Every day I have the pleasure of speaking with progressive and bright CIOs across the U.S. and Canada about the issues that make up the fabric of higher education IT. Despite our initial topic of conversation, one sidebar discussion consistently arises: flaws in the way IT departments are measured. There are a number of staff and spend ratios that judge IT, but a lack of diagnostics available to higher education to measure IT performance. It was hard to glean actionable advice from the current instruments available, so EAB partnered with member institutions to develop the IT Functional Diagnostic—a survey tool that measures the maturity and urgency of 29 key capabilities in higher education IT.
Over the summer, we gave you a preview of the trends that emerged from early results of the survey. Approximately 65 institutions have participated since the diagnostic launched, so we wanted to give you an update on our further findings.
Budget size alone is not a great predictor of IT maturity
In fact, many of the budget ratios that are commonly used to judge IT failed to produce trends or explain variations in IT maturity. What we did find was that IT organizations with a greater percentage of their institutional operating expenditures have higher maturity on average. So, if you have a bigger slice of the pie, you tend to be more mature.
Masters institutions are ahead slightly, but consistently in maturity
The analyses we’ve conducted comparing Carnegie Classification to average IT maturity placed research, masters, and baccalaureate institutions within a very tight band, but master’s institutions consistently seemed to be ahead… but by a hair. We believe that master’s institutions may have a mix of traits that allow them to benefit from scale and limit the complexity with which they must grapple, resulting in higher average maturity across the board.
Reporting to the President is correlated with maturity
While the finding is not surprising, it begs the age old question: Did maturity come first, or the reporting line? We’re investigating whether organizations are able to achieve a reporting line to the top executive by increasing their overall maturity (in other words, elevating the department to the stature of strategic partner on their own) or has the reporting line to the president given CIOs on certain campuses the authority and support necessary to grow their maturity? Early feedback suggests that while the support is necessary, it is not sufficient. Attracting the talent necessary to make up a world class IT function requires executive support, but a well-supported IT function must take the right strategic steps to develop IT maturity.