Phase 1: Assess and Initiate

Last updated: February 5, 2024

Understanding the Opportunities and Challenges Ahead

To plan a journey, you need to know your starting point. To paint a comprehensive picture of UW-IT as it is now, Huron gathered a broad variety of data about existing infrastructure, services we provide, budget, and human resources. They looked closely at the work we did in 2022 to align our organization and achieve organizational health. An in-depth external environmental scan provided innovative and best-practice models for consideration and helped us understand IT transformations in the world beyond university campus borders. Phase 1 provided a holistic picture of the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats that confront UW-IT.

Perhaps the most complex challenge has been to fully examine, understand, and then frame UW-IT’s financial model—how funding flows in and out of UW-IT. In addition to its own analysis, Huron listened to Executive Leadership, IT Senior Leadership, Distributed IT Leadership (Tacoma, Bothell, Computing Directors Group, Medical), Institutional Budget & Finance, Division, College, and Department budget “owners,” and others. Since the goal of strategic planning is to create a more transparent and sustainable organization, this analysis is essential and will play a critical role in mapping our way forward.

“IT is too decentralized. We need a way to scale this up. We need UW-IT to help with the decision-making process around this stuff.”

-Stakeholder Feedback

To generate a comprehensive “Universe of Strategic Options,” Huron has had broad and deep engagement with the UW community and external peers and policymakers. Huron has used interviews, surveys, and focus groups to explore UW-IT’s relationship to customers and to solicit feedback and learn more about customer needs and expectations. Engagement with peer institutions is collecting best practices and new ideas about higher education IT. We’re hearing loud and clear from our stakeholders that UW-IT needs a clearer vision and a focused strategy for serving the University.

“IT is too decentralized. We need a way to scale this up. We need UW-IT to help with the decision-making process around this stuff.”

“We try not to do workarounds on AI, but don’t want to wait too long or go too fast and do the wrong thing.”

“At this point, I can’t wait any longer… It seems like I shouldn’t have to figure this out on my own. I can pay for it on my own, but if we are going to operate as a system, we should have some kind of economy of scale.”

“UW is very decentralized by school/department – IT has an opportunity to centralize this resource, if for no other reason than security. It’s a great risk when you are decentralized. But also service and upgrades are easier when centralized.”

“We need to ensure that there is NO duplication, but there is a lot right now. We don’t have the resources to afford the luxury of duplication.”

“A lot of people are shooting for the same objectives and getting different results, which is a red flag that we are not aligned.”

“The relationship is extremely passive. We just need to meet more. Need to create more partnership” – External Partner

“Senior leadership coming into UW from the outside join with an expectation that we have more in place than we actually do. Then they realize too much is based on relationships.”

“There is an opportunity for more active participation from UW in the enterprise architecture, data, and cloud programs. At a minimum UW needs to be involved in communities of practice.” – External Partner

“We all need to help reduce the time from research to practical application – we all have a role to play.” – External Partner

One UW-IT: United in Purpose and Vision

As Huron’s work comes together, we’ll start to be able to see the organization we want to become. An unclouded vision of where we’re headed will align our work because we all will know where we’re going. A compelling vision will inspire UW-IT, as well as prospective employees and our customers and partners who are eager for stronger and collaborative leadership from UW-IT. This compelling image will be instrumental at pivot points because it will help us choose the direction that will take us more surely to the destination we envision. Get ready! We’ll start this exciting work in Phase 2.