RMIT opts for spill and fill in tech restructure

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RMIT opts for spill and fill in tech restructure

Adopts matrix management in IT transformation.

RMIT University has asked its current leadership team to apply for new roles in an overhauled IT management structure ahead of a major three-year IT transformation program.

The university is currently advertising for six senior IT managers including a chief technology officer and chief information security officer.

The restructure is being overseen by Paul Oppenheimer, who was appointed RMIT’s director of IT in January. Oppenheimer’s official title was changed to CIO ahead of the restructure.

The radical leadership overhaul will see RMIT’s IT services unit adopt a matrix management structure, with all members of the tech leadership team reporting to Oppenheimer.

The restructure will also mean the university's existing IT leadership will be required to apply for roles within the new structure.

Oppenheimer told iTnews the key catalyst for the overhaul was RMIT reaching the end of its current strategic plan.

With a new vice chancellor and CIO, the university decided it was a good time to examine its overall IT strategy.

“We’re looking at our future direction to ensure we can put the right tech strategy and team forward,” Oppenheimer said.

“Over the past six months, we’ve been doing some quite significant consultation from an IT perspective. We’ve decided to realign from having a traditional IT shop structure to focusing on value streams, with end-to-end responsibility and matrix-discipline.”

Enter the matrix

Unlike traditional hierarchical structures, which rely on top-down reporting lines, matrix management structures have responsibility for tasks organised in a grid or lattice.

Responsibility for each task is shared by a project manager, who is oversees a particular type of task, and a functional manager, who is responsible for a product or service.

RMIT will have three project managers, with the new CTO responsible for systems architecture, a director of the office of the CIO who will oversee program and vendor management, and a CISO in charge of cybersecurity.

The university is also hiring three directors of technology as functional managers, with their portfolios covering learning, teaching and research; university operations; and student acquisition, insights and administration.

Planning a strategy

“[The CTO will] cultivate innovation incubation and adoption of new and emerging technologies,” Oppenheimer said.

“The CTO will play a leading role in the creation and execution of the new ICT plan identifying innovative technology opportunities, options for execution and sequencing the technology plan and shaping and driving program delivery.”

In terms of upcoming projects, Oppenheimer praised the work of his predecessor Brian Clark, and said future ICT activities would build on his efforts.

Key projects overseen by Clark included a student admissions overhaul, as well as the rollout of virtual desktops.

“We’re looking at a number of projects in the digital space looking at how we interact with students," Oppenheimer said.

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