An effort is underway to review the University of Oregon's software applications with the goal of identifying opportunities to save resources and improve services.
The enterprise university applications project — the final project under the umbrella of Transform IT, the university's information technology restructuring process — will catalog the software currently in use at the UO and make recommendations for possible changes to the purchase, development, management and support of that software.
"In some cases, we may be able to reduce the number of applications, reduce our costs through volume discounts or enterprise licenses, and provide better tech support to campus by allowing IT staff to focus on fewer applications," said Jessie Minton, vice provost for information services and chief information officer. "By looking for such opportunities, this project will lay the groundwork for rationalizing the university's software applications and services."
She said that with so many unknowns around COVID-19, Information Services will use a flexible approach, noting that project work slowed down temporarily in late winter and early spring while UO IT staff focused on technology initiatives to support remote teaching, learning and work.
"However, the current situation makes it more important for us to pursue these efficiencies, not less," Minton said.
Many departments, schools and colleges currently provide similar software applications and services to the UO community, as detailed in several prior assessments. For example, a 2018 report for Transform IT found more than a dozen instances of software performing functions related to customer relationship management, each instance helping one or more departments manage relationships with their own constituents.
"When we have so many different units buying, creating, managing and supporting the same or similar kinds of software, we end up overpaying for services, duplicating work efforts across campus and blocking the flow of information throughout the institution," Minton said. "Now that our work rationalizing and reorganizing UO's tech support functions is well underway, it's time to take a look at all of the software UO buys and builds."
The software catalog now under development will provide visibility into the applications already available for use at the university, their funding and which IT groups support them. The enterprise university applications project team, staffed by representatives of IT groups throughout the university, will then make recommendations for possible changes.
This summer, Minton will review the project's recommendations with the Transform IT Steering Committee. After that, Information Services will begin making plans for further focused analysis, stakeholder engagement and implementation of the approved changes on a category-by-category basis. Implementation may involve the reorganization of IT staff who support applications in some categories.
The enterprise university applications project is running in parallel to Transform IT's ongoing user support implementation project and storage and backup analysis project, both of which have also been on hold due to COVID-19. The first staffing transitions into the new user support services team in Information Services, which had originally been planned for January or February and were later rescheduled for March, have now been rescheduled to late April.
Other transformative IT efforts underway at the university include the campus email project and the communications and collaborative technologies program, formerly referred to as unified communications, which has included the recent accelerated launches of Zoom and Dropbox.
More information about Transform IT is available on the Transform IT website, where Information Services posts updates at least every two weeks.
—By Nancy Novitski, University Communications