IT Operating Model | Your questions answered
This is a summary of the questions asked during the IT Operating Model (ITOM) presentations in January and February 2022
The Q&A is split into several sections:
- New ways of working – ITOM and Agile
- IT staff roles, working environment and wellbeing
- Prioritisation and governance
- Customer service and consultation
- IT Service Desk
How will you define the success of the new ITOM?
Through a combination of subjective and objective measures. Subjective measures will be fed back via our current routes – for example, the IT Steering Group and the IT Customer Voice forums, and our staff.
Objective measures will measure our performance against a series of new Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), that we will use to monitor our progress.
Are there longer-term plans to roll out Agile methodology beyond IT to services, so we can align projects better?
Agile will necessitate that we work with you differently, so there will be an opportunity for people outside of IT to learn more about Agile this way.
We expect to see Agile adopted more broadly than just within IT, however, this will take time to implement and embed. We will start this journey within IT and with colleagues in the Transformation Office.
Have you used any third parties/consultancies to design the new ITOM or has it been designed internally?
We have worked with a small number of third parties to develop the ITOM, making use of their knowledge and challenging our thinking. The vision and ambition for IT Services come from the IT Leadership team. We have also incorporated input from:
- people around the University
- input from workshops with over 60 members of IT Services.
- interviews in 2019 with customers across the University to find out what they wanted and needed from IT
Is there any update on the role of the IT User Rep in the new ITOM?
Not at this stage, however, we will take this away and investigate this further.
How long will it take to introduce the new ITOM and when will customers experience a difference?
Some of the changes in the ITOM are small improvements that we are already implementing as part of our Service Excellence project.
We’re planning to deliver the full set of ITOM changes in phases. The first phase is with our Cyber Security team, and this has already started. We expect to start implementing the Data Services ITOM following this.
We plan to share our thinking about the next level of detail with colleagues in IT Services in March, for us to listen and collaborate.
New processes and ways of working do take time to embed, but you should see noticeable differences by the end of the calendar year.
What can we do to reduce staff anxiety relating to the new ITOM, given this is a significant change?
We have been regularly updating IT staff about the ITOM on a regular, often weekly, basis. We have also formed a Change Champions group within IT. Part of their role is to understand in a little more detail what we're doing and to then help teams understand more about it and the opportunities it will bring. We know that getting to this point has taken longer than it ideally should have, but to reduce anxiety now we are continuing with regular, clear communications, sharing as much information as quickly as possible.
We have previously told IT Services that we are not planning any redundancies as part of introducing the ITOM. It is not about reducing the number of people – we are investing in more roles and greater capacity, and in development opportunities for our people.
For the wider University, we are running sessions such as the ITOM roadshows and taking feedback from them. We will continue to run these regularly.
What will you do to recruit people with the right skills, given the historic struggle to attract and retain IT talent?
There’s a lot of work taking place to improve the way we attract and retain our people. We’ve recruited more HR support to help us with this and organisational learning and development support who will, amongst other areas, support us in effective transformational change, cultural development and career mapping. We’re also looking to improve the initial joining experience with an engaging onboarding platform to ensure the best start for new members of staff and equipping them with everything they need to know from day 1 including learning and development opportunities. Retaining people starts with them feeling they have a fulfilling role, a great team culture, supportive management and career progression opportunities.
The marketplace is challenging at the moment, especially as people have realised they can be hired from any location and work remotely. The University is a great place to work, with a strong mission, values and a commitment to a fairer future for all, but we don’t make enough of that. We need to get the message right and be clear about it.
We also need to make it easier and quicker for people to apply for roles at the University. We need to understand the journey potential employees go on, and how that compares to elsewhere. We also need to modernise our recruitment practices and diversify our candidate base and then effectively engage with candidates.
In conjunction with this, we also need to look at our own pipeline for talent and how we can engage with University of Leeds graduates and what creative opportunities we can offer. We need to explore everything from work experience placements to offering roles which embed a qualification or skillset. We have already introduced apprenticeships into IT but we can do more in this space to support our talent development and attracting a more diverse range of candidates. Therefore, we are going to invest in a new ‘Digital Academy’ within IT which will focus on innovative ways to maximise the graduate and apprenticeship offerings and work with key partners to build our talent from these opportunities.
We also need a clear policy on flexible working, and we are working on that. We should take advantage of the ability to hire people from any location, to support work-life balance with flexible working and so on. The other issue is pay. We do not always pay as well as other organisations in the IT sector, so we are looking at that as well.
Is the IT Services building going to be modernised?
We know the current offices are not ideal and we are working with Estates to look at other spaces that IT Services can use.
Are you looking at governance processes across the University and how IT Services works with other areas in the University (eg Business Change and Transformation Office)?
Collaboration is key to what we are doing. Dan Simms (Chief Information Officer) is currently consulting closely with Sharon Jones, Director of the Transformation Office and other senior stakeholders. The Transformation Office will coordinate strategic projects and we are working to understand which projects will go through the Transformation Office and which will be IT-led projects.
We are still developing the new processes, but eventually, everything will go through a triage step (to assess the job), before going to the University IT Prioritisation Group. At the moment, projects wait in a queue for resource to become available, but we need to discuss whether projects are high enough priority to pause existing projects and transfer the resources. We also need an annual prioritisation cycle, where known projects are planned in, rather than having to replan each month as new ideas are brought to us.
