ITS Business & Administration

ITS Business & Administration

Cultivating a sense of community in ITS, and uniting IT professionals from all corners of campus

Business, financial, human resources, and strategic communications

ITS Business and Administration handles the business, financial, human resources, and strategic communications for the ITS organization, and supports the CIO broadly in his campus-wide responsibilities and facilitation of the IT communities.

In 2012-13, staff focused on enhancing both internal and external communication, refining the management of financial and human resources, and cultivating positive vendor interactions. ITS made great strides in restructuring its project and service categories, improving the way time-management data is collected, and simplifying how the cost of services ITS provides is measured. 

Staff also conducted annual campus-wide IT surveys to assess the satisfaction, usage and needs of campus technology users, and continued to encourage and support the IT communities on campus. ITS made great progress in guiding the campus to meet web accessibility standards and improving measured web accessibility scores.

Recruiting and retaining

Talented, motivated, and engaged staff are the core of ITS’ success, and recruiting, retaining and rewarding them is one of the organization's biggest challenges. To meet demand for IT personnel, ITS competes head-to-head with the private sector, and is constantly looking for talented IT professionals both within the university and externally. The competition also means ITS must strive to foster the advancements of its talented people so they know that their hard work is noticed and have opportunities for new challenges and professional development.

Often the best candidates for position openings are from within ITS or other UI departments, creating a need to backfill those positions. More than 12% of ITS staff were new employees in 2012-13 or changed positions within ITS. In this regard, it was a fairly typical year and highlights the importance of recruitment and retention efforts to keep ITS moving forward.  

Rewards and recognition

Several staff members were recognized with IOWA Awards they earned through their contributions to improving the UI workplace. ITS is proud of the fact that all of these awards were received in collaboration with other departments. Several employees earned career advancements and flexible pay awards in 2012-13, recognizing their progress and extraordinary contributions. 

The ITS Leadership Team held events like the annual soup cook-off and holiday luncheon, Meet & Greet networking sessions, and directors’ Q&A panel discussions; these activities aim to recognize and appreciate employees, foster a strong sense of community within the organization, and provide opportunities for feedback and interaction in a variety of venues.

Professional development opportunities

Development opportunities were offered to staff through the tuition reimbursement program, leadership programs, and technical training courses. In 2013 the IT Leadership Development Team, which includes representatives from ITS and other units on campus, planned the first IT Professional Development Day. The event was made possible with support from the CIO Office, and all 75 registration slots filled within minutes. The team also instated an IT Leadership Award, which was presented to Doug Eltoft of the College of Engineering at the Tech Forum in May.

In August of 2013, ITS hosted Drupal Corn 2013, a three-day statewide Drupal camp for developers, designers, and others who wanted to learn more about the web content-management system. Several ITS employees were involved with organizing the program and participated in the regional conference.

Working at Iowa Survey

In 2012, 85% of ITS staff members participated in the university’s Working at Iowa Survey. Results showed that 96% of ITS staff feel the organization is clear about what is expected of them, 92% feel the feedback they receive from their supervisor helps to improve their performance, and 91% said their supervisor acknowledges them for doing good work. In addition, 92% feel ITS supports a healthy work-life balance. 

In the past year, ITS staff members made considerable improvements in the areas of exercise, managing stress, nutrition, and weight management. Data from the university’s LiveWell program show that ITS staff members overall have moved to lower-risk health categories.  

Plans for 2014

In 2014, ITS will continue efforts to raise awareness on campus about the services it offers through several efforts: establishing a social media presence for the organization, continuing to refine the newly redesigned ITS website, and building strong relationships with leaders of other units on campus. Staff will put into production the updated cost-by-service reporting, and will reach out to all campus IT professionals to encourage involvement in the IT communities. 

Metrics will be another area of focus, as ITS works to define which metrics are most useful to collect, and how the data will be organized and distributed. ITS will consolidate its HR personnel into the Business and Administration department and work to make the new employee onboarding process more comprehensive and consistent. Next steps in web accessibility will focus on tracking efforts in this area, and on making online PDFs, multimedia, and instructional materials more accessible.

UI makes significant progress in web accessibility

The UI is committed to providing equal access to web resources for all individuals, regardless of ability, impairment, or environment.

Since approval of the campus web accessibility policy in October 2011, the ITS-led web accessibility efforts have focused on helping campus units assess and improve their websites. This has included over 700 site assessments, training, and development of self-assessment practices and reference materials. With the wide implementation of the SiteNow content-management system, accessibility assessment scores have continued to improve for new websites.

