IT Governance Frequently Asked Questions
- Why does Western need IT governance?
As quoted in WIU’s IT Governance Framework (September 2013), Governance “is the single most important factor in generating...value from IT,” and it is a critical success factor for the University. It engages the entire University community as a full-fledged partner in IT decision making. Through the governance process, major IT decisions are made in light of all technology needs throughout the University. Properly implemented, it cuts across all colleges and business units (eliminating technology silos) and has the authority to make decisions for IT projects that are above a certain spending threshold or meet other established and published criteria. Given the current fiscally challenging times, competing IT priorities across the University must be vetted and prioritized by involving the campus community in the process of IT decision making.
It also separates the decision making process from the implementation process. It can be defined as “Specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT” throughout the organization (Weill and Ross, p. vii). In addition, IT governance improves transparency and communication. It can provide efficiencies in software licensing and the acquisition of hardware through streamlining and standardization. The need for risk assessment and compliance are also driving factors for IT governance.
- How is IT governance different than IT decision-making in past years?
In the past, IT enhancements and new initiatives proposed by campus members could be vetoed by technology units, a dean, director or even the division’s vice president. If a VP vetoed the proposal, the other VPs and the President may not have had an opportunity to weigh in on the matter. Now that the President’s Leadership Team has assumed the role of the IT Governance Council, all proposals forwarded to the Council from the Alliances will be considered by all members of the senior leadership team.
Also, large IT projects have necessitated funding by a VP or the President. Under IT governance, the President’s Leadership Team (as a group) identifies funds for those proposals they want to move forward.
Another difference is that IT Governance will provide faculty, staff and students the opportunity to fully participate in the IT decision-making process. In the past, many of these decisions were made by central IT. Now, members of the University will be encouraged to propose suggestions for IT enhancements, participate in the IT governance working groups and attend any of the meetings of the Alliances or the Council. The entire IT governance process will be open and transparent.
Prior to the IT Governance framework, decisions about IT initiatives that had substantial cost or substantial impact on Western were made within departments, colleges or divisions. Little or no decision-making or collaboration crossed organizational divides.
- How are people appointed to the Alliances (i.e., the working groups)?
University governance groups appoint members to alliances. Faculty representatives on alliances are appointed by Faculty Senate. Student representatives are appointed by the Macomb and QC campus SGAs. All other representatives are appointed by the heads of the areas that they represent.
- Where is WIU’s IT Governance website located?
WIU’s IT Governance website is located at wiu.edu/itgov (which is a shortcut to the actual site). Besides providing information on each of the groups within the IT framework, it also contains links to an online request and workflow/tracking system used by the IT Governance groups and the University community.
- Whom should I contact if I have questions about the IT Governance process?
The IT Governance website provides this FAQ section in addition to information about the governance framework. You can also send inquiries to AskITGov@wiu.edu. In addition, individuals serving on the Alliances and Council are published on the IT Governance website.
- What has to go through the IT Governance process?
Any IT-related purchase or initiative that meets one or more of the following criteria must be submitted to IT Governance.
- It impacts the University significantly from a directional, policy, services, systems, security, financial process, operational, or strategic perspective.
- It requires significant funding. IT expenditures exceeding $15,000 must be submitted to IT Governance.
- It integrates with one or more existing systems (for example, a new system requires interfaces with an existing financial module).
- Do I have to identify funding in order to submit a pre-proposal?
No! We encourage submission of ideas (called pre-proposals) for technology enhancements on campus with or without regard to funding. The IT Council and the IT Governance Owner will identify funding for proposals (pre-proposals that have been developed into a formal proposal by an Alliance) that they accept that impact the entire campus. Of course, identifying potential funding sources could facilitate the acceptance and future implementation of any proposal.
- If my department has its own funds for an idea/pre-proposal, does it need to be submitted to IT Governance?
Any IT-related project or initiative that meets one or more of the criteria stated in the IT Governance Framework must go through IT Governance. Funding does not automatically guarantee approval. The ability to incorporate a project effectively into Western’s current infrastructure, environment, and strategic goals must be considered before proceeding with significant IT projects.
- Do grant funded IT-related projects need to be submitted to IT Governance?
