2020-2024 Information Technology Strategic Plan for Auburn University

Goal 5: Technology as a Tool to Optimize Operational Excellence

"Auburn’s technology deployments will be optimized through the development of data services that contribute to institutional effectiveness."

IBM’s report on the Future State of Research Administration identified these four elements for success in creating a top-tier research enterprise: (1) People, (2) Process, (3) Technology, and (4) Environment. Technology provides the tools for people, process, environment, as well as continuous improvement.

Technology changes at an ever-increasing pace. Demands for continuous service improvement follow rapidly behind technological change, frequently driving the rate of adoption.

Cloud services have matured over the past five years, improving sourcing options for technology services. Effective security models, data center redundancy at scale, and high availability networks make delivering consumer-grade commercial services to campus constituents increasingly viable. Moreover, commercial vendors now operate at a scale that improves cost and resilience for services such as webhosting and personal productivity services (Email, Calendaring, Collaboration, and Storage).

Over the next five years, Auburn will transition into a hybrid model for IT service delivery. Where services are most effectively delivered in the commercial space, Auburn’s services will be moved to a cloud service provider. Where Auburn’s professionals can add value through direct interaction with the campus community, services will be maintained on premise. Where efficiency and resilience can be gained by a combination of models, services will be offered using the most cost-effective source.

Business process re-engineering must and will accompany technological enhancement. Technology alone does not solve business problems. Applying technology to poor business processes only exacerbates inefficiency and in some cases, increases the risk of poor outcomes. For example, 10 years ago, business managers had hours, if not days, to stop an erroneously issued paper check. In present day, an error in an electronic funds transfer can be whisked around the world in seconds, making correction almost impossible. Business process re-engineering must take these issues into consideration, develop new strategies and processes, and offer critical improvement to Auburn’s infrastructure modernization program.

Operational excellence cannot be achieved with faulty or unreliable data. Unreliable or faulty data leads decision makers to incorrect decisions that cost Auburn time, money, and momentum. Auburn is taking steps to improve data integrity in all areas. The new Data Governance team has refreshed and strengthened policies governing the appropriate use of data. Access to data is being reviewed, and unnecessary copies of locally-stored data are being replaced with centrally provided, authoritative sources. Over the course of this five-year plan, even greater emphasis will be placed on data governance, data management, and data protection.

Finally, peer collaboration helps optimize Auburn’s investments in technology. Auburn will continue to participate in purchasing consortiums that leverage the buying power of joint acquisition programs across Alabama and Higher Ed. Full participation in non-profit consortiums, Internet2, Southern Crossroads, and the newly formed Alabama Public Sector CIO Council will reduce costs for all participants.

Inherent in all Auburn technology services is the need to enable our entire campus population to fully and easily access these services. The IT community continues to strive for full compliance with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Web Accessibility Guide V2.1.

In summary, Auburn’s technology deployments will be optimized through the development of data services that contribute to institutional effectiveness. Improvements to service effectiveness will be built upon both the deployment of effective technology and thorough analysis of business processes and best practice. Auburn’s technology environment will be more resilient and efficient. Leveraging partnerships will optimize IT investments. All of these programs will establish the technological basis needed for improving operational effectiveness at Auburn.

Sub-goals Supporting Optimization of Infrastructure and Improvement of Operational Excellence

  • 5.1. Complete a business services risk analysis, investigate risk mitigation technologies, and deploy a suite of business continuity/disaster recovery solutions by the end of CY2021.
  • 5.2. Develop an Enterprise Performance Management plan and manage central technology to that plan. Complete the plan by the 3rd Quarter of CY2020.
  • 5.3. Continuously improve Auburn’s Intranet and Internet capacity over the next three years. By the end of CY2021, 100 Gbps Internet circuits will provide connectivity for teaching, learning, research, outreach, and business operations.
  • 5.4 Auburn’s Identity and Access Management services will support connectivity to all required services whether on premise or in the cloud. A system capable of providing authentication and authorization both on-premise and in the cloud will be implemented by the end of CY2020.
  • 5.5 Provide a set of technology services that help optimize information flow for all campus constituencies. There are multiple components to this sub-goal:
    • By the end of CY2021, a robust data governance plan, process, and toolset will be established.
    • By the end of CY2022, AU Access will be replaced with a more robust, current suite of Intranet tools.
    • By the end of CY2024, a document management system will allow for automated flow of documents and electronic signature across campus.
  • 5.6 Deploy “Geo-Fencing” capability that contributes to constituent safety, asset tracking, and visitor experiences. Initial pilot to be completed by the end of CY2020.
  • 5.7 Continue to refine and optimize virtual environment hosting. Provide campus units with cost effective options for hosting virtual environments within the central datacenter environment. By the end of FY2020, develop or refresh the portfolio of services that consists of service level agreements, complete with costs, for each of the virtual services OIT offers.

Corresponding Goals from the Auburn University Strategic Plan:

Goal 3: Impactful Service

Goal 6: Operational Excellence

Last Updated: February 25, 2020