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CIO100 2017 #31-100: Andy Keiller, University of Canterbury

  • Name Andy Keiller
  • Title Chief information officer
  • Company University of Canterbury
  • Commenced Role August 2012
  • Reporting Line Alex Hanlon, executive director, learning resources
  • Technology Function 119 IT staff
  • Related

    This year there has seen a significant refinement of our application and infrastructure “heatmaps”, says Andy Keiller, CIO at the University of Canterbury.

    He says a number of factors are involved in this and they include internal/external supportability, currency of environment, business "fit for purpose" as they assess major components of the programme.

    “This gives a very visual (red/amber/green) view of the components in our infrastructure. This is one of the key artefacts that is used to explain to the business how IT will invest its resources over the next three years, from a risk mitigation perspective to the introduction of new capabilities.”

    He says the project portfolio takes into account that around 70 per cent of internal staff resources and 80 per cent of the operational budgets are consumed with “keeping the lights on”.

    Simplicity is also a key focus with the complex university environment with its more than 150 business applications and 240 integration points between them.

    “The introduction of an API gateway this year has allowed rationalisation and standardisation of some of the key integrations,” he explains.

    “For those integration points that have been transitioned, there has been greater stability and reduced overheads in support.”

    “The journey continues,” Keiller points out.

    He says the university is still undergoing major reconstruction of its campus following the 2011 earthquakes.

    The need to ensure good communication and continued collaboration is essential, he says.

    “The introduction of Skype for Business, backed up with an extensive training programme has seen a significant increase in use of the many different communication channels available. Instant messaging (69,661 sessions) has become the largest, behind voice (2317 hours), with regards to communication.”

    The key technical challenge for the project was to emulate the reliance of the copper environment, says Keiller.

    Three planned failovers (and two unplanned) saw no loss of service and a minimal number of incidents logged with the IT service desk, which were mainly due to call quality, he says.

    The two key business drivers were to ensure minimum disruption to staff availability/communication and to remove risk and reliance on the legacy analog exchange. He says exchange is due to be decommissioned in mid-2017.

    Keiller says some of their major challenges the team faces ahead are agility and speed of deployment and leading disruptive technology-enabled changes.

    He says there are three key areas that need to be considered to ensure success in managing these: Ensuring there is a shared and clear understanding of business and pedagogical outcomes; creating and developing good customer relationships; and clear and targeted communications.

    Critical communications

    “As CIO, I am accountable for keeping the IT risks at an acceptable level and will recommend where it will be prudent to invest on business as usual,” says Keiller.

    He says the team carries out an annual "call out" for business projects, with a potential IT implication. Submissions are prioritised using a number of factors. The key is they align with the university’s strategic objectives and contribute to the recruitment and retention of students, he states.

    “This prioritisation is carried out by a subgroup of the senior management team (SMT) and is advised by myself, with the final recommendations being endorsed by the full SMT. This is then programmed into the ITS Portfolio to assess achievability and timelines.”

    The IT team engages with business units across the university using a range of methods. He believes, however, that the most effective engagements are face-to-face.

    Thus, the IT team members hold monthly reporting of key performance indicators, quarterly meetings with the distributed IT teams in the colleges, annual meetings with the college/service units management teams and annual reporting and review workshops for the IT strategy.

    “The measure of success is qualitative inasmuch that the College and Service Units are now seeking advice guidance and support from IT services, and the number of ‘surprises’ is on the decrease,” says Keiller.

    Rodney Fletcher

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