Office of Information Technology July 2020 Newsletter

Office of Information Technology July 2020 Newsletter


It was very encouraging to me (and I hope to you also) to see and hear Kelly's vision for how those who support technology at UVU will be able to collaborate and innovate as we move into the future. I'd like to thank everyone who participated, especially those who raised questions in pursuit of clarifying how we'll all be involved and affected. 

If you missed Kelly's all-hands meeting, please check it out in the OIT - Internal / General channel, where both the recording of the meeting and Kelly's slideshow are shared. There's a follow-up meeting scheduled for July 14, so be sure to attend that too! 

In the meeting, Kelly emphasized that our actions need to "Stay on Target" with UVU's Vision 2030 Plan. He encouraged each and every one of us to consider how to adopt a DevOps culture. Key to that culture, no matter what role you fulfill, are the concepts of: 

  • Get feedback early, to get things right
  • Find failures early (try things & test), to reduce wasted effort
  • Measure everything you do, to recognize normal and improved results

Kelly laid out a number of initiatives, along with some foundational items, to ensure we can implement the Vision 2030 Plan and develop a DevOps culture. While we have some of these foundational items already in place, there are some that need to be adjusted to meet the new goals. We are on a solid and forward-looking track to success! 

Brett McKeachnie
Interim AVP of OIT 


Employees scheduled to return to campus on July 6 will instead work remotely until August 3, 2020. If you have any questions regarding the return to campus, check


Have you seen a UVU staff member offering exceptional service or giving an exemplary performance? Remember to nominate them for the Wolverine Sighting Employee Recognition Award! 



An American flag waving in the wind.

Independence Day Holiday

In preparation for Independence Day, UVU has declared July 3 a school holiday. 

Independence Day 

On this day, we commemorate the birth of The United States of America. We remember and honor founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as the patriots who fought and died for our freedom. The history of Independence Day, like America's history, is complex and worth exploring. 

Pioneer Day Holiday 

Friday, July 24 is a school holiday. Pioneer Day is an important time to remember and celebrate local history. If you're interested in learning about Utah's pioneers, read up on the history of this unique state holiday.  

System Administrator Appreciation Day

System Administrator Appreciation Day exists to give some recognition to the hard-working individuals in IT who work behind the scenes to make sure that UVU's computers, printers, servers, and technology systems are working and in good condition. If you're curious, make sure to read about the history of System Administrator Appreciation Day. Thank you! 


As of June 30, these are the Top Ten priorities for all of IT:

  1. 2020 Classroom Technology
  2. Student Identity Improvements
  3. IT Process Maturity
  4. Student Progress Dashboard 
  5. FYE Budgeting 
  6. Monitoring
  7. POB to JSD Feasibility Investigation 
  8. Cloud Connectivity
  9. Develop Business Case for Modern Telephony
  10.  COVID-19 Response/Support  



The Crystal Reports server and the old Argos server are being shut off on July 1. Any reports still needed from those servers will need to be re-requested. 


The snowy peak of Mount Everest.

Audio/Video Services and Engineering 

Our department is working on a large classroom install to put lecture capture and video conferencing in every classroom on campus. This is on top of our large project list. 

Travis Tasker
Director of AVSE


As COVID-19 infections ravage Utah and Utah County, the date for the third wave of employees returning to campus has now been pushed from July 6 to August 3. Speak with your supervisor regarding any questions or concerns you may have about returning to campus, and to ensure that any work-from-home arrangements are handled appropriately. 

COVID-19 changes how, where, and even when we work as well as how we live. I encourage all of us to take care of ourselves and to use precautions to protect others with whom we come into contact. Since it's virtually impossible to know if we've been infected until we show symptoms, we each have an individual responsibility to take reasonable precautions to slow the spread of infection. We don't have to look far to see examples of the consequences of individuals being careless. Some of our friends and co-workers have been infected due to the irresponsible actions of others who disregarded the simple rules that keep us all safe. Many among us are considered "at-risk" or particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Let's do all that we can to avoid being the cause of someone else getting sick or even dying. Please follow the basic guidelines to protect yourself and others, whether at work or at home:

  1. DO NOT come to work if you are ill in any way. 
  2. Wear a mask when in public. 
  3. Wash/sanitize your hands often. 
  4. Cover your coughs and sneezes. 
  5. Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. 
  6. Keep six feet distance from other people. 


I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed serving as Interim AVP of IT! I'll soon be replaced by a couple of very capable permanent AVPs. I want to thank all of you for your support over the past six months. Even while under the mandates to "keep the lights on" and "avoid any strategic organizational changes," I've tried to help all of us improve ourselves and our processes. We've made several changes that, in my view, have added up to an overall improved culture--one that will serve all of us better as our new AVPs take the reins. They will have the responsibility and the ability to shape our culture and organization as we pursue our very strategic goal of digital transformation for UVU. 

Prior to COVID-19, we were following a great path to transform IT into a more professional and responsive organization. While the pandemic slowed those efforts, discussions on how to change IT's culture have continued among IT leaders. Rest assured that our goal is not to force changes from above; rather, we want to promote changes naturally. There are countless opportunities for improvement, but for now, we could focus our attention on three specific areas of IT culture: productive work, communication, and service management. 

Productive Work 

We all work hard, smart, and fast to accomplish as much as we can in as short a timeframe as possible. Here's the problem: the same culture that drives us to get stuff done also works against us.

