IT workstream

A service-oriented reorganization of IT services will ensure exceptional systems support, supply hardware and software to all of our campuses, and maximize funding available for our core mission of teaching and research.

We all recognize a high-performing IT infrastructure is essential to empower excellence in teaching and research, as well as ensuring we are supported by fit-for-purpose, enterprise-wide business systems.


Latest updates

Latest updates


Service catalogue

Developed in consultation with staff from across the university, service catalogues provide a list of activities and services in a particular functional portfolio and determine where those services would be best placed within the model. For more information on the intent of the catalogues and how they were developed, please read this article.

IT Service Catalogue


IT stream approach

The IT stream is divided into three phases: discover, prepare, and transition. The purpose of the IT discovery phase is to gather information about the current state of our IT infrastructure. Information gathered during this phase helps to inform the IT service transition approach. For more information on the IT stream’s findings and identified priorities, watch this recorded presentation. The prepare phase for the IT workstream focused on analyzing the IT discovery data, prioritizing the IT service transitions, and working with the project delivery teams to identify required resources and timelines for the transition. The final phase focuses on transitioning IT services into the new operating model. For more information on the IT transition roadmap, which outlines the order in which IT staff and services will transition into the new administrative model, view our presentation

We have an incredible set of talented professionals at the U of A, who can help develop a new IT environment that will foster collaboration and leverage the expertise across our campuses. We will need your help in ensuring that our work in the IT stream will be seen as a resounding success for our university. Though significant change is needed, we are confident, that together, we will establish a new IT model that achieves this vision.

IT operating model

IT Operating Model

Diagram explaining the IT workstream administrative operating model:

  • A member of the U of A community (staff, faculty, or student) makes requests to one of two service entry-points:
    • Service partner:
      • Staff and faculty request strategy assistance of service partners (embedded in colleges and faculties).
      • The service partners work with the Centres of Expertise to develop the right strategy for the community member's needs.
      • Then service partners communicate back to the community member with a solution/answer.
    • Staff Service Centre:
      • Staff and faculty make requests of the Staff Service Centre.
      • The Staff Service Centre either resolves the request immediately or sends the request to the Transaction Processing Hub to process it.
      • The Transaction Processing Hub either processes the request or works with the Centres of Expertise to process it.
      • The IT unit in the Transaction Processing Hub will include services such as conferencing and telephones, end-user support (self service, basic remote support), and business capability and process automation (robotic process automation).
      • Then the Staff Service Centre communicates back to the community member with a solution/answer.
    • The Centres of Expertise produce policies, strategy, and standards followed by the rest of the service providers, and help to process requests from the service partners, Shared Services, and Student Service Centre. In IT, they are made up of the following teams:
      • Enterprise Applications
      • Digital Infrastructure
      • IT Service Excellence
      • Chief Information Security Officer
      • Digital Learning Environment
      • Research Computing

IT service transition activities

IT transition roadmap

IT Transition Roadmap

  • Foundational IT
    • March to mid-September: Network & Cabling
    • March to mid-September: Data Centres
    • March to mid-September: IT Security
    • March to early-November: IT Service Desk
  • Desktop and Server Support
    • March to September: Desktop Support Transition
    • March to September: Server Support Transition
  • Distributed Services
    • March to December: Servers
    • March to end-January: Applications
  • Shared Spaces
    • March to August: Classrooms, Meeting Spaces & AV
    • March to August: Computer Labs
  • Additional Services
    • March to end-January: IT Service Management
    • May to end-July: IT Project Management
    • Early-October to late December: Telephones

Throughout the transition of IT services, faculties and units will be engaged in the following activities:

  1. Kick-off: Establish the IT service transition plan, expectations, and timeline within the faculty/unit. Confirm working groups, review roles and responsibilities, and confirm next steps.
  2. Identify impacts: Understand existing service delivery expectations. Identify issues that impact the faculty/unit.
  3. Gather detailed data: Conduct automated IT discovery and analyze data. Gather IT documentation.
  4. Plan the service transition: Determine how to address service gaps. Create a detailed transition plan for the faculty/unit.
  5. Transition the service: Confirm readiness and transition the IT service to the appropriate Centre(s) of Expertise.
  6. Validate: Verify the transition was successful, identify, and address gaps. Update plan with lessons learned.