Any IT project that meets one or more of the criteria stated in the IT Governance Framework must go through IT Governance. Having obtained grant funds does not automatically guarantee approval. The ability to incorporate a project effectively into Western’s current infrastructure, environment, and strategic goals must be considered before proceeding with significant IT projects.
- How are technology purchases monitored for compliance with IT Governance procedures?
Purchasing and Business Services reviews requested and completed purchases for compliance with IT Governance procedures. In addition, VP approval is currently required for purchases that are $500 or more, which is well below the spending threshold that would require IT Governance involvement (see the criteria). In addition, the VPs are members of the IT Governance Council. Procurements that do not conform to IT Governance procedures will be referred to the IT Governance Owner.
- Who can submit IT-related ideas or pre-proposals?
All current WIU student, faculty, and staff members are encouraged submit ideas anytime using the online submission form (called the Governance Proposal System or GPS). Ideas that are submitted via GPS are called pre-proposals and are routed the Executive Committee.
- Before submitting a pre-proposal, can I view other pre-proposals and proposals that have already been submitted to avoid submitting a duplicate request?
Information about each of the submitted pre-proposals and proposals and their current statuses can be found by visiting wiu.edu/itgov. Click either the “View Current Proposals” or “Find a Specific Proposal” link. These links take you into the workflow/tracking system called the Governance Proposal System (GPS).
- How do I submit a request?
Students, faculty and staff can submit a request (called a pre-proposal) online using the Governance Proposal System (GPS) at itgovernance.wiu.edu (click on the “Submit a Pre-Proposal” link). Submitting a request requires the use of ECom credentials. Only online submissions are accepted. A tutorial and instructions on submitting a request are available in the IT Governance website.
- What does the pre-proposal form look like?
A PDF version of the online pre-proposal submission form iis available on the IT Governance website. All submissions must be made online through the Governance Proposal System (GPS), but the PDF version of the form can be used to facilitate drafting of pre-proposals. Pre-proposals must be completed online using GPS by visiting wiu.edu/itgov and clicking the “Submit a Pre-Proposal” link. You will be required to login with your ECom credentials; but as long as you do not click either of the submit buttons at the bottom of the form, the new pre-proposal will not be created.
- Can I begin filling out the online request form and finish it at a later time?
There is no draft status when filling out a form (such as you would expect to find in an email system where you can save a draft). Once you submit the request form online, the Governance Proposal System (GPS) automatically routes it to the Executive Committee. Please read through the example PDF of the form or the actual online form to make sure that you have answers to all of the required fields (indicated with red stars) before you begin filling out the online form.
- Can I submit pre-proposals during the summer?
Yes. Pre-proposals (or ideas) may be submitted at any time throughout the year using the Governance Proposal System (GPS). The Alliances and IT Governance Council will take up new business at their next meeting.
Students, faculty and staff can submit a request (called a pre-proposal) online using the GPS at itgovernance.wiu.edu (click on the “Submit a Pre-Proposal” link). Submitting a request requires the use of ECom credentials. Only online submissions are accepted. A tutorial and instructions on submitting a request are available in the IT Governance website.
- How can I print a proposal?
A proposal can easily be printed when its details are displayed in the web browser. Click on the File button located in the upper left-hand corner of the browser window and select the Print option. All details, including the proposal’s history, will be printed. Please note that in some cases, printing a proposal may result in several pages of output.
At specific steps during the work flow process, the Governance Proposal System (GPS) sends an email message to the person who is submitting the proposal or taking action on the proposal. This message contains the details and history of the proposal, which can also be printed.
- Why am I unable to view IT Governance proposals online?
The online Governance Proposal System (GPS) is only available to users while they are on one of the WIU campuses or connected remotely through WIU’s VPN. If you continue to experience problems, contact University Technology’s Support Center.
- Who should I contact if I have problems using the online workflow/tracking system (GPS)?
If you experience problems with the online Governance Proposal System (GPS), please contact University Technology’s Support Center.
- Am I expected to do anything after I submit a request?
Individuals who submit requests (called pre-proposals) may be asked to assist the Alliance in developing a complete proposal. Each time the status of a pre-proposal or proposal changes in the Governance Proposal System (GPS), the person who submitted the initial request will receive email notification.
