Education Technology

Service Boot Camp: From Service Ownership to Product Management

My intent in coming to this session is to get a better handle on the IT Service Management wave that’s (seemingly) washing over higher education IT. It’s definitely a hot topic in 2018, and I know these presenters know what they’re talking about and are good at what they do. In my mind, I’ve distilled ITSM down to “categorize and define the things you do for the people you serve.” From this comes a common language by which you can talk about, plan for and quantify that work. Well, at least that’s what it looks like to me from the outside…


  • Todd Jensen, IT Service Management, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • Luke Tracy, Enterprise Architect, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • Chas Grundy, Manager, Product Services, University of Notre Dame


Morning Section

Question to the group: How many services does your organization offer? Service document calls out 8 service categories, 52 services and a bunch of service offerings.

Service Catalog: Service Categories > Services > Service Offerings

Analogy: you can think about a service offering as a box sitting on a services shelf

Service Owner (SO) is accountable for the delivery of an IT service and the service offerings within.

  • Ensures that the service receives strategic attention and appropriate resources
  • Is responsible for the service as a whole through its entire lifecycle and is accountable to the person in charge of overall IT service delivery
  • SO skills include communicator, strategic thinker, leadership, service level understanding, resource allocation, listening, storytelling, business analysis, financial planning & budgeting, metrics, public speaking, relationship management, service assessment, etc.

Service Offering Manager (SOM) Defined: is responsible for the delivery of an IT service offering.

  • Purpose of this role is to ensure comprehensive, efficient, and transparent management of and communication about the IT service offering.
  • Accountable to the SO for the design, implementation, and ongoing maintenance and support of the offering.
  • SOM Skills: everything associated with running a service offering, more tactical than the SO.

Where to SOs and SOMs sit in the org chart? This is not in the ECAR org chart, and it really depends on your organization.

Service Offering Manager (SOM) = Product Manager (for the purposes of this presentation).

A service owner generally thinks at a higher level than a product manager. They manage the product mix (ecosystem) for the university and customers. They plan the service strategy, roadmap, and business plan. They also consider which product is right for which customer/use case, and determine whether the products are appropriately managed – including metrics.

Service Reviews 101

A service review is an annual look at what we have, where it’s going, why we think so, what we should do. At Michigan, they call this a “MESA,” or Michigan Enterprise Strategic Assessment. A hard copy of a document was provided to help in conducting this assessment.

Structure: SOs build the service review and present to standards and architecture each year. S&A will set a schedule for service reviews so you have time to prepare. It should take a few hours to complete, depending on the SO’s knowledge of the service…should take 15-20 minutes to present.

  • Identify/define the service owner name
  • Make a list of the service offering ecosystem, which includes details about support model, user adoption, incidents, annual spend, FTE to deliver offering
  • Service roadmap lays out the life cycle from Evaluate > Ramp up > Fully Available > Ramp Down > Retire
  • Statuses: Evaluating, Recommended, Not Recommended, Retired
  • Product Mix: MESA. Places each product into one of the categories based on where it is in the service or product lifecycle.

Market Analysis

  • Industry: what is happening in general industry, what are the trends and expectations for where it’s heading. Who are the leaders and innovators? Where do our offerings fit?
  • Higher ed: what offerings do our peers use? Use the AAU Private Universities standard benchmark group if possible. What are the trends in higher ed?
  • What other projects do we have going on; what dependencies do we have?
  • Benchmarking: look at what our peers are doing and reach out to them when possible.

Service Checklist

  • Information security review
    • Privileged accounts
    • Cloud security assessment (HECVAT)
    • Data handling
  • Service catalog is up to date
    • ID appropriate backups
    • Business applications
    • Dependencies

Customer Value Model

Treacy and Wiersema model for strategic differentiation.

Customer Intimacy / Product Leadership / Operational Excellence

Organizations that focus on ONE of the above traits performed best.

  • Customer Intimacy: Total solution, tailored to the customer’s needs. “They are the experts in my business,” “I got exactly what I needed,” “They do everything with me in mind.”
  • Product Leadership: Continually redefine state-of-the-art. “Premium priced, but worth it,” “Can you believe their new product?” “I would never settle for anything less.”
  • Operational Excellence: Reliable, best price, hassle-free service. “Great price and quality,” “Their products last and last,” “So convenient, in and out in a flash,” “Consistency is their middle name.”

