Monday, 13 September 2010
No longer the gatekeepers....
A couple of months ago I found myself presenting at a number of confereces - the theme seemed to be the same at all of them - what challenges are we facing as a sector, and how they might they shape the future of IT departments. Last Friday I repeated the talk, this time to the department. All staff were invited, although it was particularly relevant for the IT staff. Always interesting to see who turns up (or rather, who doesn't - I wonder if it's the same people who claim not to know what's going on and we don't communicate enough...).
I'm not going to repeat everything I said - anyone interested can watch it here. But my conclusions were that we have to become more flexible and agile - the days of the two year project are gone, we need to be thinking of development time in months or weeks. We need to simplify things and help the University become more efficient, and look at different service delivery models. Outsourcing, out-hosting, shared services - all need to be carefully considered so that we can focus our resources on supporting the University's key business objectives of teaching and research. This might need us to make some hard decisions, and in some cases reduce service levels or stop doing things completely. No longer the gatekeepers of information, we need to facilitate, help and educate our users to get the best out of systems and services we provide as well as those provided by others.
And we must continue to innovate - some might ask if we can afford to in these times of financial constraint, but I would argue that we can't afford not to. We will die as IT departments if we don't - we can't afford just to keep the lights on, we have to find new ways of doing things. It's all about getting the balance right, and deciding where resources should go.