The university is in the process of building and adopting an information technology strategy to meet the challenges and opportunities associated with the rapidly evolving needs of IT at a leading higher education institution in the 21st century.

The  strategy describes IT solutions the university should pursue to help advance its core mission, enable innovation, and provide efficient and effective administration of the university.

The origins of the approach began several years ago when the U-M executive officers took steps to better align the university’s IT needs to the institution’s global mission. These steps included:

• Appointing Laura Patterson chief information officer with executive responsibility for coordination with and among the many unit IT organizations, and direct leadership of Information and Technology Services.

• Establishing an IT governance structure to assist the Executive Officers in making strategy, major IT investment, and policy decisions — the governance structure consists of the IT Executive Committee, IT Council, and various councils and committees consisting of deans, faculty, IT staff, administrators and students.

• Creating a high-level vision called NextGen Michigan, which endeavors to provide a campus IT environment that dramatically advances the university’s academic, teaching, research and clinical programs.

The IT Council subsequently commissioned the plan to develop an IT strategy that would consider the future of the university’s mission and define the IT environment needed to meet the challenges.

A brief history of information technology at U-M.

The initial version of the IT strategy, which the IT Executive Committee and IT Council endorsed last fall, is the result of a broad, collaborative endeavor that involved members of every section of the university community. All the deans and executive officers provided interviews, along with active engagement from within the governance structure.

Faculty from mission domains — representing teaching and learning, knowledge, research, and patient care — created visions and drafted their sections of the strategy. More than two hundred campus community members provided input via crowdsourcing.

Version 1.0 of the IT strategy is merely the first milestone. The IT Strategic Plan is designed to be a dynamic document that will evolve to meet the needs of the university and campus community.

To that end, members of the IT Council and Patterson are working with deans and campus unit representatives to help set up meetings in their units to review and discuss the IT strategy. Findings from those meetings will become part of subsequent versions of the strategy.

“The goal is not to impose a plan on the campus community, but to have an agreed upon roadmap to the next generation of technologies at Michigan,” Patterson said.

Next steps involve sharing the strategy broadly, with campus meetings continuing into the fall. The intent is to determine where the IT strategy accurately reflects or exceeds needs and where there are needs specific to individual schools, colleges, units, or departments that require more thought and definition.