Results of the 2013 faculty/staff IT survey show that 58% of campus respondents are aware of the Web Accessibility Policy. Two recent comparisons of university websites show that in a limited measurement of key campus web pages, Iowa has made significant progress in comparison to its ranking in 2009, both among CIC institutions and against a national group of 226 institutions.

Next steps in web accessibility

In 2013, the scope of accessibility efforts expanded to include application development, administrative PDFs, and multimedia. These efforts will continue in 2014, with the addition of educational materials, and more focused training for web developers on specific accessibility concepts. 

Iowa is also an active participant in the CIC Information Technology Accessibility Group (CIC ITAG), sponsored by the CIOs of CIC institutions. In 2014, the Iowa web accessibility group will continue to collaborate with other CIC teams on accessibility projects addressing web design, media development, vendor relations, and assessment techniques. The outcomes of these projects are expected to yield a body of tools, standards, and practices that will improve accessibility across a spectrum of IT.

IT survey evaluates satisfaction levels, usage trends

The results of the 2013 campus-wide Faculty/Staff IT Survey showed that campus users continue to have high satisfaction with many core IT services. For 17 of the 20 satisfaction indicators measured, over 80% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the service. These results are consistent with measures collected in 2012 and 2013.

This survey was administered to all full-time faculty and staff outside UI Health Care, a total of 5,894 subjects. There were 2,535 responses to the 2013 survey, a response rate of 43%; this was nearly 1,000 more responses than in 2012. There were nearly 3,000 responses to five open-ended questions about how services could be improved, running to a total of 200 pages.

Growth in wireless devices and remote access to information

In addition to questions about service satisfaction and improvements, the survey sought information about how people use IT services. Results showed continuing growth in wireless devices and access to campus information away from the office.

Ownership of smartphones increased from 45% to 56% of the population; tablet use rose from 26% to 42%, a 61% increase. Over 70% responded that they read e-mail on a phone or tablet, and nearly 80% of the respondents use smart phones or tablets for UI business. Wireless usage jumped significantly, and satisfaction with wireless increased by 12 percentage points.

About half of the respondents are bringing personal technology to campus to conduct campus business.

Results specific to each college and business unit were distributed to the IT directors managing services in those units for their consideration and action. A comprehensive report showing results for the last three years is posted at

Centralizing ITS Human Resources and Financial and Accounting Transactions

To gain efficiencies and improve quality, ITS implemented shared services across all departments to centrally manage the human resources, accounting, and financial functions of the organization.

HR Training

ITS completed Gift Law, FERPA, and HIPAA training for staff throughout the year and was 100% compliant in sexual harassment prevention training of staff. ITS staff also received training on goals and performance reviews as the university transitions to an online tool as part of the My UI Career initiative.

Internal Communication Efforts

The ITS Leadership Team began hosting quarterly Meet & Greet and Q&A sessions for staff, providing new opportunities for relationship building, information sharing, and the exchange of ideas. The LT also began providing more detailed summaries of its biweekly meetings to keep staff up to date on projects, policies, and plans.

ITS Cost Recovery Billing

Using TNSConnect, ITS centralized all billing into one system and consistent process.

ITS Logo

ITS developed and implemented a new logo that incorporates the tagline “Connecting Campus,” and provides a fresh graphic identity for the new website. The logo is intended for use as a complement to the UI’s traditional dome logo to help ITS distinguish itself on campus. ITS received approval from campus marketing officials and began to utilize the branding elements in publications, websites, presentation slides, digital signage, and shirts for staff members. The new ITS Brand Manual is available here.

ITS Website Redesign

ITS launched a new website with a fresh, graphical look and feel. The new site features improved navigation (content organized by audience, and “information centers” to group support articles and related services). It utilizes the content-management system Drupal. Since the site’s launch, the website team has actively sought feedback through a number of mechanisms, and continues to make enhancements to ensure that users will be able to easily access the information they need and want. 

Social Media

In conjunction with the website redesign, ITS assessed how IT departments at peer institutions are using social media, investigated applicable policies and guidelines, and discussed how staff would manage and utilize social media platforms here at Iowa. This planning has prepared ITS to introduce a social media presence in the coming year.

Tech Forum

In both 2012 and 2013, ITS brought together more than 300 IT professionals from across campus for a daylong conference at the Iowa Memorial Union. The forum promotes collaboration in IT at the university by providing a networking opportunity and an introduction to UI IT Communities. In 2012, a poster session was added to provide additional exposure to IT communities and projects, and in 2013, the planning committee began using Twitter and Facebook as tools to promote the event.