Of all the challenges facing the opening of the new Howard L. Hawks Hall at the start of the fall 2017 semester, one of the biggest involved equipping the facility with innovative new technology to help improve the educational experience for students, faculty, staff and alumni. David Hartline, director of information technology and facilities operation, proclaimed it to be one of the biggest IT projects in the history of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Demands included installing a new computer for almost every employee, delivering new dual monitor systems, upgrading phone technologies, activating ports and creating digital sign displays throughout the building.
Each IT team undertook their missions strategically. Davis Podany, assistant director for new media and technology, emphasized the importance of communication channels. His team oversaw switching the copper analogue phones to digital voice over IP phones and setting up the cable in the new building. Both tasks required collaborating with outside organizations, such as UNL Telecom and Spectrum Cable. While working with these groups, he also had to stay on task with individual responsibilities, such as installing digital signage, which grew significantly in the new building.
The communication theme was also important within other staff. This move granted “the opportunity to develop our communication as a team,” said Ty Biggerstaff, technical solutions center supervisor. Student workers received the task of removing technology from the old building, as well as installing hardware and performing computer setups for student computers in Hawks Hall.
A daily team agenda delegated tasks to each individual. Set times were assigned for communicating progress or asking for assistance. The introduction of “slack,” an instant messaging system, helped give colleagues instantaneous communication with one another. The implementation of a new queue in MySupport related solely to tracking new building tasks. “David Hartline did this to allow the team to better funnel the information and promote easier delegation amongst the team,” said Biggerstaff.
The entire moving process began in November 2016. Jeff Sherrill, assistant director for information, technology, training and infrastructure, helped lead the request for proposal team. He kept a sharp focus on price and product options. After looking over all offers, the RFP team chose GovConnection to supply Hewlett Packard computers.
“We purchased 240 faculty and staff computers, 61 computer lab machines, 49 trading room computers, more than 40 digital sign PCs, 10 email stations and 24 computers for the teaching and learning center,” said Sherrill, whose team was responsible for receiving the machines and deploying them into the new building while collaborating with outside vendor TekSystems. “Our team’s goal was to create an environment that fostered collaboration among the faculty and staff and providing the computers that would get the job done.”
The College of Business faculty, staff and students talk about the benefits of the new building daily. When speaking with Rik Barrera, associate dean of student services and COO, he talked about how happy he was to see the entire college pull together and get through this move.
“In an ideal situation we would have had more time to move into the new building and install the new technology, but our team made due with the time allowed. The pride that the college has over the new building and the move is very evident. I wants to thank the leadership, the teamwork and the positivity in everyone that helped us pull this off,” said Barrera.