Four rules of the Customer Value Model

  1. Provide best offering in the marketplace by excelling in a specific dimension of value
  2. Maintain threshold standards on other dimensions of value
  3. Dominate your market by improving value year after year
  4. Build a well-tuned operating model dedicated to delivering unmatched value

Elements of the Operational Machine

Each of the following include the three traits of the Customer Value Model described above.

  • Customer Expectations
  • Operating Structure
  • Core Processes
  • Culture
  • Mantra
  • Formula

Service Strategy

Strongly encourage using a template, consistency makes it easier for readers to digest.

  • What is it?
  • What are the needs?
  • What is the strategy?
  • What are the initiatives?
  • What does success look like?

Product Decision Framework

  1. Clearly define the service: audience, use cases, etc.
  2. ID the products you want to promote, excluding any we don’t want to encourage
  3. Pick one “preferred” or default product that people should use unless they meet one of the other cases/requirements
  4. ID differentiating use cases that result in a different product choice
  5. Build a feature chart/matrix of all recommended solutions
  6. Design the decision tree always resulting in a single product recommendation (if needed)
  7. Produce a one-page guide for training and distribution (if needed)

Afternoon Section

This section is more about the service offerings management component; what does it mean to deliver services? We’re talking about the component of the Service Strategy that is…

Operation: Strategy > Concept > Deployment > Manage > Retire

Reviewed the Product Management Value Proposition Lifecycle

“The product manager is the CEO of the product.”

Product Management is the intersection of Users, Tech and Business

Most of the product lifecycle is taken up by the manage phase, because a product may be in use for many years.

The group then went through a product scorecard, which had a hard copy handout.

  • For each category, rate how well it meets the need
  • Fill in notes to explain the ratings
  • Create a plan for scores you want to change


  • Use your own product!
  • How do users feel about my product?
  • How do people learn how to use it?
  • What features do they want?
  • Is this still the right product?
  • Use listening posts: blogs, news sources, and more.
  • Build the vendor relationship: provide feedback or feature requests, stay in contact, join customer advisory boards, etc.
  • Change management matters!
  • Use metrics
  • Use chocolate bars

Tactics for Retiring a Service Offering

When the product can no longer meet the needs of the user, the technology, and the business, it is time to retire the project.

Language matters!

  • Retirement vs. End of Life
  • Sense of opportunity vs. Sense of loss
  • Etc.

We reviewed a worksheet hand out on retiring a service offering. Consider Customer use:

  • Use case or core functionality
  • Hard requirement or nice-to-have?
  • Alternative solutions or approaches

Change Management

  1. All at Once: hard cutover. Best when compatibility is an issue or support is untenable.
  2. Golden Path: promote better alternative, organic transition; seek critical mass. Best when end users strongly prefer the new solution.
  3. Adoption Curve: soft launch – opt-in first, then replace for all users. Best when you need to learn or adjust over time.
  4. Phased: Live in both worlds, roll out by group or location. Best when solutions can coexist and support is biggest concern.
  5. Ferry Boat: Pass costs along to remaining users; costs increase as users abandon ship. Best when a few users are clinging to the old solution.

Listen for, Pivot around, Help solve…THE PROBLEM.

…and then we played the Product Management Game, and I got to play the role of a CIO!

The Product Management Game







Me as a CIO

Me as a CIO

Debrief: was this a realistic experience, did you get any experiences that you could relate to? Yes!

Wrap Up, Key Takeaways

  • Define terms
  • ID service owners
  • Create tools for service ownership
  • Provide training for service owners
  • Establish processes to sustain the change
  • Measure, evaluate, and improve


Education Technology

It’s quiet…too quiet

After dropping off my sons at school this morning, I braved LA traffic – only a 1.5 hour delay! – to make it to LAX just as my flight was boarding. One uneventful flight later, I’d listened to several chapters in my latest audio book (Dan Lyons’ “Lab Rats”) and safely touched down in Denver for another EDUCAUSE national conference, aka #EDU18. As I made my way down to ground transportation, a nice couple with a happy Labrador retriever said “hello!” and offered me a free train ticket to Union Station. NICE! Talk about a great first impression…I think I’m going to like Denver 🙂

Even though I don’t always see my colleagues in the lobby or around town before the event, I can sense them nearby. Maybe it’s social media buzz, maybe it’s because I drank too much coffee. Anyway, I arrive a day earlier than most attendees because I sign up for pre-conference sessions. If you’ve never done a pre-conference session, I can tell you that they’re totally worth it. The ones I’ve been to have ALWAYS been worth the additional price. If you didn’t do one this year, consider making the investment next year.

