Innovation Day brings out the best in IT staff

Baylor’s Information Technology team is comprised of highly inventive and energetic professionals, and Lee Leiber, vice president of information technology, wanted to tap into his team’s creative energy by providing the time needed to focus on improvement and innovation.

That’s why he created the IT Innovation Day – a day set aside for information technology staff members to focus on process improvement and innovative aimed at resolving real IT challenges at the College. The inaugural Innovation Day was held June 22 on the McGovern Campus.

Staff interested in participating were asked to submit a brief overview of their proposed project for approval by their manager. Team members who received approval could set aside their normal responsibilities for one day to research and develop solutions. They could work alone or in teams, but all were expected to return the following week with a 5-minute presentation of their results to a larger audience for consideration.

In total, 35 staff participated across 20 projects, ranging from developing a system to manage warranty information on personal computers to replacing a legacy backup technology. Nine projects were designated to be implemented immediately, five more were endorsed to be added to the Information Technology roadmap of future projects, and three were identified to be presented to business stakeholders for further consideration.

Lee Leiber

Lee Leiber

Leiber noted that over the past two decades, there has been exponential growth in the demand for IT services. However, resources to fulfill those demands are limited. The path to resolve the tension between IT supply and IT demand lies with continual process improvement and technology innovation, he said, although dedicated time to do that is in short supply.

“I thought it was important to hold this event to allow our IT staff the time to address current challenges and to work on their ideas for technology improvement at the College,” Leiber said. “One of the projects realized a savings of $50,000 for the College, and others have the potential to realize even more efficiencies. I’d say the event was a resounding success and plan to host more such events in the future.”

The projects marked for implementation include:

  • Automate validating warranty information on personal computers, then using this information to provide equipment replacement recommendations to users. (Mike Morrison, Anthony Alvior, Kim Nguyen)
  • Creating new processes for managing email distribution lists with the goal of reducing complexity. (Glenn Armbruster)
  • Leveraging Microsoft Power BI, an analytics service, to gain an understanding of information security threats and remediation. (Cynthia Soares)
  • Using existing software and technology to create a toolkit for the Help Desk to expand its capabilities and streamline certain tasks. (Lee Leonhart)
  • Creating a central hub for IT staff to access learning, training and development resources and opportunities, which also will aid in managing and tracking staff members’ skills and knowledge. (Thelma Ramirez-Miller)
  • Developing strategies to efficiently share information and knowledge within the IT office. (Prashanthi Selvanarayanan)
  • Creating a central hub to manage the daily schedule of automated jobs and log and track errors and job progress. (Dwayne Brooms)
  • Replacing the current backup and recovery management system, offering a cost savings to the organization and maintaining the integrity of data. (Dwayne Ellis, Michael Pool)
  • Creating an enterprise data catalog and exploring the use of Azure Data Catalog as a possible solution. (Vamshi Punugoti, Spoorthy Mareddy, Doug Compton)