This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.
Approving Authority: Vice-President: Finance and Administration
Original Approval Date: September 29, 2023
Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: N/A
Office of Accountability: Information and Communication Technologies
Parent Policy: 4.15 Capital Budgeting Policy
1.0 IT Guiding Principles
1.1 Wilfrid Laurier University has a substantial investment in information technology (IT) and human resources that support IT applications, the training of users, and the ongoing maintenance of our IT systems. Given University’s dependency on IT, it is critical that our strategies for using computers, software solutions and applications, and other information tools are aligned with the institutional strategy, goals, and objectives.
1.2 Most members of the Laurier community are dependent on access to information to carry out their roles of teaching, learning, research, and administration. The investment in human resources to acquire, process and make use of information is enormous in a modern university. It is important that these investments maximally contribute to our success as an institution. Decision-makers must insist that IT be used efficiently and effectively, for they are ultimately accountable for the outcomes and the long-term success of the institution. When decisions are made concerning the use of IT, the outcomes of those decisions must be appropriately managed.
1.3 Key to this decision-making are the IT Project and Prioritization Procedures, including the project intake process and prioritization scorecard. The IT governance model enables and manages these processes. The governance model consists of partners from across Laurier’s campuses and provides an avenue for active participation in building the future of technology at Laurier.
1.4 In general terms, the guiding principles of IT project and prioritization are:
- IT applications should enhance the capability of the user.
- Information technology should be available and accessible, for any member of the user community, at their place of study or work.
- The University should provide integrated IT systems for all information services.
- Information technology should be provided in accordance with established University standards.
- When choosing IT solutions, the University should strive to use solutions that have been proven effective in similar applications, and where possible should use existing resources to avoid duplication of effort. Information should be effectively and efficiently used.
- The University will manage and observe data integrity and accuracy. Data are a valuable asset and should deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
- The impact of IT solutions should be considered from an institutional perspective, applying an enterprise lens.
- The University will maintain a minimum standard computer configuration and software to be used by the institution. Users may purchase equipment that does not conform to these recommendations recognizing that they will not be guaranteed access to the campus network, nor will they be guaranteed support by institutional consulting, training, or technical support.
- The University will update existing IT systems/infrastructure and services on a regular basis to maintain service standards, to keep up to date with security protocols, and to maintain legislative compliance.
2.0 IT Governance Overview
2.1 The IT governance model institutes a process by which the University endorses institutional decisions about IT, identifies the people who are responsible for endorsing and have the accountability for the results of those decisions, and implements committees that meet to discuss and help prioritize those decisions.
2.2 The guiding principles of IT governance:
- Align IT decisions with the University’s strategic goals.
- Manage the full portfolio of the University’s IT investments.
- Create and champion common University processes and practices.
- Leverage information technology intellectual capital.
- Optimize utilization of Laurier’s IT resources.
- Ensure regulatory and legal compliance for IT.
2.3 This governance model includes all IT initiatives across the institution, not just those within the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) department, and strives to be open and transparent where partners actively and regularly participate in guiding the future of multi-campus technology at the University. There are currently four committees within this model:
- Digital Executive Council (DEC): The overarching committee designed to provide governance oversight, reporting directly to Executive Leadership Team (ELT) on a regular basis.
- Digital Technology Steering Committee (DTSC): Focusing on new projects, enhancements, and operational issues for IT systems. All plans, projects, and priorities applicable to enterprise information systems are within this committee’s mandate.
- Teaching and Learning Steering Committee (TLSC): The systems governed by this committee include all learning management systems, distance learning technologies, classroom technologies, student labs, and their interaction with library systems.
- Security Advisory Working Group (SAWG): This committee provides a forum for regular discussions and resolution of information security issues affecting the university and provides guidelines and support to Information Security program and initiatives undertaken by ICT.
3.0 Process Overview
3.1 In recent years, many areas of the University have been focused on improving internal business processes and aligning digital transformation initiatives with Laurier’s strategic goals. Within the ICT team it has been vital to align and prioritize projects by assessing those that impact the institution as a whole and offer the University the greatest value or return on investment (ROI). The ability to prioritize projects using clear metrics, while examining the interrelationship with other areas across the university, is advantageous as we continue to strive to complete initiatives that will provide the most value to the university community.
3.2 As faculties and departments undertake the planning process for key IT projects as part of the annual budget submission process, departments will submit these IT projects centrally to align with the Digital Strategy and facilitate the enterprise review process.
3.3 The process to submit an IT project request is as follows:
- Submit the ICT Project Request Form.