This year, in addition to chairing the Student Affairs IT Community Group and catching up with old friends, I’m interested in attending sessions on IT Service Management, innovation, and visiting several of the poster sessions. Why IT Service Management? Because it seems to be the hot topic in 2018, and I’d like to go beyond the hype to see what the practice has to offer in the real world. With respect to innovation, I’m hoping to get a sense of the practical on-the-ground work people are doing across higher ed, i.e. how folk are turning pilot projects into sustainable long-term efforts. I also expect to hear some empty-headed cheerleading (“IT’S THE FUTURE!”), but I suppose that’s probably unavoidable. Poster sessions are now a mandatory part of my personal conference agenda. They’re a hidden gem of the conference experience. They’re great because you get to talk to enthusiastic people who are actually doing interesting work. To me that’s an awesome place to be, because you’re in a position to ask presenters difficult questions without feeling like you’re putting them on the spot in a large lecture hall. Signal-to-noise ratio is high, and you tend to get very honest responses here.

Well, it’s getting late so I’m off to get a good night’s rest. I’m excited to be here and looking forward to seeing y’all this week. Have an awesome #EDU18!

Education Technology

The 2017 EDUCAUSE Mega Post

The latest in my ongoing series of conference “Mega Posts,” this one contains links to all my posts for the sessions I attended at the 2017 EDUCAUSE conference in Philadelphia. The reason I take such extensive notes and then publish them online is because I’m here on the state’s dime; this ain’t no vacation! Additionally, others may benefit in some small way from my conference experience. It represents a very small slice of what was actually available at EDU17; hopefully you’ll find it useful.

One of my priorities this time around was to learn as much as I could about student privacy and the use of student data. There’s a ton of talk about big data and predictive analytics, and some of the hype is actually justified (you have no idea how much it hurts me to admit that…I can’t stand vendor hype). That said, I find the comparative lack of conversation about ethics and legal considerations concerning. Talk about “student success” is like talk about “the American Dream.” Every campus is for it, but few campus leaders can clearly articulate it in an easily understandable way.

It’s a happy coincidence that a couple weeks ago my boss (VP of Student Affairs) asked me to do some research on online FERPA training. Enter my first pre-conference session, “Student Privacy Boot Camp.” This was, all on it’s own, worth the price of the entire conference to me. I had the privilege of getting educated by the Director of Student Privacy Policy from the US Department of Education. How cool is that?

Anyway, please enjoy these posts and share responsibly with your colleagues. See y’all next year!

Tuesday, October 31

These were pre-conference sessions, and they were both excellent. Next time you come to EDUCAUSE, I highly recommend attending a pre-conference session that piques your interest. I don’t know what the vetting/selection process looks like, but I’ve found that speakers are uniformly very good.

Wednesday, November 1

Thursday, November 2

Friday, November 3

Education Technology

Bridging the Divide Between IT and Student Success


  • Michael Berman, Vice President for Technology & Innovation, California State University, Channel Islands
  • John Suess, Vice President of IT & CIO, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Maria Thompson, President, Coppin State University
  • Timothy Renick, VP for Enrollment Management & Student Success, Vice Provost Georgia State University

NOTE: any errors, omissions or inadvertent misrepresentations are completely my fault. This conversation moved quickly and there was a lot of audience participation my fingers weren’t quite quick enough to catch – I beg your indulgence, dear reader. – Paul

Michael introduced the panel and panelists briefly talked about what they do at a very high level.

What does student success mean to you or your institution?

MT: it’s the reason we exist. Coppin State was right across the street from the unrest in 2015. We emphasize getting students enrolled and off to a strong start.

