I'd like to share this updated version of an earlier post about Simplify, Standardize, Automate.
I've spoken with many of you about particular projects that we are working on. But I believe all our projects are consistent with the general direction of:
We are all aware that the University faces some important challenges this year, and as a result all areas are being asked to do "more with less." I believe the effective way to do "more with less" is to focus on what we do best, and strive to do those things in the most efficient way possible.
To do that, we need to simplify how we deliver those services. By simplifying a thing, we make it easier to support, even as it grows. As we prepare to migrate the www web server to a new server, supported by OIT, Matt and Matt have been working to "prune" old content from our web site, to simplify the content hosted there. We've removed a lot of old content, web sites for groups that no longer exist, pages that were out-of-date years ago. This simplification will make it easier to transition to the new server. And going forward, allow us to implement a new content-management system across the campus.
Keeping things simple also lets us standardize our services, making them easier to support with our limited staff time. For example: this summer, we consolidated personal web site hosting at UMM, from 5 web servers, to 1 server. This reduces the effort necessary to support personal web sites. It may not seem like much at first, supporting personal web site hosting may not take that much time, it's just "one more thing" in the day. But consider all the other things we are asked to do, and "one more thing" may seem pretty big.
Of the three, I believe most strongly to automate the tasks that we perform every day, every week, every month. If you need a report from the Data Warehouse every month, documenting the steps is certainly a good first step. But it's much better to create a script to generate it for you automatically. The file "just appears" when you need it, without having to repeat the steps to create it manually. That's less time to manage an individual thing - leaving you more time to work on other tasks.
My vision with simplify, standardize, automate is to allow us all to build bigger systems, and support more of them. And that is what will allow UMM to do "more with less."