The IT governance structure, under the auspices of the Chief Information Office (CIO), establishes the strategic, operational, and technical decision-making process required to ensure IT enables the University to excel in its mission. IT governance provides strategic leadership, establishes campus-wide IT priorities and policies, and is accountable and transparent to the University community. The following diagram illustrates the committee structure for IT governance at the University.
General Responsibilities of IT Governance Committees
The IT governance structure as a whole is responsible for the following:
- Establishing and communicating a campus-wide IT vision that supports the University mission and goals
- Establishing IT policies that support strategic, campus-wide IT priorities
- Establishing an overall IT budget structure for total IT spend on campus, starting with ITS
- Defining technical architecture and standards for the University
- Establishing best practices and tools for IT across campus
IT Governance Values
For IT governance to be successful, the committees must hold the following values:
- Transparency — Governance structure and process must be clear. How decisions are made and who has input rights and decision-making rights must be readily apparent to campus.
- Communication — Communication must occur into, out of, and across the committees and with campus.
- Accountability — Committees and task forces must be held accountable for delivering on their responsibilities. Clear escalation paths for issue resolution must be defined and outlined in charter documentation.
- Responsibility — Governance structure must focus on decision making and results more so than implementation and project management.
- Appropriate representation — Constituency groups across campus must be represented.
- Active support — Governance structure requires staff to support the process. Agenda setting, meeting logistics, issue tracking, and communication are all essential aspects of active support.
Committee membership is designed to be representative of the campus population. Generally, members are selected to represent academic and research units of varying size, administrative units of varying size, and the student body. Specific details of the membership designated for each committee can be found in the SITAC Report.
Members are recommended to the current governance Chairs by governance members, by members of the campus community, or through a research process to identify potential members who represent a specific unit or group that is not currently represented in the governance membership. If specific expertise is desired or required for a particular project of governance, experts are researched and recommended to the governance Chairs. After recommendations are considered and research is conducted, committee members are finalized by and recommended to the President of the University by the current IT governance Chairs.
Members of each committee propose agenda items to be discussed in their respective committees. Agenda items can also be suggested by anyone in the UT community by directly contacting a committee member, a committee chair or the CIO's office. Agenda items reflect campus IT priorities and emergent topics and are collected on a monthly basis and organized into a timeline for presentation that is determined by the committee chairs and finalized by the Chief Information Officer. To support transparency and full participation, topic presenters are asked to create a one-page brief of their topic. These briefs are compiled with the meeting agenda, administered to the committee for discussion, and published on the CIO website.
The IT governance structure is supported by strategy, administrative and communications personnel who report to the Chief Information Officer.
Agendas, presentation briefs, and notes for each regularly-scheduled IT governance meeting are available on the respective committee web pages. In addition to the meeting notes and executive summaries, IT governance progress and updates are communicated via the CIO’s Weekly Update. Any policy related materialsare posted on the CIO website.
Some decisions and projects may need additional communications due to their scope. These communications will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
IT governance committees focus on setting direction, decision making, and ensuring accountability rather than implementation responsibilities or IT project management. Committees can, however, ask for and receive presentations and updates on projects from any project teams or steering committees as needed.
Projects are funded through four mechanisms; local funding, aggregate funding, aggregate funding with partial central support, and common good funding. Local funding is derived completely from the unit employing the service or administering the project. Examples of services that are completely funded by the local unit include Echo 360 and Computer Aided Design. Echo 360 is a service funded by Liberal Arts that is available to their unit and training for which is available for campus based on special agreements with their staff. Computer Aided Design is a service funded in total by Engineering to serve the specific needs of their population.
Aggregate funding involves the cooperation and coordination of funding through multiple units to save money by buying a service in bulk. By aggregating funds and purchasing power among and across units, the service can typically be acquired at a lower cost. Examples of those services purchased through aggregate funding include Media Site, Apple Educational Licensing, and general use CrashPlan. When a service funded aggregately is identified as essential to a majority of units across campus, it may qualify for partial funding from the central IT budget.
Common Good services are general and global in use. They are available to and serve all campus units and members. Examples include Encryption software, the IT Help Desk, CrashPlan, UT Mail, and Austin Exchange. Common Good services are funded entirely through the central budget.
|Aggregate Funding||Aggregate + Partial Central Subsidy||Common Good|
Policy and Funding Decisions and Exception Handling
Each committee in the IT governance structure is responsible for identifying and drafting IT policies for the University. Policy decisions are vetted by the CIO and through the entire governance structure. For example, a policy originating in the IT Architecture and Infrastructure Committee is vetted through the Operational IT Committee before endorsement by the Strategic IT Advisory Board. The CIO and committees may solicit the review and expertise of personnel outside of the governance structure in making policy decisions.
IT policy decisions are available on the policies page.
If decisions involve funding, they may first be vetted by the IT Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, the Business Services Committee, or the Research & Educational Technology Committee. Questions considered during the vetting process include the audience impacted or served, demand for the service, impact to campus, entities responsible for management of project or service, governance process for project or service, resources necessary to implement project or service, immediate and maintenance costs, timeline of project or service implementation. Funding decisions must be endorsed by the Operational IT Committee. The IT governance structure is also tasked with establishing processes for handling exceptions that meet unique business needs. Exceptions are also useful means for collecting feedback on current structures and determining when established standards become obsolete.
Subcommittees and Task Forces
Subcommittees are defined as ongoing groups responsible for issues and decisions in a certain area of IT at the University. Task forces are defined as time-bound groups assigned specific problems to solve or tasks to accomplish.
IT governance committees can form subcommittees and task forces as needed. Existing committees may be asked to establish formal relationships with the IT governance committees, such as the one created between the BSC and the Administrative IT Leaders groups.
There is an intermittent need to create task forces to investigate issues and explore different IT solutions. Task forces can be appointed by any of the IT governance committees on an as‐needed basis. The task forces meet for a set timeframe to accomplish specific objectives related to resolving an issue or implementing an IT strategy; they are not be considered standing or ongoing governing bodies. Task force membership can consist of IT governance committee members or any qualified personnel identified by IT governance committee members.
Customer Steering Committees
Customer steering committees serve as representative customer groups that work with IT project teams to determine the best course of action and to provide accountability for IT projects at the University. Customer steering committees help project teams:
- Develop a project charter that directs the project towards what customers need most from the service
- Create a thorough and effective communication plan to distribute information to affected customers across the University
- Refine the project plan and be accountable for changes to that plan
- Direct research about the project or service at the University and peer institutions
- Deliver the projects and services that the University truly needs
Customer steering committees may be called upon to present information and updates to IT governance committees.
In October 2008, President Powers convened the Strategic Information Technology Advisory Committee (SITAC) to identify and address core information technology issues facing The University of Texas at Austin.
The Committee was charged with developing and delivering a consensus vision for IT at the University. The President received the committee’s final report and recommendations on August 21, 2009. He agreed with the Committee's findings and endorsed the recommendations. IT Governance at the University is a direct result of SITAC’s recommendations.