A shared services model is helping the University of Michigan rein in runaway IT costs so it can invest in learning technology.

Under the leadership of Laura McCain Patterson, the university is consolidating commodity IT services across schools and colleges. The university’s 44 email services gave way to one cloud collaboration service. And the university is halfway through a project that will turn 193 desktop support services and 102 help desks into one shared service.

But despite these consolidation efforts, McCain Patterson has avoided layoffs in the past two years by promoting retirement buyouts, moving people around and leaving vacant positions unfilled. This personnel strategy cut 80 to 90 IT positions and saved nearly $10 million a year.

“We have to move to next-generation technologies to keep pace with what our researchers need, what our students expect and what our faculty want to use in the classroom,” she said. “And we recognized that we could not do that on top of our current IT spend.”

Because of savings in personnel and services, the remaining IT staff in the university’s schools and colleges have more time to support faculty. Both faculty and IT staff can build technology tools more cost effectively with shared infrastructure in the cloud. And these tools could spread to other schools and quickly receive university support as a shared service.

“We really see this model as enabling innovation and promoting innovation of those edge technologies that Michigan has been known for in the past.”

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Tanya Roscorla  |  Managing Editor, CDE

Tanya Roscorla covers education technology in the classroom, behind the scenes and on the legislative agenda. Likes: Experimenting in the kitchen, cooking up cool crafts, reading good books.