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WashU IT Invigorated by the University’s Strategic Plan, “Op Ed by Jennie Frank – An Enterprise Application Perspective.”

Submitted by Jennie Franke

In October, WashU announced its updated vision for the University – to mobilize research, education, and patient care establishing WashU and St. Louis as a global hub for transformative solutions to the deepest societal challenges. Not just any changes, but those focusing on “the deepest societal challenges.” That is both amazing, and ambiguous. It’s invigorating to be part of an organization that’s success isn’t measured by revenue and expenses, but by how we contribute to positive change in our communities – local and global.

On the other hand, as part of a team that is supporting administrative applications, departmental apps used by just a handful of users, and data integrations, it can be difficult to tie our daily grind to “transformative solution.”

I took some time recently to read through the Strategic Plan in more detail – because I want to understand how what we do, as a support team within WashU, will deliver against this vision. While no one on our team is delivering break through research or medical treatment, there’s no doubt in my mind that we are taking care of the fundamentals so that others here at WashU can deliver transformational work.

Here & NextFor Enterprise Applications (EA)
The Plan / People: Make WashU the ideal place for students, faculty, and staff to pursue their goals. The development and support of our faculty and staff are of paramount importance to the future of the university. Faculty drive our mission, and, without our staff, WashU simply could not fulfill that mission.This one! This is the one that most resonates with me. WUIT and EA are the foundation to streamline the bureaucracy that is necessary to ensure accountability (think research grants, accreditation, audited systems). This is core to our work in EA. We support faculty and staff – we enable them to do their work. Ensuring they are safe (through EMS and integrations to ReadySet/Axion), can get where they need (Parking, Card Services Systems), have space to teach and perform research (Archibus, PMWeb), and can lean on teams like VAM (Vended Application Management) to provide their expertise quickly and effectively. We have a whole team dedicated to supporting enabling products to make work easier, with products like Docusign, Qualtrics, ServiceNow, Knowledge Lake, Learn@Work and more. And where possible, automate the repetitive work – like one of our newest initiatives out of the Research/Clinical team to implement the RADAR system (Research Administration Data and Reporting) where we are looking to create a custom app to address regulatory agency reporting needs that are currently being handled manually (by 140+ staff).
The Plan / People: WashU can leverage its status as a major purchaser and investor to create greater equity in the city, state, and regional business environment.The PhysOps team has been supporting an initiative to deliver Vendor Diversity Analytics for the university. Our teams provide the consulting expertise to identify how to leverage what exists currently and where we need to go to realize that vision from a data and systems perspective, with a key focus on integrations.
The Plan / People / Undergraduate Education: Prioritize educational access and foster inclusive excellence by systematically ensuring that our curricula and support systems empower our students to thrive.  I was so excited earlier this year when I heard Dr. Anna Gonzales champion a consistent Student experience from an administrative standpoint (i.e. there shouldn’t be a different process across majors and schools). Our Student teams delivers that foundation. We have a significant team focused on Student Applications – admissions, financial aid, course details, registration, advising, teaching and learning systems. And we are currently working on a replacement for non-accredited courses.
Guiding Principles / Stewardship: WashU rests on the contributions of many generations that pushed the boundaries of knowledge and service, guaranteed the free expression of ideas, and sacrificed time and effort to build our institution. We will honor their careful stewardship by building on the spirit of their accomplishments and ensuring that the resources entrusted to our care grow in a sustainable way so that future generations will retain the ability to further the university’s mission in perpetuity.Our Business Alignment and Solution Architect teams are key in ensuring that before we begin work on a request, that we are evaluating if this is a responsible use of our time. Is there something else we can/should be working on that will more directly impact our mission, or a different approach that will have a greater impact?