Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Crowdsourcing your IT strategy

University of Michigan.
In 2008 massively decentralised. Had 193 desktop support systems, 125 networks, 44 email systems, 102 helpdesks!! Spending a lot on IT. I'm not really surprised.

So, formed central IT department, appointed a CIO. Had to produce a Campus Wide IT strategy. Had to represent the whole University, including all of their campuses which were relatively independent, all departments and units and all major staff and student roles. It had to provide direction, so chose rolling 5 year window, updated annually. Definitely not a wish list of IT projects. Needed a strategic plan that came with a well thought out and sustainable financial road map. Important that it had buy in.

Original process was to have an IT strategy team, interview people, write a document, take it back and socialise it. So, set off and interviewed the deans and senior staff and distilled notes into themes. But, how to get faculty buy in? So, interviewed and had workshops with 20 senior IT staff. Different needs became apparent. So, central IT senior managers developed the themes into strategies. But that didn't work as academics questioned their authority.

So decided to crowd source it. Faculty staff wrote the strategies, IT people, wrote how they would deliver it. Project team became facilitators and coaches. Used Google docs as the tool. The interviewees became the writers. No need to then socialise it because they had written it.

Took and extra year but was worth it. Process of getting the campus to work together was probably worth as much as the strategy. It was endorsed by Deans, academics, senior managers and students.

Now being reviewed and some parts being rewritten, by the faculty staff. Had become part of the culture.

Lessons learned:
The conversation is at least as important as the strategy. Distribute the ownership.
Get non IT people heavily involved in the process. Central IT need to be in the background.
Get it wrong to get it right. Give the community time to have multiple goes at it. Ask lots of questions. It's all about partnership.
Take advantage of collaboration technology. They used Google docs, and built a culture which accepted commenting on and editing other people's work.
Also used Google hangouts a lot.
You need a really good editor. Mustn't look like it was written by a committee, and be concise. Is a tendency to bloat with crowdsourcing. Need a disinterested third party to edit it. Also brought it into one voice and one writing style.
Have a strong champion at a high level.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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