TR: practically, it’s about closing gaps among underserved populations (which are growing).  I believe we have a moral and social obligation to deploy fixes that actually work.

JS: we’re setting goals for retention and graduation that help us focus on what we need to do to “move the needle.” Stepping back, we have to consider what’s useful to the student long-term. Are we providing experiences that will be useful later in life?

MB: 5 years ago student success was defined idiosyncratically depending on the campus. In the past, we’ve prided ourselves in the CSU as being good at access, but often we left it up to the student to succeed. Some of our metrics have been: how many graduate in 4 years, how many graduate in 6 years? CSU’s GI2025 sets goals for each campus.

JS: what is transfer student success? We don’t institutionally have benchmarks that measure this.

MT: How many of us look at what student success means for the students?

TR: there are measures (like moving up from one economic quartile to another) that are important for our students that are very useful. However, that particular statistic may not resonate for everyone equally.

JS: we’re beginning to incorporate co-curricular data, but we’re not as good at quantifying what that actually means.

MT: co-curricular does show impact, but our average age is 27 (and a large number who are 65), so we could define this based on the multi-generational populations.

If student success is a team activity, what is your role in supporting the team’s success?

TR: I started in enrollment management; we had a student success committee that would meet to discuss this topic..not just once a month, but every week. Challenges for one area were a challenge for all areas to consider. Something that used to be the purview of say the vice provost, was now something that

MT: we put together a student success council with representatives from every division on campus, including faculty, students and staff that were empowered to take action based on data. If that means cancelling a program that doesn’t work, then that’s something we would do. TR: how do you message to your faculty “we’re going to do more than just talk about things?” MT: I look at the data EVERY SINGLE DAY. I memorize those numbers and I refer to them constantly.

JS: UMBC is in a different place. We’re a more traditional organization with shared governance and thus more dispersed. We just set up a persistence committee that meets every two weeks; we use the Civitas platform for data and feedback. One of the benefits of being in IT is that you get a “sense” for what’s going on across the campus, which puts you in a position where you can provide guidance and advice on how to streamline things.

MB: IT often has all the responsibility, but none of the authority. We kind of a universal support for pretty much the entire campus.

JS: we want to build the tools that allow students to take control of their own pathway through their experience.

MT: I think it’s important for the CIO to report to the president! (applause). I see IT as the circulatory system of the campus.

How does your state leverage your student success initiative?

TR: Georgia State has been leveraging predictive analytics for some time. We knew we needed more academic advisors, and we got funding for it, with the understanding that the best practices we learned would spread across the state.

MB: we’re rethinking the way we use our SIS in pretty fundamental ways (they’re bloated and slow). We’re trying to change to be more flexible and agile, but we’re still in the planning stages.

JS: one thing University of Maryland has done effectively is course redesign, which is a role that systems can effectively play.

TR: we’ve taken advantage of chatbots, but it’s not about the technology but the knowledge gained; for example, 80% of the questions asked of which are about financial aid.

JS: there are different models between Student Affairs and IT:  strong partnerships with IT, developing core competencies. Some of these conversations are difficult.

MT: there is technology fatigue for a lot of users, so I have to be mindful of the people who are keeping their eye on the big picture. We need to time these things so that they are not disruptive.

MB: we don’t need point solutions, we need API-based tools that will allow for more effective integrations and aggregation of data.

What’s one big mistake that campuses make when trying to use technology to promote student success?

JS: you need to “balance the ingredients in the cake.” Buying tech products needs to be balanced against adding staff to support it.

MB: you can’t alway rely on the tech to solve every problem.

(Audience question) What kind of data makes a president wake up at 2:00 AM?

MT: my dashboard has all enrollment, student success data, number of applicants, yield and more. We’ve opened that data up to every single employee at every level of the institution. We have training and role-appropriate drill-down, but everyone can view success data in the aggregate.

