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In Plain English, Please: Effective IT Communications Mur Muchane Executive Director, Information Technology Services Davidson College

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Presentation on theme: "In Plain English, Please: Effective IT Communications Mur Muchane Executive Director, Information Technology Services Davidson College"— Presentation transcript:

1 In Plain English, Please: Effective IT Communications Mur Muchane Executive Director, Information Technology Services Davidson College Lisa Trubitt Assistant to the CIO for Policy & Communications University at Albany, SUNY

2 How we got here … Met in Dallas at EDUCAUSE 2006 Discovered we were both “translators” for our organizations with a common set of challenges Decided we wanted to continue our conversation with a larger audience

3 Why do we communicate? To educate our users Share information about programs/services Notifications Emergencies and/or service interruptions

4 Common pitfalls in IT communications Hard for non-technical folks to understand Too much information Heavy on technical details

5 About Davidson National Liberal Arts College Located in Davidson, North Carolina ~ 170 faculty, 500 staff ~ 1700 students, all residential 10:1 student to faculty ratio USNWR top ten

6 About IT at Davidson Centralized IT staff of 38 reporting to CIO Five teams: Business Operations Enterprise Applications Instructional Tech & Media Prod. Technology Help Services Systems and Networks

7 Communication at Davidson before … Highly technical Too detailed Wrong tone Monodimensional

8 Increase in Quotas before … Subject: Important information about Faculty and Staff accounts In preparation for introduction of Office 2007 to campus later this month, a change to your account will be made on Friday, September 21st. This change will affect faculty and staff accounts. Students’ accounts were changed at the end of the summer. Friday, September 21 at 5:00 pm, staff and faculty mailboxes will be moved to a new server. The moves will be completed by 9 am on Saturday. An individual’s will be inaccessible for minutes during the actual mailbox move. ITS cannot predict when a specific mailbox will be moved, but we will post an entry on the ITS News blog after all the moves are completed. The mailbox move will be transparent to Outlook users on campus. The next time they start Outlook, it will automatically “discover” that their mailbox is in a new location. If you use Entourage, Smartphone/Active Sync, or Outlook full client from off campus (RPC over HTTP), you will need to make changes to your current setup after your mailbox is on the new server. We will send instructions about those changes next week. If there is a reason your mailbox should not be moved on Friday, September 21, please let us know by Replying to this message. The exciting news is that your storage space on the new server will increase from 100MB to 1GB. Enhancements to the anti-spam software are already in place to help better manage the influx of spam to campus. Information about Office 2007, Outlook Web Access (OWA),anti-virus software change, and Vista will also be forthcoming from ITS. Responses will go to the Help Desk.

9 Increase in Quotas after … Dear Campus Colleagues, We are very pleased to announce larger quotas. On Friday, September 21 st at 5:00 p.m., faculty and staff mailboxes will be moved to a new server and your quota will increase from 100MB to 1GB. The move process will take15-20 minutes per account. Your will be inaccessible during this short window. If moving your account on Friday presents a problem for you, we’ll be happy to accommodate you. Simply let us know by replying to this message. If you use Entourage, a Smartphone, or Outlook from off campus, you will need to make changes to your current setup after your mailbox is on the new server. Please let us know if you have any questions by contacting our Help Desk. Best, Mur Muchane

10 Communication at Davidson now … CIO review of IT messages Revised our vision statement Multiple channels Language appropriate to audience used Simple and direct

11 Communication at Davidson now … From print to blog Less IT clutter Trying to make it interactive

12 Communication at Davidson now … Podcasts Light touch for “unpleasant topics” Recent podcasts include: Avoiding the RIAA Online Privacy Acceptable Use

13 Communication at Davidson now … Cable TV in residence halls Take the message to the students IT Podcasts on channel guide

14 Communication at Davidson now … Cable TV in residence halls Conceptual messages vs. operational

15 Communication at Davidson now … Flat panel monitors Conceptual and humorous IT messages

16 Communication at Davidson now …

17

18 More face time Academic and administrative departmental meetings Faculty retreats Technology advisory groups

19 About UAlbany One of four University Centers in the SUNY system 10 colleges and schools across 3 campuses ~17,000 students (7500 residential) ~4,400 faculty and staff

