Kudos, Project Updates, and COVID-19 Support Discussed at Leadership Team Meeting

April 2, 2020

The Leadership Team met on March 25 to discuss the following projects and updates.

Recognizing Outstanding Work
Paul Rivers started the meeting by asking Leaders to acknowledge the incredible work that has taken place, particularly over the last few weeks to prepare the campus for remote learning, teaching, and working. Kudos were given to the entire IT organization for their Service Quality as well as their patience, energy, and enthusiasm.

John shared that University leadership recognizes the important role that IT plays in ensuring that Yale can continue its educational mission, research, clinical care, and operations. He emphasized that he “truly appreciates the level of support IT is offering—both on-the-ground and remotely, as do the leadership team and the entire Yale community.”

Balanced Scorecard Updates
Lisa Sawin shared updates on two Balanced Scorecard items, including the Service Quality goal to “Assess Processes and Deploy Improvements for Gating, Change Control, and Major Incident[s]”—which represents a combination of two Scorecard items, and a Workplace of Choice goal to “Establish a Framework for the Yale IT Academy and Launch Two Curriculums.”

For the Service Quality goal, recent progress includes:

  • Teams are seeing a real value in the conversations they have with pre-gating partners and the Gating Board is getting the opportunity to better understand projects, engage sooner and influence decisions being made for the better.  A post-gating report is produced after every gating meeting to capture open items that must be addressed before progressing through phase gates and recommendations that will enable the team to be more effective.  For FY21, gating materials will be gathered directly in PPM to tie directly to the project record and status.
  • Regarding the Change Process review, information has been gathered and requirements are being completed to improve the process and ServiceNow tool, including a form to request pre-approved changes, which is now automated. The text questions in the description field have been eliminated and moved to the scheduling and planning tabs, making it easier for the submitter to complete the form thus ensuring the content is more complete and accurate. Finally, custom change tasks are being created to work better for the community.
  • The Incident Process review, including Major Incident, is underway. A current state assessment is in progress, which involves interviewing over 50 IT staff. The project team is targeting the beginning of FY21 to make recommendations for process and ServiceNow improvements.  The ultimate goal being to mature the Incident Process and position it for continuous improvement going forward.  

For the Workplace of Choice Goal, recent progress includes:

  • Tech Talks and InfoSec Chats were introduced and have been a nice addition to the learning program. In April, Tech Talks will be held online via Zoom. For more information, visit TMS (requires on-campus or VPN access). 
  • A new IT Academy: Recommended Online Training page was recently launched to provide IT staff with vetted, curated courses. The course content, which can be completed online/while staff are working remotely, was developed in consultation with service owners, with the goal of helping all IT staff effectively do their jobs. 

IT Governance – Pillar Governance Structure
Mark Manton and Ryan Schlagheck spoke on the evolving role that the IT Governance model will play in facilitating decision making for portfolio investments. To date, the majority of engagement with these institutional leaders has been about prioritizing major projects in their respective areas of responsibility (academic delivery, research, etc.). Mark and Ryan shared the expectation that we would start engaging Pillar Chairs in conversations around operational investments, which comprise more than 85% of annual spend (or 130+ million dollars). In the coming two fiscal years, IT has set a goal to clarify the cost of services, including associated service support and human capital, among other details. Ultimately, the goal is to equip Pillar Chairs with information that will guide their associated IT strategy and needs.

The IT community will be involved in supporting this effort by refreshing their service roadmaps and participating in considering emerging campus needs that might shape our long range planning, an effort that will be led by Lisa Sawin’s team. In addition, Mark Manton’s team has already begun to build and evolve the financial documentation needed to lay out the RTS budget, to make fruitful and healthy decisions. Data points, which will be shared in the coming weeks and months, may include: tickets per service, FTE allocation by service demand, and service-level spending, among others. As part of this effort, work is also underway to simplify the service catalog, time tracking, and other areas.

By exposing useful data to Pillar Chairs, IT will support them in making meaningful decisions, align IT activity, and provide more transparency around IT spending.

COVID-19 Related Support
Lou Tiseo outlined some of the ways IT has been supporting the community in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Establishing infrastructure support, including replacing Wifi, installing cellular service, providing an ethernet network for VOIP phones and more for a field hospital that has been established in Lanman Gym (PWG) and a Drive-Thru testing Center at Sachem-Prospect Garage (Ingell’s Rink).
  • Increasing VPN and internet bandwidth, including doubling session capacity, VPN concentrators to clusters, increased connection to concentrators as well as significantly increasing internet bandwidth and core network backbone (by 5x).
  • Implementing Zoom enhancements, including adding more licensing for large meetings (300-1,000 participants), integrating Zoom with Canvas, adding recording storage, and more.

Lou commended the teams for their dedication, including working through the night and weekends to get all of the technology in place for Yale Health Plan. He shared that, in some cases this work typically takes up to 3 months and, “all of the work during this effort was completed within two weeks, including support from Network Services, Telecom, and others.”

Sandra Germenis added that the Help Desk has been working remotely since the week of March 11, and “they have had more contacts in the last two weeks than in the last month—in fact, on one day it was over 1k contacts.” She noted that they have been working through the weekends and have been initiating new phone cues to give critical staff hands-on support.

Additional support from her team includes:

  • Attending Poorvu Center and Canvas training to better support Faculty during and after trainings
  • Continued daily meetings with the Poorvu Center, to maintain high Service Quality
  • DSPs supporting faculty, particularly with connecting equipment from home (supporting twice the number of clients this March vs. last March)
  • Ensuring that the community can send voicemail to email, given that support for this service has doubled in comparison to December.
  • Supporting the ability for 5 Medical Call Center Agents to work remotely
  • Connecting 14 phones in the temporary field hospital
  • Supporting students (via the STC) by providing loaners and returning repaired equipment
  • Maintaining Remote Work resources pages for each audience on the IT at Yale website

Ask John Anything
John Barden answered the following questions from Leadership Team attendees.

Faculty, Staff, and Students are expressing issues with the “last mile” network connectivity (aka infrastructure at the neighborhood level). How do we support them? 
Please direct them to the help desk and also suggest that they review guidance on our Remote Work resource pages, including: guidance on accessing the internet at home, understanding network health/speed, and improving network performance.

Will we relinquish storage space on Zoom after the semester ends or is the expectation that we store it for longer durations?
We expanded space in response to concerns by two of the professional schools, and the desire to depressurize this concern in the short term. Randy Rhode and Mike Denice are creating a list of questions to bring to the IT counsel, and our long term approach to this storage is an item we will revisit when things settle a bit more.

There is growing recognition that this event is likely to cause a deep and severe recession and the University. What can you share?
All unit leaders are being asked to think about updated guidance for the coming years. In IT, we’ll try to get better clarity on our projects, such as those that are likely to slow down as a result of constraints due to COVID-19 (e.g. we cannot currently access buildings for Next Generation Network). We’ll be evaluating where we can make more moderated requests, while also being sensitive to the important work we’re doing. In the coming weeks, we’ll have more information to share, and we also have a meeting scheduled with IT Governance Chairs to revisit FY21 plans.

For the near future, Virtual IT Leadership Team Meetings will take place on a weekly basis—the next meeting will take place on April 8. 

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