A lot of my job involves looking at websites and making suggestions on how better to structure them.
There is a bigger restructure project happening at the moment, though, which has an impact on the Web team. The University is in the process of merging two units: Business Improvements and IT Services. I thought it would be courteous to share something of it with you, without going into too many details.
A little history
When I took up my current post as Assistant Information Architect/Web Manager in May 2006 I didn’t join the Web team so much as help create it.
There were then only two of us, me and Steve, the University Web Manager, until we were joined by Chris, a Web Software Developer, in 2008; Duncan, Web Editor, in 2009; and Rich, Website Migration Project Officer, in 2010. There are now five of us, spread across three different rooms, on two floors.
Within the University structure the Web team sits within the Business Improvements (BI) unit who have responsibility for amongst other things: project management, software development, data and database management, ID cards, and the University Website.
We also work, at times very closely, with IT Services, a separate unit from BI, who have responsibility for many of the other IT-related functions within the University, including networks, servers, software, IT helpdesk, etc. On the whole I think we have a very good relationship with the guys in IT Services, but at times it can be a little frustrating when our priorities don’t match theirs and they can’t focus on something we need because they are, quite justifiably, dealing with something else.
However, draft plans have just been released that is set to change this arrangement this coming summer when IT Services and BI will merge to become <insert name here> (we don’t know, we’ve not been told that yet).
The bringing together of BI and IT Services is being driven by amongst other things the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework which is a set of key principles and best/good practices for IT management, development and operations. All staff within IT and BI including the Web team passed a qualification in ITIL last summer, the ITIL V3 Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management. We got badges and everything.
The new draft restructure diagram that we’ve seen is, as you would expect, based on ITIL V3 which looks at the whole lifecycle of IT services: strategy, design, transition, operation and continual service improvement.
Currently, with two units (IT Services and Business Improvements) there are places where both are doing the same—or similar—things, and places where neither address much needed functions within the University, or where responsibilities are unclear. A restructure should help redress the balance, and using a framework such as ITIL will help as these are standards that have already been worked out and tested.
As with any corporate restructure there is the possibility of redundancies, at least of roles if not of jobs. In other words, there is a possibility that we won’t be doing the same jobs this time next year.
We don’t yet know what the departmental structure will look like or where the Web team fits into it—if there is still to be one as it is in its current form.
In many ways it’s an unsettling time for everyone as we wait to find out about our roles, our jobs, and with whom we’ll be working alongside and under. But it is also potentially an exciting time as we restructure things to better serve the University. The University’s motto is, after all, ΑΙΕΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΕΥΕΙΝ: Greek for ‘ever to be the best’.
Whatever happens, in the meantime we’ve got websites to build…