Office of Information Technology October 2020 Newsletter

Office of Information Technology October 2020 Newsletter


I am continually impressed and humbled by the dedication and focus you give to your daily work. I cannot remember a time where so many people have been so dedicated to serving an institution and genuinely committed to our students and faculty. My mantra is to “Simplify, Sharpen, and Scale,” and I invite you to continue finding ways each day to work more efficiently and improve quality and user experience. Today I would like to share with you some work that we as an OIT Leadership team have done concerning strategy. Some of my favorite quotes about strategy include:

  • “A vision without a strategy remains an illusion.” - Lee Bolman
  • “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” - Michael Porter
  • “You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.” - Jeroen De Flander
  • “Strategy without process is little more than a wish list.” - Robert Filek

In order for us to "Simplify, Sharpen, and Scale" and to fully participate in UVU’s commitment to Digital Transformation, we have spent some time defining our strategy to utilize our dual-mission model to educate every student for success. We have defined strategic objectives, or areas of focus, in four main areas: stakeholders, processes, enablers, and finances. Put another way, our goal is to help achieve student success by including all learners and engaging with our partners across campus. We will do that by delivering delightful experiences to students, faculty, and departments across campus. Referring to our strategy roadmap below, you can see how these strategic objectives map to our ultimate goals.

There are specific processes and projects that we are working on that will allow us to deliver these objectives. We are still working in this area and making sure that they are represented and supported as part of the university PBA cycle. But for now, I wanted to share with you the work we have accomplished so far and let you know that we are very excited to lock arms as one team and chart an exciting course. I can’t wait to see how this develops, and I am honored to work with each of you to make it a reality.

Thanks for all you do!

Troy Martin 
Associate Vice President of IT /  CIO  


A strategy map.


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! 



Two jack-o-lanterns glowing in the dark.

Columbus Day

Monday, October 12 is Columbus Day. On this day, we commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. Be sure to read up on the history of this holiday. 

First Block Classes End

Wednesday, October 14 is the end of first block classes at UVU. First block finals will be held on this day.  

Fall Break 
10/15/2020 - 10/17/2020  

Fall Break for UVU students will extend from Thursday, October 15 through Saturday, October 17. 

Second Block Classes Begin

Monday, October 19 is the first day of second block classes at UVU. 


This year, Halloween falls on Saturday, October 31. Be sure to explore the fascinating history of Halloween and enjoy the festivities. 


Since the start of fall 2020 semester, a number of changes have been implemented on campus to protect everyone from COVID-19. To find the most updated information regarding safety guidelines, be sure to regularly check


A black and white circuit board.  

The Operations department has been busy over the last month helping with the classroom project and working with Media and AIS to monitor all classrooms and check the systems before every class remotely. These efforts are ongoing and will probably continue until classes go online at Thanksgiving.

Monitoring, communicating, and alerting are our key priorities, and we have several projects to help improve these efforts. We are grateful to the areas that have worked with Devin and Riley on making sure their systems are monitored and alerting properly. We are working to make sure that all top priority systems are audited and are monitored appropriately. Next, we will address recent outages by configuring better alerting to shorten downtime. 

At this time, we would like to raise awareness of several monitoring/communication tools related to outages and scheduled downtimes: 

  1. OpsGenie is a tool we use to collect monitoring information from multiple sources and sometimes auto-create incidents. Mainly, we use it to manage escalations and direct alerts to the right people at the right times, depending on priority. Riley is driving this effort and has already pulled a few departments into it. 
  2. is for IT employees. This site provides links to available dashboards, the change calendar, the change request form, and more.  
  3. is the page for internal IT to see current outage incidents, alerts on systems, and scheduled changes.  
  4. is the public-facing status page on outages and service impact issues, and so it uses very generic public messaging. People can subscribe to alerts, check the history of past outages, and more. 

Please reach out to the Operations staff directly or through Microsoft Teams if you would like help with configuring monitoring or OpsGenie alerts for any of your areas or systems. Also, be sure to reach out to us if you have any questions. 


IT Ops


Scattered puzzle pieces.  

There has been a lot of talk over the past several months about how to mature our IT processes to better support UVU's digital transformation. This effort is both strategic and necessary. It is a lofty goal, and for many of us, this concept is nebulous. What does it really mean to mature and improve IT processes? How does it apply to us?  

In this article, I want to share a few things I've learned. I don't consider myself an expert on this topic, so I'm open to hearing alternative perspectives from others.   

Processes in General

In many ways, IT processes are just like every other type of business process. Every process has inputs or triggers—something that says, "Hey, it's time to start the process." Every process also has outputs or results, which are the objectives that we're trying to reach by completing the process. 

However, a process is not as simple as just inputs and outputs. Between inputs and outputs, there can be some detailed steps. These components transform inputs into outputs with the goal of creating value. Here are some of those components:  

  • Objectives: For what purpose are we doing the process? 
  • Customers: Who are we doing this for? 
  • Suppliers/Actors: Who completes the process? Who owns or is involved in the process? 
  • Tools: What machines, documents, software, or other facilities are used? 
  • Frameworks: What criteria, standards, regulations, or approvals are needed? 
  • Risks/Measures: What could go wrong, and what are the consequences? What measures can we take to mitigate the risks? 
  • KPIs: How do we show how well we are doing?  

