University of Wisconsin–Madison

Keep Calm and Carry On

Recent news of the Governor’s proposed budget cut for the University of Wisconsin System has many in our community asking questions about what this means for IT.

One thing it has not changed is the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s multi-year approach to reducing total institutional costs to deliver IT services.  Through Educational Innovation, Advanced Computing Initiative and the recently completed Administrative Excellence, the campus community charted directions to create long-term institutional savings or cost avoidance.  Examples of those efforts include Office 365, Campus Computing Infrastructure (Data Center Aggregation), the Advanced Computing Initiative, and the impending IT Decision Making process.  None of these initiatives are complete, and each has a chance to position us for greater efficiencies in the future.

Our campus leaders value strategy as the best path for making changes that are prudent and sustainable. Changes that will allow us the best chance to contain IT costs during a time in which we are increasingly relying on IT infrastructure and services to support our mission.  Anticipating these conditions, our leaders initiated a budget reduction scenarios exercise months ago.  DoIT Chief Operating Officer John Krogman and I began thinking through—with our teams—which services could be reduced or retired without affecting critical infrastructure or mission services.  Like other division heads, we presented a thoughtful plan that included neither across-the-board cuts, nor short-term emergency actions.

Some of the IT questions the campus has relate to reports you have read in the news.  Unfortunately, conjecture and uninformed multiple viewpoints are going to be shared via social media.  Until the budget process comes to a close with action from the Legislature, and acted upon by the Governor, we will just not know with complete certainty what is going to happen.  But I do know that our campus and System leaders know that wise decisions on IT services and related business process improvement is critical to lowering the “costs of doing business.”  My best advice at this time is to follow the famous words of Winston Churchill: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  Know that our senior leaders have charted a process in advance of this, and they are staying the course.  Watch for specific plans as they unfold.

I strongly encourage the IT community to commit to communicate more, and to help our campus with your leadership.  We all have differing levels of tolerance for risk and ambiguity, and at times differing viewpoints on local versus campus cost optimization.  Let’s acknowledge that some of us are going to need to help others work through this.  Business models are changing, and our leadership is going to be important to help our campus adapt to national and international trends.  We all have the individual capacity to dial up our game.  I am confident, if we work and pull together as one IT community, students, faculty, researchers, and administrators will realize better service, greater efficiencies and lower costs.

I look forward to working with you, and for our community to work with the rest of the UW-Madison community, to get to the other side of this challenge.  Let me know how we can help each other.