- What recourse do I have if my preproposal is not accepted?
Alliance rejections can be appealed to the IT Governance Owner.
- Can I express concerns regarding a particular preproposal or proposal?
Alliance and IT Governance Council meetings are open to the University community. Feedback about specific proposals may be presented at these meetings or by contacting a member of alliance or IT Governance Council that is considering the proposal in a timely manner. The names of the members of each Alliance and the Council, along with links their email addresses, can be found on the IT Governance website.
- What is meant by transparency?
Transparency in IT Governance refers to those facets of the framework that encourage openness and communication. Elements of transparency in the IT Governance framework include:
- The details and history of any proposal is available online to the entire Western community.
- Anyone may add himself or herself as a watcher to a proposal in order to keep informed via email of changes in the status of the proposal.
- Alliance and IT Governance Council meetings are open to the entire Western community. Links for meeting dates and times are available in the panel on the right-hand side of each Alliance’s and the Council’s web pages within the IT Governance Website.
- Minutes and agendas of all meetings are published and accessible to the entire Western community. Links for this information are available in the panel on the right-hand side of each Alliance’s and the Council’s web pages within the IT Governance Website.
- Can I attend one of the IT Governance meetings?
Yes. Transparency is critical to the success of IT Governance; therefore, all Alliance and IT Governance Council meetings are open to the University community. Meeting schedules, agendas, and minutes can be found on the IT Governance Website.
- What is a watcher?
A watcher is any member of the University community that receives via email all changes that are made to a request/proposal that is currently in the Governance Proposal System (GPS). Any member of the University community can add themselves as a watcher of one or more proposals... and they can remove themselves as watchers at anytime. The Alliances can also add watchers. We advise that you be conservative in the number of proposals that you add yourself to as a watcher because anytime that a proposal is updated or its status changes, the watchers of that proposal will receive an email update.
- Who determines the priorities of proposals?
The IT Governance Council recommends a prioritized list of the proposals it accepts to the IT Governance Owner. Ultimately, it is the IT Governance Owner’s decision whether a proposal gets implemented (the entire IT governance framework was established to aid the IT Governance Owner in determining the technology needs of the University). The IT Governance Council and IT Governance Owner will look at factors such as core versus context, alignment with the University’s strategic plan and the IT Strategic Plan, as well as legal and regulatory requirements.
- Does IT Governance hinder time-sensitive or critical projects?
The amount of time required for a proposal to complete the IT Governance process depends largely on the complexity and cost of the project. Critical IT projects should be planned well in advance and take into account the Alliance and IT Governance Council meeting schedules. Under extenuating circumstances, the IT Governance Owner does have the authority to make exceptions to the IT Governance process.
- End-of-year funds are frequently used for technology projects. Will IT Governance hinder our ability to fund technology projects at the end of the year?
The IT Governance process does not prevent a project from being funded from end-of-year funds, but these projects will need to go through the IT Governance process. Because funding availability is unknown in such scenarios, IT Governance does encourage advanced planning for “shovel ready” projects. The IT Governance Owner and Council also have the latitude to use year-end-funding designated for IT projects to initiate and complete proposals that were previously accepted and waiting for funding to be identified.
- When are final decisions about proposals made?
Requests that are forward to an Alliance from the Executive Council may be accepted or rejected by the Alliance’s members based on designated considerations. If the Alliance accepts the request, the members will develop a formal proposal for the Council’s consideration during one of their regular meetings. If the Council decides to recommend the proposal to the IT Governance Owner, the proposal will be included in a rank-ordered list that is presented to this person. Typically, the Council meets only two or three times per semester. The IT Governance Owner has the final decision regarding whether or not the proposal should be implemented. All proposals that are accepted by him/her are then given to the CIO for implementation.
- What is a VPN?
In non-technical terms, a VPN enables you connect your computer at home to the University’s network as through it was actually on the campus. It establishes a secure, encrypted communication channel (called a tunnel) and provides your off-campus computer access to all the network resources that your office or residential room computer enjoys. This includes, but is not limited to, the Samba share, group shares, and departmental servers.
To use the VPN, you must install the VPN client. For more information, go to www.wiu.edu/vpn.
Once the client is installed, you can access the VPN at https://vpn.wiu.edu.