2.4.9 How can the Senior Management Team (SMT) improve its contribution to developing strategic ICT?

The importance of ICT to the success of HEIs has grown to reflect the mission critical role that ICT plays in its operational capacity and its ability to support institutional agility, sustainability and transformation.

This demands that ICT is high on the agenda of the SMT, where business vision and strategy development may require an insight and understanding of ICT. The Dearing Report8 recommended:

'that higher education institutions should develop managers who combine a deep understanding of Communications and Information Technology with senior management experience.'

However, despite this our research reveals that there are still relatively few managers with this range of experience within or supporting the SMTs. There are some alternative approaches to injecting more experience and understanding of ICT that the SMT can consider:

  • supporting and encouraging the use of Leadership Foundation development programmes by senior management team members and aspiring senior managers to increase awareness and understanding of the ICT issues and good practice within HE
  • Current LFHE courses are listed below and full details are available at The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Supporting Individual Leaders9

    • The Agile University
    • Senior Strategic Leadership, Leading in Challenging Times
    • Preparing for Senior Strategic Leadership, Meeting the Challenge
    • Future leaders Programme
    • Head of Department Programme, Making Change Happen
  • appointing a Chief Information Officer or equivalent senior ICT manager onto the SMT to distil the required levels of ICT knowledge within strategy discussions. ICT personnel are reputed to communicate less well as a result of their technical vocabulary but today's ICT professionals and specifically Chief Information Officers are able to articulate business solutions and contribute to business discussions using their wealth of experience
  • encouraging appropriate consultation and communications channels, between the Senior Management Team and Chief Information Officers, or ICT senior management, to support ICT awareness
  • encouraging the use of appropriate horizon scanning activities to support the visioning within institutional corporate planning. By involving CIOs, or other appropriate ICT senior management an institution gains valuable input and contribution. The process of strategic planning and management is clearly presented in the JISC infoNet, The Importance of Strategy10; it highlights the importance of environmental scanning

The toolkit offers further supportive information that explores the other enablers of strategic ICT as well as providing case studies and good practice advice. The self-analysis framework will allow your institution to model its strategic maturity in the deployment of ICT and follow a process for the investigation and assessment of business changes that will create improved maturity.