Note: IT service rationalization activities will commence after the IT services have been transitioned to the IST Centres of Expertise.


Career opportunities

To view upcoming position opportunities in IT, please check the SET Position Opportunities Page (otherwise known as “POP”) regularly. Once a position has been finalized and the competition launched, you can apply to it on the U of A Careers page.


Membership

The IT stream consists of the following project team members:

  • Mike MacGregor — AVP and Chief Information Officer — Executive Sponsor
  • Kyle Murray — Vice Dean, Alberta School of Business — Executive Sponsor
  • Glen Sabatier — Project Manager
  • Brendan Clauson — Project Manager, Applications Transition
  • Svetlana Remnyakova— Business Analyst
  • Alec Sawitsky — Business Analyst
  • Kazim Hussain — Organization Design
  • Sara Horseman — Financial Analyst
  • Irene Lumsdon — Change Management Specialist

Consultation and engagement events

  • September 9, 2021: Formally kick-off NDS Transition with Facilities & Operations
  • August 20, 2021: Formally kick-off NDS Transition with Campus Services
  • August 11, 2021: Formally kick-off IT Transition with Faculty of Arts
  • July 29, 2021: Formally kick-off NDS Transition with Engineering
  • July 26, 2021: Formally kick-off NDS Transition with Rehab Medicine
  • July 22, 2021: Formally kickoff IT transition activities with Advancement, External Relations
  • May 31, 2021: Formally kick-off  IT transition activities with HRS 
  • May 31, 2021: Formally kick-off IT transition activities with the Alberta School of Business
  • May 27, 2021: Formally kick-off IT transition activities with the Faculty of Education
  • May 6, 2021: Formally kick-off IT transition activities with Campus Saint-Jean 
  • April 29, 2021: Formally kick-off  IT transition activities with Augustana
  • April 22, 2021: Formally kick-off IT transition activities with Library & Museums 
  • April 16, 2021: Formally kick-off IT transition activities with the Faculty of Nursing 
  • April 14, 2021: Formally kick-off IT transition activities with the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences
  • April 8, 2021: Review the IT transition scope details with President’s Executive Committee - Strategic 
  • April 5, 2021: Formally kick-off the IT transition activities with the Registrar’s Office and Student Services 
  • March 25, 2021: Formally kick-off the IT transition activities with Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry 
  • March 12, 2021: Formally kick-off the IT transition activities with Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation 
  • March 2021 - ongoing: Regular meetings with IT unit contacts to provide an update on transition activities, answer questions and share insights/feedback
  • March 2021 - April 2021: Individual meetings with faculties and central units to discuss the transition details, answer questions, and hear feedback on how to refine the approach
  • February 23, 2021: Share the IT Transition Roadmap with IT unit contacts & IST
  • February 19, 2021: Ask SET Anything: IT Edition
  • February 5, 2021: Shared IT discovery findings and priorities with IT unit contacts & IST
  • November 30, 2020 - end of January, 2021: IT discovery debrief with IT unit contacts
  • November 6, 2020 - May 2021: IT discovery weekly check-in with IT unit contacts
  • November 2-5, 2020: IT Discovery Toolkit with IT unit contacts & IST
  • October 28, 2020: IT discovery process & role with faculties
  • October 15, 2020: IT discovery process & Role with central units
  • October 6, 2020: IT discovery considerations with Deans' Council

Check the UAT consultation page for upcoming events


Frequently asked questions

Operating model
Is IST to become the central IT organization, and will it be restructured?

Yes, IST will be the central IT organization for the entire university. IST has recently completed a reorganization itself, as have all the units in the University Services and Finance (USF) portfolio. This was done in coordination with the new guiding principles of SET to ensure that the new structures are cohesive, fit the new operating model, and will provide the services needed to support the university into the future. The new structure can be found here.

[Updated September 23, 2021]

Is it correct that the IT functions will be consolidated amongst the six new IT Centres of Expertise?

