5.16.3 Technology Support – Infrastructure and Back Office

Background

Significant support of technology takes place in areas with less visibility than HelpDesks, computer labs, and frontline support staff. These services support infrastructure, development of information systems, and support of the back office technologies. The quality and availability of these support services, so critical to maintaining the technology leadership position that exists at SCSU, are the underpinnings of campus instructional and administrative areas.

A review of technology support positions at SCSU will show that technologies for the delivery of instruction and student services are supported by a variety of highly skilled and dedicated staff members:

Instructional systems support. Specialists in this area are charged with supporting electronic classrooms (both computer and multimedia technologies), T.V. studios, instructional management systems (primarily WebCT), and video conferencing.

Infrastructure and network services support. Specialists in this area are charged with network cabling, connectivity, design, troubleshooting and support, access points, and planned redundancy.

Server administration support. Specialists in this area are charged with information systems analysis, design, system implementation, and the maintenance of server systems. Servers are the main computer platforms for providing services such as e-mail, file space, backups, Web content, application distribution, instructional information systems, and database support. Centralized authentication and its integration are also key element areas of responsibility.

Web applications and Web content support. Specialists in this area are charged with developing standards and style guides for Web content, developing applications that deliver instructional or student services via the Web, and maintaining the overall SCSU Web presence.

Non-computer technology support. Specialists in this area are charged with supporting related information technologies, such as cable TV, scoreboards, satellite connectivity, and general telephone support and coordination.

In all these areas, the proper levels of support must be available, timely and appropriate training must be scheduled for support staff and end users (see 5.17), staff must be cross-trained to provide backup support, and collaboration and communication must take place across these diverse groups. This collaboration should include a shared common vision and formal planning for the future.

Goals

Over the next five years, the university will review, coordinate, evaluate, and realign as needed technology services provided by the infrastructure and back office support groups.

  • SCSU will institute active collaboration and communication among these groups and between these groups and other technology groups. Collaboration on campus-wide initiatives and support issues will be the rule.
  • Directors and supervisors will be held accountable for enabling collaboration, common goal setting, and regular and on-going communication.
  • Technologists in these groups are very specialized in their specific area. This specialization calls for focused training on a timely basis, cross-training to provide adequate backup coverage, and renewed efforts to recruit and retain skilled employees.
  • The ad hoc campus-wide technology support staff meeting will be formalized.
  • The level of resources directed at support areas will be reviewed periodically, reallocated where appropriate, and additional resources secured where needed.

Specific Actions and Timeline

The following schedule will be adhered to rather than the standard timeline for carrying out and reporting on specific actions:
  • Annually by early June, the directors or supervisors of the infrastructure and back office service areas will meet to share information and seek common goals for the following Fiscal Year. This will be a formal arrangement with written goals and agreements on timeframe and collaboration. The results will be shared with the director’s or supervisor’s immediate supervisor.
  • Beginning Fall Semester 2003, and each fall after that, the directors or supervisors of the infrastructure and back office service areas will meet with the specific objective of identifying collaboration opportunities. This collaboration may be directed within a group or across groups.
  • Beginning Fall Semester 2003, the campus-wide technology support staff meeting will be formalized to
    • identify a person to schedule, arrange, and facilitate the meeting
    • establish a periodic meeting schedule
    • establish a mandatory attendance policy for technologists.
  • Training for these technologists will be consistent with the training plan identified in section 5.17.
  • Annually, the Dean of LR&TS and the Director of CIS-AdC will review service support staffing levels and develop recommendations for reallocation or additional resources.

Resources

Several of the support areas listed here are expected to grow during the five years of this plan. As the SCSU Web presence grows, additional resources will be required to support that growth. Electronic classroom support, instructional management systems support, video conferencing, more server based services, and general technology growth call for additional resources, both human and direct expenditures for tools and training.

While undefined at this time, the expectation is that additional resources will be required and that additional resources will be allocated in step with the recommendations in the action items above.

Evaluation

  • Is there active and improved collaboration and communication between infrastructure and back office technology groups so that a common vision and plan is clearly understood by each group member?
  • Are the supervisors enabling broad communication and common goal setting?
  • Are these technologists being trained in their specialized areas?
  • Is the work force cross-trained?
  • Has the ad hoc campus-wide technology support staff meeting been formalized?
  • Are employees with specialized skills being recruited and retained?
  • Are resource levels for support areas being reviewed periodically and resources being reallocated or additional resources secured where needed?
  • Has the committee submitted a final report to TLTR in the spring of 2008?
  • Has the committee, in the spring of 2008, forwarded recommendations for the next cycle of technology planning?

Revised: May 2003