Back to the Future -- A Management Perspective on Distributed Support


In spring of 1995, Information Technology at Rice University began to implement a distributed model for computing support. The approach decentralized customer support into the academic divisions. The model involves matrixed teams from across Information Technology, the Library, and existing departmental staff. The academic division provides office space and a faculty advisor for the team. The team provides one-on-one or small group training, consulting, reference service, and systems administration. IT facilitates a campus-wide view of technology and architecture, maintains a central view of budget and staff, is accountable for service level commitments, provides core services such as mail and news, and provides technical support for team members. This paper addresses management aspects of distributed support, focusing on the implementation process, changes that were required in transitioning from a strong centralized organization to a distributed/central model, the opportunities and challenges that are being faced in the implementation, and what we have learned so far. This paper has been updated as an article in _CAUSE/EFFECT_ (CEM9645).

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