Long range planning and more discussed at IT Leadership Team meeting

December 10, 2020

The Leadership Team met on Wednesday, November 18 to discuss the following projects and updates:

Long Range Planning (LRP) Update

When John Barden joined the organization in 2017, the University was seeking a strategic model for IT services and support. In partnership with IT colleagues, the FY2018-2022 strategy was developed, with three “strategic anchors” driving this work: One IT at Yale, Service Quality, and Workplace of Choice.

Each of IT’s anchors has facilitated enhancements, while also requiring financial investment and realignment. Progress during this period has been substantial, including greater consistency of execution, service availability, responsiveness to emerging needs, and strengthening the IT community. Additionally, with approximately 20 months remaining in the FY18-2022 plan, IT will focus on finishing the foundation these anchors have provided, refining team alignment, and strengthening governance engagement and planning.

For FY23 and beyond, there is an increasing expectation on IT to support a wide range of significant institutional goals. John shared that, “it is important to acknowledge that changes such as online learning, remote work, and public health measures have accelerated the reach of technology and have required us to better correlate attributable outcomes and efficiencies.” After reflecting on the processes and tools needed to reopen Yale, take-aways for IT include:

  • Enriching ongoing collaborations and improving the balance of decision rights is critical to our information system stewardship.
  • Structuring and authorizing projects will provide a more comprehensive view of the drivers of success.
  • Improving our understanding of data management practices and data quality practices is necessary on a broad level.

Directionally, several factors are influencing IT’s thinking around the next strategic plan, including:

  • Heightening visibility and coordination efforts around technology investments
  • Emphasizing enablement, to derive improved value from investments
  • Evolving the IT Leadership Council and IT’s organizational design
  • Targeting technology investments to achieve the highest value
  • Continuing to align and reinforce the intersection of function and technology

Future progress on IT’s Strategic Plan will be shared in Town Halls and in future issues of IT Update.

Balanced Scorecard and FAB Updates

Karen Polhemus announced that Balanced Scorecard information, including a list of initiatives and charters, is now available on the IT at Yale Microsoft Teams site, which is available to all IT Staff. The site will continue to evolve, including the addition of a forthcoming Leadership Team channel for meeting presentations and other information.

Mark Manton shared that the Financial Activity and Balances (FAB) report, which is now being received by every service owner, will be used to engage owners in the development of a budget narrative for the Q2 forecast and year-end report. As part of this process, service owners will be asked three questions related to anticipated expenses, ways of reducing costs without degrading service beneficiaries, and anticipated service changes. The ultimate goal of this new review process is to give service owners more insight and visibility into the utilization of their service and the budgeting process.

Expanding the Talent Planning Process

The Talent Planning process is kicking off at the University and Blanche Temple shared that the program is expanding. The primary goal of this process is to prepare John Barden and Jack Callahan for the annual Officers Planning Meeting in 2021, where they will discuss how to expand the Talent Planning process across the university, on a deeper level. This year, every level of leadership within IT will engage in this process, with a focus on the 9-box grid exercise, including discussions around succession planning and individual development plans and training. The Workday Talent Planning module will be utilized to document the results of these discussions. The process will take place over five weeks, with meetings between HR colleagues and leaders across IT. For questions, reach out to Blanche Temple (blanche.temple@yale.edu).

Performance Management Update

Cheri Ross encouraged IT staff to review the newly published ITS Performance Management Cycle Overview document, which outlines the seasonal nature of performance management. Cheri encouraged IT staff to conclude their planning and goal setting and to contact the Performance Management action team for support, as needed (contact cheri.ross@yale.edu for questions).

Application and System Health Monitoring Update

The latest Enterprise Monitoring Service using the Dynatrace platform continues to roll out, including the provision of training and establishing integrations. Darrell Cook shared that between July and November, Tier 0 and 1 application work included collaborating with IT Partners, weekly training, core integrations, and standards development. Looking ahead, from December 2020 to June 2021, Tier 2 and 3 implementations will begin including on-going IT partner rollouts, weekly training, as well as upcoming architecture reviews with Dynatrace. As part of this work, Enterprise Monitoring team has established a strategy to distribute the limited set of licenses and is actively developing a standards and shared practices document to guide users in setup and configuration, system capabilities, and other details.