How do you see the prioritisation process working? At what level will it happen (UEG level, faculty level, etc)?
We ran a small change pilot, working with the IT Business Relationship Managers and the Faculty Ops managers, and looking at changes that would take around 10-15 days or less to deliver. At the moment, we have a lot of standard requests (eg “I need my account reset”) but no prioritisation. So in the pilot we looked at the prioritisation and approval process. It worked reasonably well, but we’re aware things may not work in the same way in different areas of the University. So, while we have a model, we expect to we’ll need to develop it further.
We already have a University-level prioritisation group that has been meeting for about a year. As the Transformation Office matures, we will be working with them on the process. Ideally there will be an annual planning process, so IT are not being asked on a month-by-month basis to deliver new projects.
Will users be able to set a priority level for their request, and how will this be evaluated by an IT prioritisation system or team?
This is an implementation question and we’re still working out the detail of this. The obvious danger in asking the person submitting the request or incident to judge this is that everyone sees their own work as a priority. Whatever approach we take in future, it has to be one that allows us to focus on the things that are genuinely high priority.
Is the IT funding model being looked at? We seem to fund projects instead of value streams
Currently the overall funding model for IT is very complicated, lacks clarity and may drive the wrong behaviour, both from IT and our customers. It involves a lot of recharging and invoicing monthly. We are looking at how we can simplify funding of the core IT service, but more discussion on this is needed.
Projects should be fully costed and the business case should include everything. Then, when we are building project teams, it should be possible to use that funding to build capability within IT. We need to have good forward planning so that we know what resources will be needed. At the moment, we don’t know what resource we need because projects are not planned annually and, since it can take 6-9 months to hire the right people, resourcing is difficult.
What will happen if service level agreements (SLAs) are not met in future?
Where service level performance is not being met on a consistent basis, a service improvement plan will be developed for the relevant area, detailing the specific actions that will be undertaken to improve performance including target dates and responsible teams or managers. This improvement plan will be shared with all relevant stakeholders, and updates will be communicated as progress is made to improve performance.
You’ve talked about various methods of communication. Will these be two-way?
Yes, across our channels we want to engage with our customers We are looking at implementing a webchat function with the Service Desk, and of course you will still be able to phone them. At a more strategic level, we also have the IT Customer Voice Group and IT Steering Group.
Will there be a named person in IT that a faculty contact can liaise with?
We already have Business Relationship Managers (BRMs), who deal with specific faculties and services. If there is someone in your faculty who they should be dealing with, please ask them to get in touch with their BRM.
What’s the scope of the Research IT consultation work?
Last year Red Oak ran a consultation exercise to understand the current IT provision for research, and where our research community needed it to develop. Over one hundred researchers nominated by the faculties – as well as those from IT, the Library, and other areas that work with research – met with Red Oak to represent a wide range of research interests and activity all the way from postgraduate researchers through to professors.
Red Oak has now produced a report with their findings and recommendations, and we have run a number of sessions to publicise these with the researchers who were part of the consultation and with the wider research community. We’ve had good feedback about some services, such as High Performance Computing, and not such good feedback about other areas. You can view recordings of these open sessions.
To ensure an ongoing relationship with our researchers, we have created a Research IT Engagement Community Team to continue this work. Through this, we have also been running other sessions about specific topics – including Privilege Access Management and research data archiving – to ensure we are involving researchers in the development of services that support them.
We’ll use the feedback from all of these research sessions to inform the Research IT business case currently in development and will work in this way to ensure ongoing alignment of our services with research need.
Will there be a replacement for SEED (Secure Electronic Environment for Data)?
Over the past few months, we’ve been working with our external consultancy partner, Red Oak, to understand the range of Research IT users and how we can best support them. The findings from this consultation are helping us to develop a new Research IT Strategy and business case. This will include the case for a replacement for SEED, storage that sits between LASER (for highly confidential research data) and standard platforms like OneDrive. We don’t have a short-term fix, but this is being addressed and we expect the business case to be finalised by Easter 2022.
Will there be a physical IT help desk where people can turn up in person? Will there be availability out of core hours (eg evenings and weekends?
The Service Desk is already available on campus, helping customers in person. A face-to-face service was obviously challenging during the pandemic, but it is operating now and we will look to expand it. We have not yet finalised plans for this year, but we are looking at making better use of existing facilities, such as in the Library. We want IT Services to be more visible and be more connected to our customers. Achieving this may be part of a phase two of the new ITOM.
You mentioned self-service (eg using a chatbot), but sometimes it’s much better to talk to someone. Will we still give customers this option?
We need to support the whole University, and with 50,000 customers the IT Service Desk is obviously very busy. So we need to look at supporting people in a combination of ways. We need to improve our Knowledge Base articles and make it easier to find the ones you need. If that doesn’t give you the right information, then we need to be able to put you in touch with people who can help. A chatbot will help you find the right information in the Knowledge Base, but also connect you to a member of the Service Desk if your question hasn’t been answered. We don’t want to disconnect customers from our people, but if we can deal with more queries through the Knowledge Base it will make our service quicker and allow us to offer a better service to the people who really need to talk to someone.
We aren’t implementing technology such as the chatbot to reduce the Service Desk, just the opposite, we are actually growing the Service Desk team. The purpose is just to improve the service to customers.