Decisions about technology investments and services require strong collaboration between IS leaders and our academic and administrative partners. In the past, the University has successfully made these decisions through informal consultations, which are no longer enough to navigate all of the priorities that are out there. The University Strategic Plan is increasing the opportunities to use technology to support important institutional goals. But while these opportunities are exciting, resources do not allow us to do everything. Trade-offs need to be weighed - collaboratively.

“It is imperative for us to focus our precious resources on investments providing the best value for the University. IT Governance will facilitate alignment between digital investments, University strategy, goals, and priorities,” says Keith W. McIntosh, Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

Many institutions improve IT decision making by implementing stewardship and advisory structures, often called IT governance. IT governance creates the structures, processes, and policies to allocate resources to an established set of IT priorities. In addition to providing a process through which the University can evaluate and prioritize projects and investments in the context of institutional priorities and values, there are several other benefits to having a formal IT governance structure:

  • It establishes clear pathways for departments to propose new ideas and opportunities;
  • It enables shared objectives such as improving processes and data quality;
  • It coordinates decisions so one area’s project won’t adversely impact another’s;
  • It creates transparency and builds an understanding of IS operations and the full portfolio of IT initiatives;
  • It improves communication to help everyone use technology effectively.

This October, IT governance kicks off at the University of Richmond, with the inaugural meeting of the IT Governance Steering Committee at 3:00 on October 11 in Tyler Haynes Commons Room 305. The IT Governance Steering Committee, chaired by Keith W. “Mac” McIntosh, is the executive committee in our IT governance structure. The Steering Committee is supported by three advisory committees:

  • Data Management Committee, chaired by Melanie Jenkins (Institutional Effectiveness) and Troy Boroughs (Information Services)
  • Faculty Technology Committee, chaired by Lewis Barnett (Mathematics and Computer Science)
  • User Services and Experience Committee, chaired by Phillip Gravely (University Communications) and Doug West (Information Services).

How does IT governance work? It begins with a project request, an online form that collects basic information about the proposed project. Information Services then follows up with a project intake interview, which results in a score card that rates the complexity, risk, and return on investment for the project. Only high-level projects will go to governance: most projects will not need governance and will proceed with Information Services’ support.

Project proposals that do require governance will be advanced to one or more of the three advisory committees for review. Each committee will review the proposal, and will forward the project to the Steering Committee with a recommendation to proceed or not to proceed. If the recommendation is to proceed, the advisory committees will propose a priority for the project.

McIntosh says, “Information and technology in the digital era are assets that require the University to maximize value and realize the benefits of our investments. This involves a change in mindset as we embrace a focus on institutional priorities.”

The IT Governance Steering Committee will meet monthly to make decisions on whether the proposed project goes forward, and will assign a priority and a timeline to the project so that it can be added to the Information Services project portfolio. In this way, the University community can rest assured that IT projects are being weighed carefully and are considered in the light of the University’s strategic plan.