CIOs Steve Fleagle and Lee Carmen shared an update on the UI’s IT integration initiative at the May 22, 2018 Tech Forum. Following high-level overviews of Health Care Information Systems and OneIT, the Q&A-style presentation focused on staff questions gathered through the Tech Forum registration survey and discussion at a joint meeting of OneIT and HCIS leaders. Here’s a recap of the key points:

What integration means, and why we are doing it

What are the reasons for integrating IT across campus?

The overall goal of integration is to provide the best possible IT environment for the UI. There are two drivers: We want to make the IT experience as seamless as possible for customers. Additionally, the entire institution critically depends on IT services. To keep pace with increasing demand for IT services, we must find ways to work together to increase efficiency and reduce operational and capital expenses.  

With new leadership in both health care and the university, how can we know the direction to integrate IT across campus will stick? Shouldn’t we wait until all of the new leaders are on board?

We believe the direction the current leadership has put us on is the right path—one we would have pursued on our own in time. The CIOs have worked together for three decades and have a strong, trusting relationship. We see many compelling reasons for our organizations to work together. For many IT services, scale is important. We can leverage complementary strengths of our organizations and advocate as a unified voice for the IT needs of the institution. OneIT and HCIS both excel in providing high-quality, widely appreciated IT services. Working together will help us maintain that excellence.

What does integration mean—is it a merger?

This effort isn't a takeover, or a merger. We aren’t integrating the staff of HCIS into ITS, and this is not an “org chart exercise.” Many unique solutions are possible—one size does not fit all.

This effort is an integration of systems, services, and efforts. There may be some organizational changes when it makes sense for a team or service, but it’s not a wholesale organizational consolidation.

Are either HCIS or OneIT going to disappear as organizational entities?

No. The clinical enterprise has a significant and constant need for new technology. HCIS will continue to exist to meet that need, as OneIT will continue to meet the needs of the academic enterprise.

Are we shifting clinical IT systems over to campus support or campus-managed systems?

No. The clinical enterprise has a different set of functional requirements from academic, research, and administrative systems on campus. If we identify a way to support the clinical enterprise with a different solution that meets all the functional requirements, doesn’t negatively impact service, and reduces costs, we will consider that option.

Is integration an effort to reduce staff?

Integration isn’t a strategy to eliminate IT staff. With reliance on technology increasing, we are exploring ways we can work together to free up experienced, talented staff to work on the critical IT needs that provide the most value to the university.

Progress and next steps

What progress have we made so far?

We didn't plan to start until summer 2018, but some opportunities presented themselves sooner, so we took advantage of them. We’re ahead in some areas and perhaps a bit behind in others—but overall, we are pleased with the progress. We have already achieved some significant milestones.

•    Electronic Identity: Regular meetings are occurring to discuss this complex area. The teams have identified some initial opportunities, and already have some collaborative activities underway.
•    Telephony: HCIS will provide session border controllers service to OneIT. For emergency notification, HCIS will use the same vendor as OneIT.
•    IT Security: The IT security offices were combined under Chief Information Security Officer Shari Lewison’s leadership.
•    Data Center: Facilities operations are under assessment, and likely ITS will provide services.
•    Assessments just began to examine opportunities in email, service desk, and telephony.

How fast are we, or should we be, moving with this effort?

There is not a set timeline; we will move forward as quickly as feasible, being mindful of workloads and careful planning. We envision integration as a gradual, multi-year process that will evolve along the way.

We’ve had a few opportunities present themselves and been able to move forward quickly, but we recognize that many of our opportunities are complex and will take time to assess. Current systems and processes have developed over many years, with many strong reasons for their design. Complex issues need careful analysis. We must ensure that our reviews are thoughtful and comprehensive.

Even after analysis is complete and decisions are made, implementation will take time. We need to maintain current systems and advance important institutional projects, so we need to be careful with staff time.

What will happen next?