In our work environment, there is an expectation of being constantly available to others for questions or information sharing.  In some cases, others may expect us to instantly change our priorities simply because they contacted us. This culture of interruptions is highly detrimental to our productivity, especially for creative work. I hope that we can all agree on three behavioral changes to help us combat our interruption culture. 

First, for those of us who split time between support and other work, we don't need to be available 24/7, or even eight hours per workday. However, we could set aside three or four hours per workday to do shallow work. During these times we can plan to meet as needed and be available for the interruptions that tend to fill our time.  Please work as a team to set aside an agreed-upon time when teammates and customers can contact you.  

Second, we could dedicate four or five hours per workday to deep work. This is a time when we can turn off notifications, concentrate, and get some real work done. Please set your Teams status and email auto-reply to let people know how and when to best contact you. 

Third, we need to agree that when a person is clocked out, off work, or doing deep work, they shouldn't be expected to respond to run-of-the-mill communications.  Sometimes, emergencies arise and we still need to communicate, but that can be done through texts or phone calls.  Remember, time off is like deep work for ourselves. 


When asked about the biggest problem in IT culture and across UVU, the top answers always include communication. Still, the efforts of leadership to bridge gaps in communication have been ineffective, and here's why: successful communication requires the active participation of both the sender and the receiver. How do we improve our communication among ourselves and with our customers? 

I think there are a few things we can do that will have a real effect. The communication strategies shared here are not mandates, but I encourage you to read them and decide if there's anything you wish to adopt.  

  • Use email and Teams as primary methods for run-of-the-mill communications 
  • Use status/auto-response messages indicating your availability
  • Check and respond to emails at least twice per workday, but don't let email disrupt your productivity 
  • Acknowledge receipt of requests promptly and respond with realistic timelines for resolution 
  • Clear messages out of your inbox once a response has been sent to reduce distraction 
  • Keep your task list separate from your email inbox   
  • Check and respond to Teams messages 4-6 times a day, but don't let Teams disrupt your productivity 
  • Set up notifications on important and official Teams channels, and hide Teams channels that don't interest or affect you 
  • Utilize text messages and phone calls rather than Teams and emails for emergency communications 

The objectives of these suggestions are to: 

  • Simplify all communications. 
  • Reduce the clutter and distraction to improve your focus. 
  • Give timely and helpful responses. 
  • Use the most effective communication tool for the job. 

Service Management 

We currently have a good start on replacing POB as our primary ITSM solution. Although it is taking longer than we had hoped, it is still moving forward. This overall initiative includes the following efforts:  

  • Feasibility verification that Jira Service Desk can both meet our needs and be maintained appropriately with consultant support for a best practice implementation (90%+ complete, expected completion in July or August);  
  • In-house improvement team for the service request process including a third-party analyst engagement to help ensure thoroughness and best practice alignment (20%+ complete, expected completion in August);  
  • RFP development for a long-term ITSM solution utilizing a thorough in-house analysis of existing process maturity (90% complete, currently awaiting outcomes from the other efforts); 
  • Development and adoption of a revamped IT services website to simplify and standardize how IT presents service offerings to customers (95% complete, expected to go live anytime now).  

These ongoing efforts will promote better service management, but our culture is key to our long-term success. Just like our personal happiness is more related to our attitudes than our circumstances, I believe that the way we deliver service is more dependent on our values than it is on our tools and processes. Here are some questions that may help us examine what we value: 

  • Do we know who our customers are and what they need to do? 
  • Do we know what services we provide to support them in accomplishing what they need to do? 
  • Do we know if we are doing a good job? 
  • Do we know how we provide our services? 
  • Do we organize ourselves to optimize the way we provide services? 

Another way to look at all this is to ask ourselves this question: Are we doing IT for the sake of IT, or for the sake of our customers? If our focus is on our customers, we'll do service management right. If not, we're really only serving ourselves. 

Let's Proactively Improve  

We don't have to wait for anyone to tell us what to do when it comes to improving ourselves, our culture, and our processes. We can be personally and collectively responsible to make improvements on our own. 

One of the things I love most about working in IT at UVU is the passion that everyone brings to their work. We strive with all our might to do the right things for the right reasons. We believe in the mission of UVU and the broadly shared goal of helping people to succeed. Let's all be in bold  our efforts toward this great cause. Go Wolverines! 



Collaboration Trumps Cooperation

Collaboration is not the same … as cooperation. Cooperation only requires that the efforts of different people be synchronized in some way. Collaboration, on the other hand, involves people working together in a shared process in which their interaction affects the nature of the work and its outcomes.

Collaboration has to be based on two key principles. First, all participants, “accept every offer that is made.” The aim is not to negate other people’s contributions but to build on them. Second, “always make your work partners look good.” The aim is not to judge what they produce but to help make something of it and raise everybody’s game. The creative impulses of most people can be suffocated by negative criticism, cynical putdowns, or dismissive remarks. The purpose of collaboration is to benefit from the stimulation of each other’s expertise.

From Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson

 Joe Belnap
Senior Director of Special Projects for IT


An employee desk with a computer and cup of coffee.

Open Job Positions

 Is there an opening in your division or department that needs to be filled? Be sure to get it approved according to the Temporary Human Resources Guidelines. Once the position is open, get the word out by submitting it to Caitlin Tobler for next month’s newsletter. 

New Employees

The following individuals have been recently hired by OIT, transferred to a new department, or given a promotion. Be sure to give them a warm welcome:
  • Jared Hanna, Project Lead/Technician II