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Testing and Extending Penn's New Model for Computing Services

February 27, 1997

Penn is testing and extending its new model for computing services. An implementation steering group guides and integrates the projects, which are described here.

EXTENDING THE NEW MODEL

Vetting administrative projects. The Provost and Executive Vice President have asked Penn to design a structure for vetting proposed new administrative restructuring projects. They are asking for a process to validate major projects with significant information technology components before they are presented to the Provost and EVP for approval. What are principles, for example, for effective and representative process teams to guide such projects? What are criteria for assessing risk and readiness? (Does the proposed project have a plan for assembling a suitable process team, for example? Does it have a workable funding strategy? Does it take Penn's technical architecture into account?) To design the new process, a group of 30-35 Penn stakeholders will be convened for two structured and interactive half-day retreats.

PILOT PROJECTS

In addition, pilot projects continue to test aspects of Penn's new model for computing services:

Support in residence: Phase 3 (frontline support as close as possible to users): Extend to all campus residences the successful pilot to deliver computing support in residence to Penn students.

Team leaders:
Al Filreis (School of Arts & Sciences)
Larry Moneta (University Life)
Rationalize network central services fee (network as regulated public utility): As a first step toward running Penn's network as a regulated public utility, rationalize the "central services fee," which covers network infrastructure. Determine appropriate services, service levels, and fees, and explore more strategic approaches to billing. Establish a proto "public utility commission," or governing board, to make these decisions in consultation with the Penn community.
Team leaders:
Ira Winston (School of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering)
Gerry McCartney (Wharton School)
Mike Palladino (Information Systems and Computing)
Services for providers of computing (secondary support): Begin putting in place a coherent and effective set of services directed to providers of computing in Penn's schools and units. Define performance measures, service-level agreements, and formal ways to get customer feedback. Determine organizational structures; resolve cross-ISC intake and resource allocation.
Team leaders:
Mark Aseltine (Graduate School of Fine Arts)
Mike Kearney (Information Systems and Computing)
Dispatch services (frontline support; sell services where it makes sense): Research the Penn market and develop a business plan for selling dispatch computing services (on-site computing support on a fee-per-incident basis). Example services might include configuring software and hardware, recovering files, and optimizing systems. Determine organizational structures; resolve cross-ISC intake and resource allocation. Phase II: If markets prove to exist, roll out initial services.

Team leaders:
Don Montabana (Information Systems and Computing)
Mike Provost (School of Veterinary Medicine)
Frontline support-for-hire (service bureau; primary support): Review and adapt for broader implementation the distributed staffing program of Penn's central computing group, in which local units contract with Information Systems and Computing to locate computing support staff on-site. Explore market needs and develop a formal business plan. Determine organizational structures; resolve cross-ISC intake and resource allocation.
Team leaders:
Don Montabana (Information Systems and Computing)
Mike Provost (School of Veterinary Medicine)
Link help desks across campus (frontline support; services for providers of computing): Link help desks across campus by sharing software that tracks problems and solutions. Set common standards and practices for using the software. Arts & Sciences and ISC will initially deploy the software; the Library and the Engineering and Medical Schools will help shape the implementation.
Team leaders:
Katie McGee (School of Arts & Sciences)
Mike Kearney (Information Systems and Computing)
BEYOND PILOT STAGE

Other pilots have already moved to steady state--or to larger arenas. Descriptions of those original pilot projects are listed here.

Support in residence for students (frontline support as close as possible to users): Pilot the viability of moving to residence-based frontline computing support for undergraduates; lay groundwork for transition. Begin with one residential unit and closely coordinate with broader efforts to restructure student services across the University.

Team leaders:
Al Filreis (School of Arts & Sciences)
Larry Moneta (University Life)
New learning spaces (process team): Explore innovative approaches to new "learning spaces" at Penn. Create financial incentives for Penn's public computer labs to replace their machines on a four-year cycle.
Team leaders:
Donna Milici (Information Systems and Computing)
James O'Donnell (ISC/Arts & Sciences)
John Smolen (University Life)
Facilities management-for-hire (secondary support; sell services where it makes sense): Improve, expand, and formalize ISC's program of facilities management, in which ISC provides technical and operational support for computer systems that belong to clients. Treat the recent contract with the School of Dental Medicine as a pilot to learn more about running this service as a business.
Team leaders:
Jim Galbally (School of Dental Medicine)


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