Monday, 16 February 2009

Influencing and the financial climate

Arrived in Edinburgh in time for lunch - free wifi on train too slow so used USB modem instead.
Good first day. Had a very thought provoking discussion on the financial climate and how it's affecting the University sector. Basically the challenges are:
  • Income from the funding councils – there won't be as much of it
  • Income from Research Councils - there won't be as much of it
  • Student expectations, especially the relatively poor performance of Russell Group Universities in the NSS affecting our reputation through the league tables which are particularly important in overseas recruitment. General consensus that the Russell Group has been too concerned with research to the detriment of teaching.
  • Cost pressures on pay, pensions, and utilities.
  • The need for a quality infrastructure - IT, buildings, equipment, library.
  • Internationalisation and increased competition.
So, faced with these financial challenges, we will have to do more for less. What will the role of IT be in this and how can IT help? Some suggestions:
  • Improve the efficiency of academic processes through IT
  • Sharing best practice in the use of IT
  • Business change through application of IT
  • Building an e-Infrastructure
The next session followed on nicely and we discussed how we can influence our Executive Boards - particularly when we might be looking for an investment in IT in order to bring about business improvements which could lead to cost savings. We looked at how best to demonstrate benefits of projects, and how to measure them afterwards. Who are the key people to influence, and what is the role of the CIO. Interesting discussion about KPIs and what the best ones are. Rather than just metrics, some are looking at a more narrative type approach, along the lines of what does IT help the University do, and what couldn't it do without us.

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