The University of Montana’s information technology staff are working to shore up inefficiencies amid budget cuts after several staff members took buyouts last year.
Chief Information Officer Matt Riley and President Sheila Stearns launched OneIT in April 2017, and the OneIT team released its final report in October. On Oct. 17, the University announced a staff buyout offer to reduce costs. The staff who took the offer have left, and IT is now dealing with those personnel losses as it implements OneIT.
Riley said IT lost 10 or 11 employees, depending on who counts as IT staff. They include the head of accessible technology and three staff on the web team.
Kayla Pierson is the only remaining web team staff member. She said the most obvious impact of the buyouts will be response times.
“If bugs are reported or things need to be fixed, it’s going to take a little longer for me to manage those requests,” she said, though she intends to keep the noticeable effects to a minimum.
Riley said some web professionals would return in FY19.
IT is also working on stabilizing its budget. At the IT Senate meeting on Jan. 23, Riley announced IT will suspend upgrades for classroom technology, like projectors and Wi-Fi, for nearly three years due to a one-time funding reduction.
“We can support what we have with a good plan,” Riley said, referring to the 122 classrooms IT has equipped. “Where it gets a little dicey is if we went into a fourth year.”
By then, he said, IT will need to replace a lot of the equipment.
“The budget situation is not helpful to OneIT” Riley said.
Stearns’ recommendations, informed by the Academic Programs and Administrative Services task force, said “IT should continue to refine and operationalize” the OneIT plan. President Seth Bodnar’s office did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
At IT Senate, however, Riley said, “[Bodnar] wants to see us move on these recommendations from OneIT.”
Jesse Neidigh in Student Affairs IT co-led one of the OneIT teams, and IT Senate nominated him to head up implementation. He said the OneIT team will form smaller groups to put recommendations into action, which began on Feb. 6. They do not have a timeline yet.
Neidigh said the UM Solutions Center is an example of what OneIT could do. The website launched on Jan. 17, creating a hub for IT support and self-help across campus.
“That’s been in the works for a few years, so we can’t totally claim that was a OneIT initiative, but it’s in the vein of OneIT,” Neidigh said.
Moving forward, Pierson said she hopes OneIT is “embraced as an opportunity.” Riley said the buyouts will probably enhance the OneIT initiative.
“We’re pretty darn efficient, and this is making us even more efficient.”