We will keep moving forward with activities already underway, building on progress we have made. Assessments will continue, including the three that just began (telephony, email, and service desk). We will learn from the assessments and execute on those that show promise, while also evaluating new opportunities that arise.

What if an opportunity doesn't pan out?

We have control of our efforts and direction and can adapt if needed, as long as we’re taking advantage of the best opportunities to work together to improve IT on campus. With limited IT resources and growing demand for services, we can’t afford to dedicate resources to opportunities that don’t appear to have merit. We will need to have the flexibility to change course as the best opportunities emerge.

Working together

How are we going to work together?

We will work together in many different ways and scenarios; one size does not fit all. Possibilities include: sharing best practices, combining groups, providing services jointly or for each other, utilizing vendors to provide a service, or maintaining separate services.

How should I work with my peers?

If you have existing contacts with peers, feel free to reach out to share best practices and directions, and to grow your professional network. If you don’t, you can talk with your supervisor about getting in touch with your counterparts if you think it would be helpful.

What should I do if I have any idea for an opportunity?

It’s important to approach integration in a coordinated manner, so if you have an idea for working together please share it with your supervisor so the joint leadership of HCIS and OneIT can evaluate it.

Culture is important to organizations. HCIS and OneIT have differences in their culture. How will this be addressed?

We understand culture is an important aspect of any organization. Addressing it will be critical to our success. We’ll need to recognize cultural differences, and also what cultural norms are consistent across groups. We are not trying to create a single, unified culture, but it is important to understand differences in organizational culture and learn to interface. Culture is complex and it may influence how we address IT service redesign, service delivery, and even staff interactions. We must be respectful of each other’s perspectives and experiences as we work together, and cautious about making assumptions based solely on our own context and culture. Remembering that we are all working towards the same goal of providing high-quality, efficient service should help us succeed.

Budgets on campus are very tight – how will this new collaboration impact the budgets of the two different groups?

First, we need to recognize that going through the effort to align some services will take time and likely will cost money. If that alignment is in the best long-term interest of the organization, we will need to work with other leaders on campus to identify funding strategies that can accomplish the goals without negatively impacting one group or the other. The financial support for ongoing operations for services that have been redesigned due to these collaborative efforts will require thoughtful review with IT and financial leaders to identify the optimal, equitable funding model for all involved parties.  

How does this initiative impact the design and support for new enterprise services going forward?

We need to have the discipline to thoroughly review tools and solutions we already have on campus before going to the marketplace for new IT solutions. If we do need new tools to support new services, we will need to collaborate across OneIT and HCIS to identify solutions that bring optimal value to the entire institution and are designed to fit within our existing architecture and support services.

What integration means for staff

How is this going to impact me?

It’s important to understand that these activities will impact everyone differently. Some staff will see almost no change, some will be right in the middle of the action.

Am I going to start reporting to someone new?

We are exploring how to improve the IT experience for all customers on campus and looking for ways to support enterprise services more efficiently. If we identify opportunities that support these goals, we will work with the relevant teams to determine how best to realize the opportunity. There may be cases in which pursuing the opportunity is best accomplished by changing team structures, but there may also be cases where that isn’t necessary or even optimal. This is not an exercise simply to change org charts.

Our plate is already full. How can we do more?

We understand this, and we can’t ignore it. Team capacity and workload will be a consideration during assessments. While assessments and implementations take time, we believe that pursuing these opportunities for integration will help us keep up with increasing demand for IT services in the long run.

How can I keep track of what is going on?

Communication is important, and we will share updates on integration through our regular communication channels—meetings, emails, intranet sites, etc. If you have suggestions on how to best share progress and status, please let us know.

As a staff member, what can I do to help make this successful?

We ask that staff be flexible and understand this is still evolving—we don’t have all the answers yet. We hope you’ll engage in developing ideas, opportunities, and solutions. We should also keep in mind that colleagues may feel differently about changes related to integration, and try to support each other.