Nested Processes

Sometimes, talking about processes can be confusing because trying to define the boundaries of a process can be subjective. What I may think of as a process, you may see as a sub-process. The challenge lies in determining at what point you've found the ultimate "parent" process. 

Within IT, a person or department may have a standard process for something, but if their activities overlap with other areas where the maturity level is lower, the process could fall apart. If this happens, it may indicate that a parent process needs maturing as well as a given sub-process. 

All-in-all, from the vantage point of any particular person or department, it can be confusing to see where the overall process begins and ends. We must understand our processes so that we can optimize them to accomplish our objectives as efficiently as possible.  

Process Maturity

No matter what kind of process (IT, business, manufacturing, or otherwise) we're assessing, every process fits within one of the maturity levels described below (which I shamelessly stole from this article: Experts in different fields sometimes use other terms at each level and provide slightly different descriptions, but they all basically follow this same pattern.  

Level 0 – Person-Dependent Practices

This is for cases where the activity being performed is not documented. In other words, it is not recorded either in outline or in detail. The activity is entirely person-dependent and the sequence, timing, and result may vary during the repetition. This requires a lot of supervision. There is no guarantee of either achieving the desired result or adhering to timelines. The activity is entirely ad hoc, with little communication between functions. The effectiveness of the activity is entirely dependent on individuals. Knowledge transfer may or may not happen if there is any change in the owner of the activity.

Level 1 – Documented Process

At this maturity level, there is a document that has been reviewed and approved by the supervisor or the approving authority as the standard process. But it may be doubtful that the activity being performed is as per the document. This may occur because of a process drift or some drastic change since the document was drafted.

Level 2 – Partial Deployment

Here, the activity that is documented is being deployed, but there is inconsistency in the deployment. The process may not be deployed in totality. That is, it may not be deployed at all the intended locations, or though all functions, or by all the intended owners, or all the activities defined in the process are not being performed. This would mean that the document has not been designed to cater to such variations. There is inconsistency in the results of different process owners.

Level 3 – Full Deployment

At this level, there is no inconsistency between the documented process and the deployed process. The process documented and deployed caters to all the intended locations, owners, and all the activities that need to be performed. The process also shows the seamless linkage between functions and other processes wherever there needs to be any interaction. This means that the process shows greater consistency of actions and better communication between functions.

Level 4 – Measured and Automated

The process has set itself goals such as adherence to timelines, customer satisfaction, cost, etc. The process also is being measured against its goals. The process is system-driven by enablers such as using enterprise resource planning or customer resource management or any other custom-made software.

Level 5 – Continuously Improving

The goals set for the process are being analyzed for achievements and improved regularly. The timelines, cost targets, satisfaction levels are being achieved regularly and the targets also are being tightened by using continuous quality improvement techniques such as Six Sigma, Kaizen, etc. The enabling system also is being improved and being made error-free by strategies such as poka-yoke (mistake-proofing).

Our IT Processes

So, this is where all of the information above comes home to roost for us in IT at UVU. Historically, processes in some of our areas have been mostly in the lowest levels of maturity. Before anyone gets upset with that broad characterization, I recognize that there are also some notable exceptions where the maturity level is higher. In general, these processes are what I would call "nested" because they are actually sub-processes.

As we begin maturing processes, we need to list those that are most important to us, those that need the most improvement at UVU, and those that will have the greatest effect on the value we provide to our customers. There are various lists of processes we could use as a basis to work from. Here are two we can use for reference: 

  • The Info-Tech Research Group provides a list of 45 core IT processes in their IT Management & Governance Framework. These processes are meant to be comprehensive and connected, and they are based on their research and the COBIT framework. They divide these into categories like Strategy & Governance, Financial Management, People & Resources, Service Planning & Architecture, Infrastructure & Operations, Security & Risk, Apps, Data & BI, and PPM & Projects.
  • ITIL 4 includes 34 management practices (essentially, processes) as "sets of organizational resources designed for performing work or accomplishing an objective." For each practice, ITIL 4 provides various types of guidance, such as key terms and concepts, success factors, key activities, information objects, etc. These are grouped into three categories: General Management Practices, Service Management Practices, and Technical Management Practices.

As we develop strategic plans and determine the areas of greatest need for improvement, we'll focus on maturing the most important processes first. We've worked on a few improvements related to Service Requests and Service Desk Escalation, and have already seen some benefits. Continuous improvement is our path forward! As we embrace these process improvement efforts, we'll be able to raise our overall process maturity level. Even more importantly, we'll provide better services to the students, faculty, and staff at UVU. 


Character vs. Reputation

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation!
Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are!

Eddie Sorensen 
Senior Director of Infrastructure Services


What People Value

“To see what people really value, … watch how they tip.  Repeated studies show that people do not tip any more for efficient and prompt service than they do for flawed and slow service. Instead, people tip more when the waitperson makes them feel good. People value – and pay more for – the way you make them feel.”

From You, Inc. by Harry and Christine Clifford Beckwith

As Mark Twain said: “Always do right.  This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” 

Joe Belnap 
Senior Director of Special Projects for IT


Gears turning together.

Open Job Positions

The following positions in IT are available. If you know someone who might be an appropriate candidate, be sure to recommend them:

Be sure to watch for more opportunities in IT. 

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

Christina Baum has accepted our offer to join the UVU team as the Associate Vice President for Academic and Student Digital Services. Be sure to give her a warm welcome!