April 2015 Shared Services Update: Academic Technology Support

 

This April marks the one-year anniversary of Academic Technology Support (ATS). ATS, which provides desktop, server, network, and voice support services to faculty and staff, has been hard at work over the past 12 months and I wanted to take a moment to update you on the progress made to date.

During the past 12 months, ATS has:

  • Transitioned 1,200 computers to ATS management, bringing the total number of machines to 7,000. Many of these machines are now being backed-up and encrypted for the first time.
  • Transitioned over 65 servers to ATS management. We plan to eliminate over 40 of these by taking advantage of central services, like UTBox (cloud-based file storage), Virtual Servers, and the University Data Center (our state of the art facility for hosting servers, the mainframe, and UTBackup, among others)
  • Documented 16 buildings’ telecommunications/network and implemented best practices in those areas (such as tracing and labeling all cables in the closets)

ATS’s goal is to provide good customer service, while also decreasing costs and improving IT management and compliance. ATS teams are distributed across campus in regional support offices called Desktop Operation Centers (DOCs). We have found that embedding support staff near their clients enriches the customer service experience and strengthens the relationship between ATS and the people they serve. The model has also provided staff with greater opportunities to learn from their colleagues. All staff are supervised by IT professionals, take part in relevant training, and receive meaningful feedback about their performance on a bi-weekly basis.

Through its recent expansion, ATS has maintained its high level of performance by building on its service-minded culture and by providing staff with the resources and authority necessary to resolve issues promptly and effectively.

For example, ATS leverages desktop computer management software, which allows for remote access to client machines (upon request). This software also enables ATS to mark a desktop computer as found in the University’s accounting system, to quickly identify machines that have not been encrypted or backed up, or to identify machines that are approaching end-of-life (so they can be replaced before they fail).

ATS has also benefited from its relationship with Information Technology Services (ITS). Brad Englert, Chief Information Officer, and our respective leadership teams meet weekly to discuss items of shared interest, and to make each other aware of challenges or opportunities that exist. These meetings have allowed both units to improve our operations in ways that benefit the campus as a whole.

Over the coming months, ATS will continue to improve processes and implement new tools, further develop our staff, and onboard additional clients on a strategic basis.

We look forward to offering our services to more clients, providing a rewarding environment to our staff, and returning even more savings to the core mission of the University.

Jamie Southerland
Associate Vice President for Shared Services and Business Transformation Initiatives