AVP & CTO Update November 26, 2018
It is the LAST week of November and I am in the throes of wintry contradictions:
- I have been in a few snowstorms already (up north, out east!) and didn’t like it one bit;
- I have broken out my super-duper winter coat and love wearing it as it is light and warm;
- I am glad that the most recent snow is already washed away and it is green again – not ready for snow;
- I am excited to get my fresh indoor Douglas Fir Tree (Christmas tree) on the weekend (and have already bought a few gifts)!
- Oh and …we passed the ‘one month til Christmas’ point yesterday, for those that celebrate on the 25th.
- We can start singing carols as of December 1!
I was at the CUCCIO meeting at Acadia University last week and didn’t send out my usual Monday update message on November 19 so I will share a condensed summary of the last two weeks to catch us up:
On Monday, November 12:
- I attended the Budget Committee meetings and answered questions about the three documents I submitted for 2019-2020: an IT Asset Management Refresh budget, the UTS Operation Budget, and a McMaster IT Strategic Plan projections document. The documents outline requests for additional funding for IT, both base and one-time funds.
- The IT Asset Management fund was initiated last year and will be maintained as an annual fund focused on ensuring IT infrastructure hardware is maintained and refreshed as it comes to end of life. We already have $1.2M set aside for this and have asked for a small increase to factor in our more recent calculations. The document sets out a replacement cycle based on end of life values for various assets, including network switches, access points, data centre hardware, etc.
- In the UTS Operating Budget, proposed increases include funds to cover licensing cost increases and other UTS specific funding needs, however most of the requests are tied to strategic initiatives outlined in the McMaster IT Strategic Plan. These requests are for initiatives that will begin in 2019-2020 and are mirrored in the IT Strategic Plan projections document. The largest single request for funding is for a campus wireless enhancement project at a projected cost of over $4M. The other strategic initiatives highlighted in our budget submissions include the data centre consolidation strategy, cyber security related initiatives, along with funding projections related to future outcomes from current activities endorsed by the IT Executive, including the Mobile App and CRM strategies.
- The total funds requested to move forward with initiatives in 2019_2020 are substantial, and the Budget Committee requested a detailed funding timeline to help with the evaluation of these priority requests – we are working on this for November 30.
On Tuesday, November 13:
- The IT Executive held its November meeting. Two key outcomes from that meeting include:
- Endorsement for a Grad Admissions renewal project that will begin immediately and will summarize requirements for a new Grad Admissions system, including an environmental scan of systems used by other institutions as well as cost assessments. The project will being immediately. This will be a first step towards a longer term Grad Admissions system project. This is an exciting step forward for McMaster and will be a very visible and critical project with full support from the Provost.
- Endorsement of the McMaster IT Strategic Plan, focusing on the articulation of the McMaster IT Vision, the three Strategic Pillars, and the key objectives. The initiatives presented in the IT Strategic Plan must each go through the IT Governance process after analysis and detailed proposals are developed. Funds will need to be requested as well, and the McMaster IT Strategic Plan projections document is providing some ability to plan for these costs. The endorsed plan includes a planning and evaluation life cycle to ensure the high level plan continues to reflect the needs of the institution and its priorities. All of this information will be shared when we finalize the plan and launch in January.
On Wednesday, November 14:
- I drove north of Barrie to a place called Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre for a wintry 2 day leadership retreat led by Meghan Kirwin. The retreat included leadership practices as well as mindfulness and silence based reflections. It was an amazing two days and I had a chance to reflect upon my goals and intentions for the upcoming year. The resort was lovely and, while sparse, it was very cosy and comfortable. And the vegetarian meals were amazing!
This past week, I attended the fall CUCCIO meetings at Acadia University starting on Monday, November 19 and finishing on Thursday, November 22.
- The CUCCIO Professional Development program for aspiring IT Leaders held an all day session on Tuesday, with the 2018 cohort of 13 people in attendance. We had two main sessions, one on Change Management with Peter de Jager, and the other on risk management with a local to Acadia facilitator, Michael Musial.
- The cohort stayed on to participate in the next two days of CUCCIO meetings. This was the last of three in person sessions for the cohort and marked the end of the year long program for aspiring IT Leaders. This was a ‘proof of concept’ and we have asked the cohort to share their feedback and will be taking forward a proposal to continue the program with some modifications. Organizers include myself, the CUCCIO Executive Director, Lori MacMullen, and the main facilitator, Robert Cook (retired CIO from UofT).
- The Ontario CIOs met for two hours on Tuesday also to discuss shared interest and initiatives. See the attached agenda.
- The CUCCIO meetings proper cover a range of topics. As an example, Bo Wandschneider (CIO at UofT) and I led a session on Digital Moments and strategic planning – we took the CIOs through a digital moment exercise. It was really well received – and fun. You can see the agenda, attached for your interest.
- There were two nights of winter storm weather while at Acadia – the power went out at our hotel on Tuesday night and stayed out through the start of the day. Luckily Acadia U was still charged up. The campus is beautiful, although we didn’t get to see as much as we might have liked due to cold and snow (and long meetings). I am attaching one or two pics for your viewing fun.
- I stayed on in Halifax for two more days for some sightseeing. Highlight was a Sarah Slean concert with Symphony Nova Scotia at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on Friday night.
What I have been reading:
- Dare To Lead, Brene Brown – for the second time. Another great book on leadership and culture within work places.
- Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor – I bought this book based on a recommendation at The Bookshelf in Guelph (great bookstore). It is an award winner. It is written a bit unconventionally – formless paragraphs and no attributed dialogue. It is sparse and yet it takes you in. I am still not sure what I think but if anyone wants to borrow the book, let me know.
What I am doing this coming week:
- I will finish and submit the 2019-2020 budget prioritization summary for Budget Committee.
- I will be attending the UniForum and Service Effectiveness Results Town Hall today at 1 PM in Wilson Hall.
- The MacBuy Town Hall is on Tuesday morning and I will be in attendance.
- I am attending one of the Campus Solutions sessions to learn what the 9.2 upgrade features have to offer.
- I have a number of other regular meetings and activities and will continue to catch up on email. If you are waiting to hear from me, thank you for your patience. If you are concerned that I may overlook your message, feel free to send again.
Have a great week everyone!