Miami University Information Technology (IT) Services announced in July it adopted a new organizational structure that would save the university $509,000 annually. IT Services achieved this savings by cutting 17 positions, 13 of which were already empty, according to Cathy McVey, senior director of IT communications and relationship management.
The reorganization was part of a list of recommendations made by the consulting firm Accenture. In fall 2011 Miami brought in Accenture to help IT Services reduce expenditures as part of a university-wide effort to save money.
Since IT Services knew in advance it would have to cut positions, it planned to cut as many vacant positions as possible to avoid eliminating filled positions, according to McVey.
“We knew this Accenture work was coming and so as somebody would retire or move on to somewhere else, we held a number of positions open knowing that we would have to be cutting positions,” McVey said. “And it’s so much easier to cut a position that doesn’t have a person in it.”
In addition, IT Services added seven new positions, some to be filled internally and some to be filled through an external search.
Several IT Services employees were appointed to new positions during the reorganization such as Associate Vice President and Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO) Alan Ferrenberg. Formerly the Associate Vice President for Business and Infrastructure Services, Ferrenberg now heads up the IT Planning and Strategy unit, which sets up technology projects determined by the university’s needs and desires, determines what services IT Services can offer and what those services entail, as well as handling the business functions of IT Services.
McVey said while restructuring IT Services is a difficult process, the reorganization will allow IT Services to better meet the needs of the university.
There will be a committee made up of the vice presidents of the university (Vice President of Finance and Business Services, Vice President of Student Affairs, etc.) who will make decisions about which of the more costly and time-consuming projects the university should undertake, McVey said.
Ferrenberg said the reorganization will also allow students, faculty, and staff who are not familiar with IT Services’ structure to take better advantage of the department.
“People come to us and they want us to do something and they shouldn’t have to know how our organization works to get something done,” Ferrenberg said. “You don’t need to know the rulebook to interact with IT Services, that’s the goal.” IT Services reduced its number of sub-units from five to three: IT Planning and Strategy, Academic and Administrative Solutions and Infrastructure and Operations.
According to Ferrenberg, these three units connect groups within IT Services who complete similar functions. The Infrastructure and Operations unit includes the Support Desk, networking and the data center. The Academic and Administrative Solutions unit maintains existing services and applications, such as BannerWeb and Kronos and also develop new services and applications.
Formerly, the developers within IT Services would have to both maintain existing services and applications and develop new ones at the same time, but as a result of the reorganization, one group of developers can focus on maintaining features and one group can focus on developing new ones. “The people who are working on new and strategic projects will be able to focus on that more,” McVey said. “That’s not to say that if there’s a big crash of something that it’s not going to be all hands on deck, but on a day to day basis they will be focused on their projects.”
A few of the goals of the reorganization were to identify redundant positions and to reduce the number of managers, according to McVey. “As people have been here and performed well and get promotions frequently, to give them a path to be promoted means they end up being a manager or supervisor, not because they have good management or supervisory skills, but because that’s the only place we have to go,” McVey said. As a result of the reorganization there is now an average of six employees reporting to one manager instead of five employees reporting to one manager.