Now that the Victoria Day long weekend is behind us, I want to declare that summer is here! Or at least that is how I am choosing to embrace each day from now until September. Please join me in that mind set if you like. It means every day is a sunny day and you can wear white as much as you like!
There was a time in Higher Ed IT when we used to think of the summer as ‘project time’, a time of reduced operational demands that allowed for catch up projects to enhance or improve our infrastructure and systems. Disruptive maintenance and the release of new systems was often targeted for the 4 months from May to August, and new service features would be implemented in readiness for the return of our students in the fall.
There was also a time when it felt like these summer months had a more relaxed pace, with time to just think, explore new ideas, attend a conference or two and, in some cases, goof off. I *might* recall being an analyst at another university early in my career when it was not unheard of for a group of us to take a ‘long lunch’ at the Pergola driving range and batting cages because there ‘wasn’t that much going on’! That Guelph establishment no longer exists…there is a shopping plaza and movie theatre there – although quiet enough that you could hit a few golf balls without injuring anyone, these days.
I am betting most of you will agree that those ‘lazy hazy’ summer days are no longer the norm (if indeed ‘skipping school’ to hit the driving range was ever the norm). The truth is, we just don’t seem to have that luxury anymore: now that technology is embedded in all aspects of the university mission, operational demands are year round. And while disruption is tolerated in order to bring new system online or up to date, we know it is never really seen as ‘OK’. Add in a long list of McMaster IT Strategic initiatives and a pandemic’s worth of technology focused activities and post pandemic planning, and what do you get? A very busy group of McMaster IT professionals, and an equally busy summer stretching out before us!
One notable project that we hope will cause only minimal disruption, balanced with great rewards, is our McMaster Mail (powered by Microsoft 365) project which moves into high gear this week. As I like to say: “It’s Happening!” Before the summer is out, we will be able to enjoy the fully integrated collaboration benefits of the Microsoft 365 environment. This is an exciting step forward for workflow and collaboration amongst staff and faculty. Thank you in advance to everyone for supporting the migration as it unfolds over the next weeks, and to our Project Team who are ‘getting it done’, a big hat’s off to you!
Despite what feels like a never ending parade of activities and demands on our time, we also need to pace ourselves and enjoy the summer. This includes blocking vacation time away from your computer over these next few months. That may seem counter intuitive during a pandemic, however you still need to take a break, and what better time to do it than when the weather is nice? We are fortunate to live in an area where there are trails and green spaces, and a glimmer of hope that some of our recreational outlets will be opening. Golf courses are open now for example. And perhaps you will discover a new summer hobby like gardening or cycling, or painting outside, or watching birds? If all else fails, planning your next destination trip, even if you can’t go anywhere, is apparently good for your health, too. Dream a little!
That’s how I see IT for today – I hope you have a great week!