To ensure that applications are operating as expected and healthy, Jason Shuff reflected on Dynatrace’s monitoring capabilities. Data from systems like VMWare, Workday, Duo, and others are made available, automated, and tested to ensure the health of the systems. For applications that allow the OneAgent, the team can review CPU, memory, disk, network, process, and other areas to ensure the user is having a positive experience. Alerts and notification processes are established, in partnership with service owners, to deliver the best experience for the end user and optimize performance. Generating incidents, developing private or shared dashboards, and APIs are among the alerts and notification approaches that are available.

Next steps for utilizing Dynatrace include:

  • Continuing to complete IT Partners and Tier 3, 4, and 5 rollouts of Dynatrace
  • OpsView Decommissioning Activities
  • Trainings/Workshops, such as: the Dynatrace Day of Training, Value Accelerator Program, and Virtual Perform Conference
  • Onboarding a new college hire in May 2021

For more information or to review recorded sessions, visit the EM Sharepoint site. A recent overview of this service, given at the November 11 TechTalk, can also be watched on Microsoft Stream.

Drupal 8 during the cybersecurity website update

Franz Hartl shared an overview of YaleSites, which was established in 2009 and includes 1,300 Drupal 7 web properties. Eleven years after its launch, the service, which enables the Yale community to communicate and connect with its audiences, is in need of improvements.

Several problem areas have emerged, including:

  • A user experience (UX) that is hindered by insufficient tools
  • No continuous automation for QA, security, accessibility and other tasks
  • A lack of mechanisms for efficiently sharing content and code across web properties
  • Visual identity standards that are too easily circumvented
  • An outdated CMS (Drupal 7 will be depreciated in 2022) that does not position us in line with our peers

Moving forward, a modular approach to building Yale’s web infrastructure a.k.a. “WebOps” (a combination of Agile and DevOps) will be key to enabling more frequent improvements that can be shared across Yalesites, while minimizing the need for a platform rebuild. Additionally, design systems will be necessary to unlock accessible web experiences and facilitate the sharing of content in an easy, accessible, and on-brand way.

Michael Vaughn reflected on the importance of accessibility within design systems. Current YaleSites themes present challenges with regard to meeting accessibility standards, and he is eager to fix those problems and to integrate new authoring features, such as accessibility checkers and automated QA of new code, to help website owners meet accessibility requirements. The accessibility team supports a static design system currently. Work to improve the YaleSites platform will include building a more dynamic design system, where changes to YaleSites themes are synchronized with changes to the design system. This living design system will allow assets to be more easily ported to other hosting platforms, such as WordPress sites or static sites on SpinUp.

Jessica Zaczek spoke about her experience rebooting the cybersecurity website on Drupal 8. She spoke to how the platform provides new ways to communicate with and engage our community. She highlighted the new functionalities around Yale’s Minimum Security Standards (MSS) and awareness. The site dramatically enhanced the usability of the MSS. It also provided new ways to present and reinforce pertinent cybersecurity awareness information. The new site will help reintroduce Yale’s Information Security Office (ISO). ISO aims to be viewed as “partners, not police” to the Yale community. She emphasized that this message could not be spread as effectively without the new site. This is especially true in our new virtual environment.

Ask John Anything

There were no questions submitted during this session, but John did offer a few quick updates:

  • John mentioned that IT is trying to introduce a common set of expectations to enable IT to work more quickly, nimbly, and strategically. Paul Rivers also expressed that he has sensed anxiety around achieving MSS standards. John and Paul both agreed that, so long as everyone is making an effort and reaching out for questions or help, this is the key to making progress. John encouraged people to reach out to him for questions, as did Paul (information.security@yale.edu).
  • John also mentioned that Yale is re-assessing the list of those deemed “high contact,” in partnership with Maddie Wilson and others within the Operations Implementation Task Force. EHS will be working with ITS to revisit that list to be sure we’re doing all of the right things with PPE procedures. They are looking for ways to reduce the list of those who need to be on campus.

The next Leadership Team meeting will be held on December 16.

One IT at YaleService QualityWorkplace of Choice