- The questions on this form are designed to gather the initial information necessary to understand (at a high level) what the IT project request entails and what the initiator is hoping to achieve.
- The ICT Projects and Consulting Office will receive the form and review the information.
- A project intake meeting will be scheduled with the requester to review the request, discuss high-level requirements, and overall project objectives and goals.
- Once an initial project intake meeting is completed, the internal Project Prioritization Scorecard will be used to evaluate the project based on various factors (alignment with our digital strategy, institutional alignment, risk assessment, value-added, feasibility/change readiness assessment, etc.).
- Projects are then placed on the ICT Projects and Consulting list to be prioritized and/or funded. Class 3 projects will be added to the central IT Project List for prioritization.
- Class 3 projects are enterprise level projects, involving or impacting a significant number of end users and partners. The project is aligned with institutional goals and priorities or directly supports them. Class 3 projects can also be mandated by internal regulations or legal regulations. If a solution is out of support or end of life it would classify as a class 3 project. Major expected increase in revenue or decrease in costs would also classify a project as level 3.
- For reference, Class 2 projects are projects where multiple teams or departments may be impacted by or involved in the initiative. The project is aligned with some institutional strategies or is recommended by internal SMEs for compliance. The initiative may mitigate some risks or be expected to replace a solution that will be obsolete in a few years.
- Additionally, Class 1 projects are defined as projects that are local or focused within a single or few teams or similar departments. The project may be linked to one institutional goal or strategy or none. The project is not expected to mitigate any strategic risks after implementation and/or the existing solution is not facing obsolescence. The project may improve processes but will not significantly impact revenue or costs.
- DTSC will review the Project Prioritization Scorecard along with the IT Project List to assess prioritization and funding requests to be put forward for the annual budget submission for capital IT projects.
- Please note: The DTSC helps to determine the prioritized project list to put forward, but all project funding is assessed and awarded as part of the yearly fiscal budget process.
- The project will be added to the Digital Strategy Roadmap on a rolling basis based on successful funding and prioritization.
3.4 To effectively manage timelines, all new IT project requests for each upcoming year to be considered for prioritization and funding as part of the annual budget cycle are to be submitted by a stated deadline, which will be communicated to management and faculty leaders annually. Any project requests submitted after the stated date will be reviewed throughout the year but may experience delays outside of the established project portfolio management and prioritization process. All IT projects are to be submitted through this centralized process to help reduce duplicate budget submissions from multiple sources.
4.0 Project Intake and Prioritization Process
4.1 ICT receives IT project requests from various areas across the University, primarily:
- ICT-driven initiatives
- High-risk Projects Requests
- Requests from ICT Governance Committee members
- Initiatives from Faculties
- Initiatives from Researchers
- Initiatives submitted through the project request process
- Initiatives identified through Digital Strategy discussions
4.2 Process Steps
- All class 3 project requests are summarized into a single, centralized IT Project List that is accessible to and reviewed by DTSC.
- The DTSC reviews the prioritized project list, approving the top prioritized projects to be submitted for resourcing and funding as part of the annual budget submission process.
- The list is then shared with the DEC for review and approval before being submitted to the Budget Council. The Budget Council will review the submitted prioritized IT project list and will follow established and planning processes regarding investment approval and commitment.
- The Board will provide final approval of any investments.
4.3 It is important to emphasize that the IT Project List and Prioritized IT Project List for budget submission are focused on class 3 projects.
5.0 IT Project Prioritization Scorecard
5.1 The development and implementation of the institutional IT Project Prioritization Process and IT Project Prioritization Scorecard has enabled a standard practice for evaluation. The ability to apply the Scorecard to all submitted projects and leverage a score-based result helps minimize bias and rules evasion, enabling the identification of high impact/high value projects. This facilitates an equally assessed project list that can be included in the annual capital budget creation process.
5.2 All projects that are class 3 project are summarised into one IT Project List to be assessed via the Project Prioritization Scorecard. This project list is prioritized according to the scores, and this is the list that is shared with the DTSC for review and approval.
5.3 The IT Project Prioritization Scorecard contains four categories of assessment:
- Overall Institutional Alignment
- Enterprise Risks
- Financial Impact
- Feasibility/Change Readiness
6.0 Process and IT Project Prioritization Scorecard Change Management
6.1 On an annual basis, the CIO and Director, ICT Enterprise Solutions and Projects will review the process and scorecard with the DTSC to implement updates as required, following ICT’s standard change management process.
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