3 Case Studies

3.1 Institution A - Strategic Maturity

Institution Profile

Institution A is a major UK research-intensive university with a global reputation for academic excellence. The University is led and managed by the Vice-Chancellor and the Senior Management Team (SMT) who operate to a set of principles and agreed project related responsibilities. The SMT's remit is to exercise an integrated overview of the University's policies and resources through implementation of the Strategic Plan.

The University's information environment is provided, maintained and developed at the institutional level by Information Systems and Services (ISS) and the University Library, with different governance arrangements regarded as appropriate to each of them. The University sees no apparent benefit, at present, in service or value for money terms, in converging Library and IS Services; they are managed separately but work very closely together for the benefit of researchers, teachers, learners and the wider university community. While working closely together as service units on both strategic development and specific projects, both ISS and the Library operate in a number of partnership arrangements with other academic units and services within the University and externally. Given the pervasive nature of the information environment, the development of effective collaborative arrangements is seen as extremely important.

The Role of ICT

ICT plays a strategic role within the University as it is considered a 'pervasive institutional resource' and the Vice-Chancellor includes meetings on IT as top table items on his agenda.

ICT is provided through a central ISS function that supports and enables research, teaching and learning and the business of the University. The Director of ICT has an extensive IT background gained from the commercial sector and an excellent understanding of how his department can drive the University's current business as well as how it can be an active contributor of innovation in the future. He undertakes the role of a Chief Information Officer and reports to the Registrar.

Strategy Formulation & Implementation Process

Strategic planning is driven from the top as the institution's vision and mission are used to identify and develop a number of institutional objectives that are categorised by core functions, structures and corporate activities.

The Director of ICT is the central designer of and contributor to the Information Systems and Services (ISS) strategy and is also in charge of its implementation. He works with the Head Librarian in drafting the strategy which is validated through the Teaching and Learning, and Research Committees before approval by the Senior Management Team. In addition, the Director of ISS engages in consultation and orientation meetings weekly to ensure understanding and integration of the needs across the institution.

Maturity, Strengths and Constraints

The strengths of the strategy formation process are its clarity, integration, accountability and ownership, i.e. the clear decision-making process regarding the strategy formation and the allocation of tasks to people who hold the relevant knowledge.

A relative weakness is the lack of an institutional approach regarding the evaluation of strategy implementation. While there is a tracking of financial performance against targets, there is no measure for strategic achievement.

Institution A is one of the more advanced UK HEIs in its recognition and development of ICT as a transformational enabler. It can be seen to have achieved a strategic level of maturity in its formulation and delivery of strategic ICT, with some evidence of a 'transformational' approach being present.

Developing maturity

  • The key areas the institution has identified to enable greater maturity include:
  • Introducing institutional and functional performance measures using Key Performance Idicators (KPIs)
  • Introducing performance measures against strategy implementation
  • Improving awareness of ICT-related issues across the University administrators and academics
  • Improving the ICT staff's contribution to institutional strategy
  • Evaluating the impact of cloud computing