Transforming a college or university’s IT service organization from order taker to strategic innovator may seem like an unrealistic objective, especially when faced with budget and resource limitations. That’s precisely what’s happening though at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Overland Park, KS. JCCC has deployed TeamDynamix (TDX), a cloud-based work management platform designed specifically for higher education, to transform their service organization.
“If you’re trying to develop a strategic plan for your college or university, and you want to align your technology with that plan, TeamDynamix gives you the platform to do that and to be very strategic in the process,” says Tom Pagano, Chief Information Officer at JCCC.
When Pagano first arrived at JCCC a year and a half ago, he says the school was already using TDX, but only in a limited fashion. They mostly used it to manage campus services, such as maintenance and custodial work. “The IT Service Management group, however, had made the decision to go with TDX and start using it for basic ticket reporting incidents,” he says.
The IT group wasn’t quite sure how it was going to work for information services. “Nevertheless, they felt there were some licensing advantages,” says Pagano. “They knew at some point they were going to want to have some integration across the campus.” Since then, as the IT group has implemented more of the TDX platform, they’ve gone from basic ticket and incident tracking to looking at the bigger picture of project management and resource allocation and how to use TDX to estimate project resources.
As Pagano and his team have discovered, the TDX tool helps the Technology Governance Group at JCCC to see the business needs, resource availability, and financial information to support decision-making through a single view. “TDX helps me generate data that is helpful in answering questions from our Technology Governance Group,” he says. “For example, let’s say we’re going to buy XYZ system that’s going to track student navigation throughout the campus so we can better direct them to things like math or English resource centers. The Technology Governance might want to know how many resources it’s going to take to put that project in.”
This helps Pagano and his team when addressing governance issues with hard data. “I can now use real data to answer their questions, instead of giving them just a gut feeling for the numbers,” he says. “When you start to do that, it basically becomes an iterative process to see how you maximize these assets to achieve organizational goals. You can’t do that unless you have history and have a system that’s flexible enough to provide you with that kind of data. That’s how TDX is used strategically here. It helps me become very transparent with the leadership group so they see data before they have to ask me for it. They see where their dollars are being allocated.”
TDX is also helping the IT group at JCCC to better serve the campus. “And that’s not just strategically and resource management-wise,” says Pagano. “We’ve had a huge demand to further implement it from other departments, such as the marketing department and other departments that work off a ticketing request and project system similar to ours. They can see how we are using it and how we’re applying it and then they can apply it or implement it in a similar way. That allows us to look at not only IS resources but other department resources across the organization.”
Another benefit of the TDX ITSM tool is it streamlines the work and increases efficiency. “When a student or teacher or employee of the college calls in,” he says, “it allows us to track/log what it is that they’re calling about and what kind of service they need, whether it’s something relatively simple like a problem with a screen or drive, or a training issue, such as helping the customer understand how to attach a document, or an urgent issue, such as a major network problem.”
In each one of those scenarios, TDX helps the JCCC IT staff examine each issue and determine if it’s a one-time thing, a training issue, or a widespread issue that is growing quickly. “It helps you quickly triage the issues and get them to the right people to answer the question or fix the problem quickly,” he says.
In terms of advice for other CIOs and their teams, Pagano stresses that it is important to understand the university’s culture. “Not every organization, whether it is a big university or small junior college, is prepared to put in the necessary work in order to get the data out of it,” he says. “It can be construed as a scary or threatening type of thing because at the end of the day it takes everybody to record the activities.”
As Pagano points out, there is a fine line between tracking every minute a person has and really looking at what that person does. “It’s not a time-keeping system at all,” he says. “It’s not a payroll system. It’s trying to
get a sense of what is each project manager is doing in a typical day or over a period of months without being overly detailed or micromanaging.”
Pagano believes having the right mindset is critical. “If you don’t have the right mindset in the culture,” he says, “you won’t get buy-in. People will feel threatened by it. They’ll think you’re looking at their time when it’s really about the aggregate. It’s important to help them see how their numbers plug into the big picture of the college.”
There was initially some real fear at JCCC, says Pagano. “When we first started implementing it in IS, there was some real fear that this was the first step in outsourcing their jobs,” he says. “But by meeting with small groups over a period of months, I was able to turn that around and it went from fear to questions about how to use the system and make it better. As a result, there has been real change in the culture at JCCC just in the last year.” Finally, it is important to work with a company you can trust and rely on, says Pagano. “TeamDynamix is flexible and nimble to work with. I’ve worked with thousands of vendors over the years, and TeamDynamix is really a partner. You don’t necessarily find that with every company.”
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