The IT Centres of Expertise will include: Enterprise Applications, Digital Infrastructure, IT Service Excellence, Chief Information Security Officer, Digital Learning Environments, and Research Computing. As we understand the resource requirements to transition services from different areas to the centre, job families will be created. There will be expressions of interest processes for those new required resources. It will depend on what is transitioning when and what new job families are created, and then the expressions of interest processes will follow through accordingly. We will look to have as much information as possible on the Position Opportunities Page, so people can understand what is coming and when.

[Updated February 25, 2021]

What will be the strategy for managing changes and requests that do not fit the transactional model?

Transactional changes and requests would be handled by the Transaction Hub, via the Staff Service Centre or the Student Service Centre. Changes and requests that do not fit there would be routed to the relevant Centre of Expertise, either through the Transaction Hub or, more likely, through a Service Partner.

[Updated March 4, 2021]

What is the process for transitioning IT services within faculties/units into the new operating model?

In consultation with Deans and senior leaders, once a service or group of services is identified for transition into the new operating model, the SET IT project team will work with identified individuals within that faculty or unit to engage in transition activities. Details of the transition timelines will be shared as they are available.

Resource needs for each service will be identified and Expression of Interest (EOI) will be posted for open positions. People will transition into the new operating model/roles as these EOIs are filled.

Why are the IT Service Desk, IT Service Design and Improvement, and IT Service Delivery Process and Tools units not part of shared services? There seems to be equivalent units for HR and finance in shared services.

The continuous improvement unit within Shared Services will focus on all processes and services delivered by the Staff Service Centre and the Transaction Processing Hub. In the initial stages of rollout this is primarily HR and Finance related services. The IT Service Design and Improvement will be focused on the services delivered by IST. As for the operation of how clients will receive support, the Staff Service Centre will be the first level of contact for staff and the IT service desk is identified to transition into shared services. The IT Centres of Expertise will become Tier 2 support.

[Updated March 18, 2021]

Why is there an IT Service Excellence Centre of Expertise if service excellence is the purpose of shared services? How do these differ?

Service excellence is the driving force of the entire SET initiative - it is not solely limited to the Shared Services portfolio. In regards to IT in particular, service excellence was made a specific component of the IST organizational structure so that it would exist as much more than an abstract concept. In IST, service excellence is now a set of roles designed to support service delivery. Within the IT Service Excellence portfolio, we will have service design specialists whose responsibility is to create and evolve IST services to meet the university's needs.

[Updated March 18, 2021]

Will the majority of IT staff that are currently external to IST be placed among existing IST teams based on their current activities?
Staff within the faculties and units will not be placed directly within existing IST teams as IST has a new organizational structure. Additional resourcing requirements and services will be centralized through an expression of interest as that new structure is developed. As we develop a further understanding about the services offered in the faculties and units, we can identify what services are transitioning, and how those will be resourced. Our overall goal is to have that single point of contact for students, staff, and faculty. So while IST will be the central IT unit, many IT services will be accessed via the service centres: the Student Service Centre for students and the Staff Service Centre for staff and faculty.

[Updated February 25, 2021]
What are IST’s, SET’s, and faculties/units respective roles in the decision making process?
The decision to transition IT services into the new operating model was made by the Board of Governors under the UAT initiative. Decisions made within the SET IT functional workstream are made by the Executive Sponsors and SET IT project team after considering input from a variety of stakeholders which include the Deans, senior leaders, and IT leads from the faculties/units, as well as the IST service owners. If a decision needs to be made that is beyond the scope of the SET IT program, the project team would bring a decision request to the Service Excellence Steering Committee (SESC) for review.

[Updated March 4, 2021]
Services
Can you please give us some examples of IT services that will not be centralized and may remain within the faculties or other units?

One example is the interfacing and support for a dedicated piece of research equipment. If your lab has a mass spectrometer, the support for it would stay in the faculty, since we cannot support such a specialized function in any kind of scalable fashion.

Another example is trust-funded support for specific research projects. Research funding agencies like Canadian Foundation for Innovation put strict conditions on their grants regarding the allocation of time of staff hired and funded through those grants. For the period of the grant, they must be dedicated to the work specified in the grant. That means they must remain within the faculty.

