IT Strategic Plan Principles

Guiding principles are simple, direct statements which describe how an organization wants to behave in the long term. These principles are intended to establish a context for operational decisions in IT areas across campus. They should help translate operations and mission criteria into a language that all employees can understand. As with all parts of the strategic plan, they will require periodic revisiting to ensure relevance.

1. University technology principles apply to all of Brown. We will seek to work together rather than to create duplicate solutions.
The idea behind developing principles at the University level is to ensure that all IT functions operate in the best interests of the entire user community. Brown's scarce resources should be focused on areas directly related to its core functions. It is not an effective use of Brown resources for multiple departments to be developing different systems which perform substantially the same function. Therefore, departments may have to compromise at times and adopt an enterprise system which provides the necessary functionality and can be supported at a lower cost. There are two main implications to this principle. Shared services and technologies must be developed in a consultation with the constituents it serves. Individual departments who knowingly duplicate one another's efforts will cause all of Brown to have fewer resources available to direct to strategic priorities. Failure to embrace this principle will result in continued growth of haves and have nots and duplication of effort.

2. We will employ open standards and best practices where feasible and define university technology architecture. We will favor technology options that embrace open standards and best practices rather than proprietary approaches. As a community, we will create a regularly updated technology architecture that will guide us in our decisions.

3. We will promote an environment that provides protection from unauthorized or inadvertent access, sabotage or disasters and ensures the availability, integrity and confidentiality of information yet does not unduly hinder the university from conducting business as usual.
The teaching, research and scholarship of the Brown community are the University's greatest assets. The IT community has a responsibility to ensure that this collective investment is appropriately safeguarded from loss. We also have a responsibility to community members to keep personal data appropriately protected. Finally, IT must build business continuity into its service development plans in order that the most critical functions continue to be available in the event of a disaster.


4. Technology in support of administrative functions should fulfill basic requirements and not result in additional administrative overhead for faculty and students.
The Plan for Academic Enrichment outlines Brown's strategy for strengthening its position as one of the top institutions of higher education world-wide and building upon its existing academic excellence. IT resources must be focused on efforts which directly support Brown's priorities in the academic arena. In order to optimize the use of scarce resources, needs not directly identified as priorities in the PAE will be met with technology that is adequate but not necessarily leading edge or best in class.


5. We will provide and support tools and applications that facilitate electronic collaboration of the faculty, students and staff, over diverse locations, in line with university goals.
Brown's Plan for Academic Enrichment calls for the continued strengthening of the University's academic programs. One specific objective of this recommendation is to 'support the teaching mission of the faculty by providing increased resources for curricular development and collaborative pedagogy, including resources for multidisciplinary concentrations and innovative training in the sciences.' Brown's global aspirations necessitate that we facilitate the collaboration of scholars world-wide.


6. Encouraging exploration of technology innovation is important to Brown.
Innovation frequently occurs closest to local needs. We encourage faculty, staff and students in departments and central organizations to evaluate new technologies and to involve others in those efforts. We will create a formal process that defines how prototypes or pilots can be supported, evaluated, how they might be adopted as enterprise-wide services and how older services and technologies will be retired. We will be alert for potential opportunities created by 'disruptive technologies' and create pilots to evaluate their usefulness to Brown.


7. As a university community, we will adopt an IT service lifecycle process that provides robust and cost effective enterprise services.
We must focus our efforts; we cannot deploy every useful technology. In order to control costs, we will focus on deploying technology that is useful across the largest possible set of users, that can serve as the foundation and building blocks for more specialized services, and that is secure, stable, reliable, robust, well-documented, and easy with which to integrate. We must select technology tools that are cost-effective in both the short and the long-term and be rigorous about the processes by which we adopt, maintain and retire these tools.


8. Access to all electronically available information necessary to accomplish one's job should be provided, regardless of either the physical location of the user or the information.
University work often takes place off campus and IT should facilitate, to as great a degree as is financially reasonable, secure access to this information from anywhere in the world.


9. University data should be well defined and accurate. Wherever feasible, information will be captured once, as close to the authoritative source as possible, electronically validated and shared with those who need access.
The accuracy of university data is of great importance. To maximize data quality, several things need to occur. University data needs to be assigned to an owner or custodian who is responsible for its definition and accuracy. For each data element, the system of record and general means of access should be defined. Data integrity should be maximized by avoiding the re-keying of data. University data should be integrated rather than copied wherever feasible; however we should have robust and secure methods of sharing institutional data that can be useful in specialized systems at the local level.


10. We will provide training and support all approved technology tools purchased by the university.
To accomplish its teaching and research goals, the University requires technology tools. Faculty and administrators who depend on these tools should be able to count on the availability of training and support. The level of central training and support will vary depending on the criticality of the function and the number of people that use the tool. In some cases where the numbers of users are extremely small, it will fall to the academic or administrative department to provide this training and support. We will have a regular process to retire the use of outdated tools and technology.


11. We will consciously establish quality objectives for each IT service and measure performance against those objectives. We will proactively identify and efficiently resolve all issues associated with the quality of our services.
Users should understand what they can expect in terms of service availability and responsiveness. Service levels will vary depending on the classification of a service - e.g. pilot or production. In some cases, we may consciously choose that perfection is not the level of quality necessary and may seek 'good enough'.12. Academic and administrative users strive to communicate their needs and goals as completely and clearly as possible to their IT counterparts.
Technology projects are collaborative efforts between technology users and IT providers. Users must take their time to articulate their needs and goals in order that the selected technology supports the desired functionality. Providers must take the time to understand the needs and goals of users, and the larger context for them, prior to creating or procuring solutions. Projects should never be just about technology. Rather, they should be about the application of technology as part of a larger effort to improve a process or service or to enable a particular teaching or research activity.


13. Highly routine manual processes will be automated when real benefits can be documented.
The purpose of IT is to optimize people's talent and time; we will focus people talents on relationships and knowledge based tasks. We cannot afford to have people doing manual work that technology can do more effectively. Unattended operation, cost-effective automation of routine tasks and automation of deployment and provisioning are top priorities in any technological design and decision.


14. We will actively solicit input from users on product and service requirements and, to as great a degree as possible, will include their input in our technology decision making process.
The user community must have a forum in which to articulate their needs in order for tools and services to have the greatest possible likelihood of meeting those needs and being accepted by the community.