome of our university.

A major highlight has been the roll-out of a new managed Multi-Function Device (MFD) printer fleet servicing all campuses as undertaken through our partner, Just Copiers, Ballarat (Konica Minolta). This has resulted in standardised equipment, more economical print costs and a significantly improved service maintenance response time SLA to all users.

In fact, 1.92 A4 pages are printed every second across the university through this new infrastructure. So much more is being done by a dedicated few with greater efficiency, optimised output and streamlined processes. This epitomises what ITS aspires to achieve daily!