[Updated February 25, 2021]

In what ways will IST scale up to meet the demands associated with the revised service catalogue? What types of positions will be added and what kind of commitments will be made in terms of maintaining or improving a similar level of support for faculties and units (e.g. wait times for responses to inquiries)?

Firstly, the IT stream is following the process that SET has established which is to: engage all IT units to discover the details of the services being offered, consult with team leads and subject matter experts in IST as to whether and how we currently support the same or similar services, assess any technical differences, assess incremental staffing needs — both in terms of skills and resources — and then post any positions required.

In terms of the types of positions that will be added, there are some obvious areas where sheer scale will dictate need, such as service desk, desktop support, server administration, and application development and maintenance. There are other areas that emerged from the discovery activity where we should be able to offer consistent, reliable, university-wide services by aggregating demand across faculties and colleges. Secure storage of research data is one example.

In regards to wait times for inquiries specifically, there are alternative approaches to just scaling up. For example, in the service desk area, self-serve and chatbots are reducing response times, increasing hours of support, and improving the service experience for students, faculty, and staff. That requires some additional staffing in new roles — experts in user experience, knowledge base creation, chatbot architecture, and more — but not the numbers that would otherwise be required to provide the increased scale and intensity of service. In addition, we will publish service targets for all services, and gather the data required to monitor service levels. Some of that data gathering can be automated (first-call resolution at the service desk, for example), while some will be qualitative, through surveys. This will enable informed and thoughtful conversations about service levels and user experience. Targets are useful guides, but they can lead to unintended consequences if not applied thoughtfully.

[Updated March 4, 2021]

Our network infrastructure is currently built on top of HPE infrastructure and for the most part, carries a lifetime warranty. What is the plan going forward? Will this infrastructure be integrated with the Campus Network or replaced with a different infrastructure that carries a yearly subscription fee?

Existing infrastructure will be operated as long as it can be supported while presenting tolerable failure rates and not presenting any cybersecurity risks. This applies to servers and storage, as well as networking equipment.

[Updated March 8, 2021]

When will you be addressing the need for adequate IT systems and applications?
The functional reviews are prioritizing processes to be reviewed for transferring into the hub. Initially the focus will be on processes, rather than systems, as system changes can take significant time to implement. We expect a systematic review of systems needs to begin in summer 2021, but there may be some immediate system requirements that will be in advance of this timeline.

[Updated March 12, 2021]
As IST receives many tickets regarding PeopleSoft, will a replacement system be considered when the contract comes due next?
Replacement of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system like PeopleSoft is a significant investment of both time and funds. Given our current budget situation, such an investment is not something that can be considered at this time. It is also important to note that many issues we encounter are often the result of poor processes, and replacement of the ERP alone would not resolve all concerns. As part of implementation of the new operating model, SET is focused on redesigning processes utilizing new technologies that can facilitate workflow and integrate with existing solutions like PeopleSoft.

In regards to available alternatives, PeopleSoft is one of the top five ERP’s used in postsecondary, particularly among larger institutions. The shift to cloud provision will likely create new alternatives that we may be able to take advantage of in the future. The recent contract renewal allows the market to mature and the university to get through its restructuring, while providing our IT teams to plan the future direction of our systems' needs based on the new operating model.

[Updated April 9, 2021]
What is the function of the new IT Remote Services unit in the shared services? How is it different from what IST provides?

The IT remote services identified under the Staff Service Centre is not meant to represent a new service but rather the role of the Staff Service Centre as Tier Zero (self-serve) and Tier One support for IT services that can be resolved remotely. The current IST help desk and client support analyst collectively provide a combination of Tier 0, Tier 1 and Tier 2 support. Shared services will be working with IST to transition the Tier 0 and Tier 1 services that can be delivered remotely into the Staff Service Centre. Tier 2 services will be delivered by the Centres of Expertise within IST.

[Updated April 21, 2021]

If you have questions relating to the University of Alberta for Tomorrow, Administrative or Academic restructuring, visit the U of A for Tomorrow FAQ.