The Role of Centralization

Inside Nord Hall from the second story staircase

In light of rapidly expanding information security threats and enormous opportunities to enhance all aspects of technology on campus, Case Western Reserve launched a university-wide IT Centralization process in December of 2015. This initiative began with university-wide units - for example, the Division of Student Affairs - even as IT leadership conducted multiple gatherings to inform stakeholders directly about the effort and answer early questions. From there this process will begin to extend to each of the schools, with an ultimate goal of completing the mechanics of the transition within fiscal year 2017. 

While this shift is not an initiative emerging from the strategic plan, its perceived and actual magnitude is such that it merits some discussion within this document.  

The following guiding principles will help maintain focus on the initiative at hand. 

Guiding Principle #1 - Moving to a Culture of “We”

One of the catalysts for Centralization was recognition that in pulling together the enormous and diverse talents of those who work in technology across the university, both those individuals and the university they serve would benefit. While the vast majority of individuals will continue to work in and/or for the same units or schools, they also will be part of the university’s larger IT organization. Changing structural and reporting lines is a first step, but the most important one is to forge the robust spirit of a truly unified team. Such a sense does not come from an organizational chart, but an authentic and collective effort to share ideas, experiences and opportunities with one another. In this model, all members appreciate their value to their individual unit and the larger organization, and in turn see their contributions recognized across their own areas and the larger IT community. 

Guiding Principle #2 - Honoring What Is and Has Been

The purpose of Centralization is to enhance and improve existing services and functions. Achieving those goals requires two distinct steps: understanding what has existed and why and identifying how to preserve the best of the past even as we create a new, even more ambitious IT division. 

Guiding Principle #3 - A New Destination

Centralization must involve more than changing reporting lines if it is to realize its immense potential. The fundamental ideal is to build a new organization where the whole truly is greater than the sum of its individual parts. What that future state looks like will depend largely on those who are part of this new IT organization: what they bring to the new setting, what they gain and learn from it and how they all identify additional ways to serve their immediate stakeholders, as well as benefit the university at large.