20 About IT at UAlbany Centralized ITS staff of 130 reports to CIO OCIO staff Client Support Services Information Security Officer Research IT Group Systems Management & Operations Telecommunications University Applications Development ~50 distributed IT staff in colleges, schools and centers

21 Communication at UAlbany before … Internally … Not enough to non-existent Not coordinated Not cooperative Externally … Too bossy Too technical Too apologetic

22 Communication at UAlbany now … Keep it simple Ask yourself: what do people really need to know? Different mechanisms used for different kinds of communicating Centralized through Office of the CIO

23 Communication at UAlbany now … Multiple forums for getting the word out Input from numerous stakeholder groups Becoming better listeners Emphasis on relationship-building and learning more about needs in other divisions

24 Communication Challenges Where’s the rest of the information?! Remember: communication is an on-going process Getting buy-in from executive management Getting buy-in from IT staff

25 Daylight Savings Time Before … Subject Line: Daylight Saving Time Impact on Exchange Daylight Saving Time (DST) Change As of March 11, 2007 Daylight Saving Time starts three weeks earlier and ends one week later than it has in the past. Any devices using date and time to function properly will be impacted, including computers, calendaring applications, mobile devices, and even home electronics like a VCR. The greatest impact on campus has to do with computer time changes and Exchange calendars. What Customers May Notice Microsoft released an operating system patch last week which now has Outlook meetings during the period March 11 - April 1, 2007 appearing to be off by one hour. What ITS is Doing to Address DST We recognize this situation is highly problematic for our customers and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible. The national media has ranked the DST issue on the same scale as Y2K, with weeks instead of months to address issues. Microsoft just released their patches and ITS has begun the implementation process; the steps involved in this process are: Patches will be automatically installed on domain computers over the next two days The Exchange and OWA servers will be taken down for a brief period at 5:00 pm this Friday (2/23) to be patched Once the servers are patched a tool will be run against each person’s Exchange calendar to correct meetings scheduled 3/11-4/1. This tool will take several hours to run and may impact Exchange system performance, so it will be run over the weekend in order to minimize its effect on customer productivity. Exchange and OWA will still be accessible over the weekend. When people return to work Monday, they may have new meeting requests in their inboxes which pertain to meetings that were already scheduled on their calendars, during these three weeks; the tool is designed to send out replacement meeting requests reflecting the corrected meeting time. What Customers Can Do For the remainder of the week, customers may find inaccuracies in meeting times for the period 3/11-4/1. We ask that customers not modify these appointments manually, as once updates are made to the servers the appointment times should be corrected. In the meantime, for new meetings, we recommend that the correct meeting time be listed in the appointment’s subject line and that you verify the accuracy of appointment times for the affected calendar period. This Friday, we ask that you log off of your computer before leaving for the day. On Monday, we ask customers to accept the replacement meeting requests and also check their calendars and confirm any meeting times for the DST period as there is a chance that some meetings may not be fixed by the tool. If meetings are still incorrect after Monday, we encourage customers to contact their Technology Coordinator for assistance; ITS-supported customers can submit a help request at and include a description of the problem. Throughout this new DST period, Microsoft suggests that “all users affected by the time change give extra attention to meetings and appointments scheduled between March 11, 2007 to April 1, 2007 and October 28, 2007 to November 4, People should view any appointments that fall into these date ranges as suspect until they communicate with all meeting invitees to make sure that the item shows up correctly on everyone’s calendar both internally and externally”. ITS will update its website, to cover the DST situation and solutions in more depth, so please check it periodically as information may change. Thank you for your patience and attention to this matter.

26 Daylight Savings Time after … Daylight Saving Time Impacts Calendaring in Outlook! Please be aware that Daylight Saving Time starts three weeks earlier than it has in the past. This will have an effect on your Outlook calendar between March 11 - April 1, ITS is aware of the problem and has a solution. This weekend, we will take the necessary steps to accommodate the new Daylight Saving Time legislation. Please do not attempt to modify any existing appointments, as we expect calendars to be properly updated by Monday morning. It is important that you log off your computer before you leave for the weekend. By Monday, February 26, 2007, you will have replacement meeting requests, which you should accept. We suggest that you check your calendar to ensure the accuracy of appointments. For further information, please visit our website at

27 Lessons Learned Less really is more Lessons from the audience? Solicit feedback from your users; then use it to your advantage Expect to explain why messages are written “your way.”

28 What next? Constituent group, anyone? Other suggestions?


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