Education Technology Uncategorized

Gravitas and Grit: How IT Leaders Inspire Peak Performance


  • Dianna Sadlouskos, Strategic Alliance Partner, Next Generation Executive Search
  • Joanna Young, Principal, JCYCIO
  • Melissa Woo, Senior Vice President for IT & CIO, Stony  Brook University
  • Brendan Guenther, Director for Academic Technology, Michigan State University
  • Russell Beard, Vice President of Information Technology, Bellevue Colllege

NOTE: any errors, omissions or inadvertent misrepresentations are completely my fault. This conversation moved quickly and there was a lot of audience participation my fingers weren’t quite quick enough to catch – I beg your indulgence, dear reader. – Paul

DS: No powerpoint today (yay!), we’re focusing on conversation today. Provided definition of “Grit” by Angela Duckworth (too long to capture).

DS – Question 1: How would you translate grit into your own personal path to leadership?

MW: “stick-to-it-iveness” was the key for me. I went through so many search committees, it was crazy. I incorporated feedback from coaches. Ask for feedback!

JY: first CIO job I applied for was an abject failure. The search consultant’s feedback was really helpful…it was tough, but amazingly helpful advice. Over prepare!  Every meeting you have with your president is a new interview.

RB: you have to have the ability to be patient and learn to breathe.

DS – Any essential grit stories to share?

(Audience member) It’s not only about grit, it’s about the people surrounding you. So many people said “you were great!” which was not helpful as I needed. I interviewed for 13 jobs before I got the one I have now. Just keep going.

DS: just because you don’t get a job, it’s OK, you may still be a very good candidate…you’e not a failure!

DS – Do you think that Grit is something you can develop in people?

BG: I think so. Everyone hits bumps in the road, sometimes you don’t bring the right people onto your team, you have to be able to adapt.

MW: you have to consider tough love. I tend to force people into projects that they are not comfortable with so that they have the opportunity to grow.

JY: job for life is no longer the case. You have to be able to force yourself into a role you’ve never had before. I had no telecom in my background, but I ended up running the largest broadband project in my state (having “wicked smaht” people around me was a great help).

DS – Interest and Practice: is there a difference in how you guide development of these attributes in mid-level managers versus millenials?

BG: the things that you are (where and how you grew up, etc.) have a lot to do with how you think.

JY: I now work for a millenial, someone I hired as an intern. We are learning so much from one another…he is completely fearless. People earlier in their career tend to have a higher degree of confidence (let ’em fail fast and learn fast). However, I want to give them guide rails to keep them from crashing and burning.

MW: at a conference I was at last week, keynote was about “radical candor.” Millenials are not as delicate as you think! Treat them as they are early career.

DS – is there advice you can give the group about how you inspire practice in aspiring leaders?

(Audience member) I don’t give advice, I ask a lot of questions. People with good social IQ pick up on what you’re doing, and will work through things in their head. Set parameters “here’s where I don’t want you to go.”

(Audience member) Give the person permission to fail, but coach them back to success.

DS – How to inspire mid-level managers to engage and re-invigorate their interest?

JY: get a different job and/or a different team.

RB: you’re prepared and need to manifest the presence to perform.

How does talent versus effort impact leaders?

JY: effort is great, but you need to apply effort effectively. Don’t use a teaspoon when a backhoe is the tool you really need. Talent is like a big “T” – you may have depth in tech, but you need to have breadth in business, how your campus works and more.

BG: you have to have the ability to identify talent. For effort, being able to identify the right talent sets among different people to work together.

DS: Can you share examples of staff who were talented but struggled?

DS: Tiger Woods vs. John McEnroe

JY: some of those staff are people who run with scissors who are very talented but are a danger to themselves. Often these people think of themselves as the smartest people in the room.

(Audience member) the smartest people in the room biggest issue is the fact that many of them are unable to be coached.

(Audience member) Coaching those team members is really helpful. For my team, when hiring, the skillset comes second to the ability to work within a team.

JY: rhetorical question: what’s more important: technical skills, or ability to work with faculty? (scattered callouts of “faculty”).

MW: you need to be able to have the difficult conversations to people.

RB: Honest feedback is important and one of the most important things we do as leaders.

How do you encourage staff to take risks and grow?

JY: influence your environment to make failure acceptable, so long as learning occurs.

BG: our role as coach/mentor is to help our staff pull the layers of failure apart so as to teach lessons that they can grow from. You HAVE to be there when your people fail.

RB: questions like “you should think about” were great, not prescribing solutions was important for me.