Page 19 - Campus Technology, June 2017
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more and more difficult for any CIO to try to make a case for investment just for IT,” he said. “If you are not tying it directly to the outcomes that the institution is striving for, your case becomes quite weak.”
Grillo very rarely goes to the board or a committee to present a technology solution without having a partner on the business unit side with him. For the BI project, he sought out leaders in departments such as human resources. “They saw that they could write algorithms that would show them the cost of a graduate student post-doc employed through human resources but also getting stipends from finance,” he said. “Those are the types of analyses that were very difficult to do without having a data warehouse built to pull all the data into one area. The provost understood that we were living in a world of performance metrics, and if we didn’t understand the data we were going to be dead in the water. These tools were necessary.”
Metrics are a similar force for change at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Sarah Buszka, a process improvement specialist and engagement coordinator in the Division of Information Technology, is working to help colleagues develop more data-driven approaches to evaluation and governance.
Buszka works in the User Services department, which includes the help desk, departmental support and a technology store. She has developed dashboards to help coworkers
start thinking about communicating the value of those services to campus leadership, faculty, staff and students. “We are going through a change in IT governance and a change in CIO,” she said. “That is introducing chaos in our landscape and there are a lot of questions being asked of us that were not being asked before.”
“A lot of our challenges arise from the fact that in the past we weren’t using data or metrics,” Buszka added. “But just because we have always done something one way does not mean we should continue to do it that way.”
The new governance group and new CIO will be asking lots of questions, she acknowledged. “My goal is to help folks get ahead of that. How can they be a part of this change instead of having change happen to them? We want to be proactive in creating a dashboard to communicate some of those high-level metrics around operations, strategy and the value added to the mission of the university.”
Buszka’s goal is to get beyond using just numbers such as help desk tickets to communicate value. “The number of tickets generated by a help desk for a year is a good metric,” she explained, “but I want to get more granular: Who are the customers? Students? Faculty? Staff? How is it changing? We can bring in customer feedback from focus groups and advisory boards about how they want to interact. That pulls in that qualitative piece.”
Her team has had conversations about what data to present and how to present it. “What I found to be most effective for me was leveraging pictures and visuals,” she said. “For my group, I create a one-page document that highlights operational metrics and value metrics. Traffic lights — red, yellow and green — signify the status on things. This is very simple. It is not line items buried in spreadsheets, which is what we were traditionally doing. At a glance I can see green, we are good, and red, we are holding. There is not a lot of room for misinterpretation.”
The dashboard Buszka helped create is shared directly with John Krogman, the division’s chief operating officer, who reported to (now retired) CIO Bruce Maas. “It let him start asking more questions of our group,” Buszka said, “which lets us dig deeper and bring some more data back to him, so he can understand the context of what is going on. It also caused him to start asking questions of folks in other groups that report to him.”4

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