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First-ever virtual ITS town hall answers your questions

Published on: June 4, 2020

On May 26, ITS held its first-ever virtual town hall meeting with approximately 235 attendees. It included an IT@UofT Strategic Plan update and highlights on current projects.

University of Toronto’s (U of T) Information Technology Services (ITS) department held its first-ever virtual town hall meeting on May 26, with approximately 235 attendees. The meeting was a replacement of an IT@UofT Strategic Plan session scheduled for the TechKnowFile (TKF) conference, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The virtual meeting was moderated by Laurie Harrison, director of Online Learning Strategies (OLS), with a presentation by Chief Information Officer (CIO) Bo Wandschneider, via MS Live Events from Simcoe Hall at St. George campus.

IT@UofT Strategic Plan
An IT@UofT Strategic Plan update from the CIO included an overview of the new ServiceNow Project & Portfolio Management (PPM) channel, which categorizes and tracks projects’ milestones. A screenshot of the platform showed ITS is currently working on 205 projects with a 43 per cent completion rate. “All of these are linked back to an objective and an initiative…The IT@UofT community really wants to see what we are doing and we want to be able to show them. We want to highlight for them that we are making progress and give them a sense of the complexity of all the things that we do in ITS.”

Wandschneider pointed out that: “the challenge in the community is that everyone wants to see what we are doing; a lot of times people don’t know what’s happening under the hood and this is a perfect way to do this.”

ITS project highlights
The good news for ITS is that many projects are continuing, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, request for proposals (RFPs) are continuing on a business as usual basis for renewal of WiFi services and also Academic Collaborative Technologies (ACT) video/web conferencing, said Wandschneider. Support for interactive experiences is more critical than ever when students are studying remotely and ITS is also preparing to meet the growing appetite for wireless access upon return to campus.

The new multi-factor authentication (MFA) service UTORMFA, beginning summer 2020, was also addressed as one of the most “important pieces.” Wandschneider reminded staff that during this remote working period, security at home should be top of mind. “As an IT shop, we need to model the way for the rest of the institution. If you don’t know something, reach out and ask. Always err on the side of caution.”

Remote working
The digital transformation of remote working for most of the ITS department has become a huge opportunity for the department, yet it has had its obstacles and disadvantages, said Wandschneider. Despite the challenges, he acknowledged: “you’ve been responsive to the whole community at U of T and they see that and appreciate that.”

Currently, planning is underway around reconfiguring work spaces and schedules, determining essential staff needs, considering how people will be travelling to and from work and more.