Transforming an isolated IT department into a valued business partner
Loyola University Maryland is a Jesuit, Catholic university located in Baltimore, Maryland with approximately 6,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Similar to other institutions of higher learning, Loyola University Maryland is faced with the challenges of industry disruption, rising costs and increasing demands for service. The university’s IT department, charged with providing technology solutions for students, faculty and staff, was centrally organized, operated within silos and could not provide innovative solutions due to its complex processes around decision-making. The department also struggled to prioritize and execute the volume of requests coming from other departments within the university.
To start down the path to becoming a high-functioning IT department and a strategic asset to the university, Loyola engaged Hartman to assess the department and identify the misalignment with IT and the broader university community’s needs. Hartman partnered with Loyola University to create an IT department that is agile, highly engaged, accountable and knowledgeable about its users.
Hartman’s thorough, methodical IT assessment highlighted challenges related to systems, processes and people, including:
- Challenges in prioritizing and executing IT projects. Previously, there were more than 50 projects in the IT department’s pipeline at any given time, and users had limited exposure to priorities and decision-making.
- The need for more sophisticated technologies to meet the ways their constituents wanted to receive and access information.
- A sense of unmet demand from internal departments.
Departments throughout the university, including Student Services, Marketing and Finance/Human Resources, did not view the IT staff as knowledgeable about their business requirements, and felt they did not deliver projects that met the needs of students, parents, staff and administration.
Hartman partnered with Loyola’s IT management team to plan and move the organization, over a period of 18 months, to an agile IT organization focused on their internal university constituents. Improvements to date can be seen in several areas, including workflow and utilization of technology. The IT department has dramatically improved their performance in delivering projects that are on time, within budget, and that address constituent needs. The refined, documented process for rationalizing new projects enables the IT department to focus both on projects that require the full weight of project management and smaller initiatives that are addressed via a separate process. Additionally, the university is working toward moving their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to the cloud, which will remove the complexities associated with the on-premise system and enable the staff to focus on innovation, rather that software releases and incident response.
The financial impact of these changes, which also included restructuring the department to align it more closely with the school’s strategic goals, has delivered a net savings of almost $200,000 operating and $500,000 capital expenses to date. According to Randall Gentzler, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, even with these savings, the changes have allowed the IT department to strengthen its operations and its credibility, while expanding and enhancing the services they provide to constituents.
Loyola’s technology transformation illustrates several best practices for aligning technology and business goals. It also addresses why institutions of higher education need to plan their IT investments carefully, to remain competitive and keep up with expectations of students, faculty and staff.