Communications Policy

Information Technology Services (ITS) provides mission-critical support for our educational community. The community must be fully informed of, and appropriately engaged in, significant developments affecting their access to these services. ITS staff explicitly accept the responsibility for communicating appropriate information about system events, policy changes and other updates to the Macalester community. Members of the community, in turn, must take responsibility for staying abreast of information ITS distributes.

CHANGES OF POLICY AND PROCEDURE

The community will be informed of discretionary changes that substantially affect their work well ahead of time. Examples include migration to a new email service or introduction of major new services. When proposed changes are especially significant and are the result of considered choice among multiple viable options, there will be a comment period for community input. If a representative policy-oriented group is available, the choice will be discussed with them. Announcement of pending changes will be made through the Daily Piper, the ITS Notices & Alerts blog and via appropriate listservs. Training and documentation, as needed, will be available at or ahead of the time for the change. Community members are responsible for reading the Piper, blog and listserv posts to inform themselves of impending changes.

IMPLEMENTATIONS, UPGRADES AND OTHER SCHEDULED SYSTEM EVENTS

Occasionally it becomes necessary to interrupt network or system services for routine maintenance, installation of software upgrades, repairs, etc. These events are planned in advance. We will work to alert members of the community to these impending events through multiple communication venues, in the hopes that at least one of these messages will get through to each person who will be affected. When feasible, we will test systems to gauge possible unforeseen problems - however, it is not always possible to perform such tests in advance.

  • ITS-Alerts postings. Notice of scheduled events will be sent out via the ITS-Alerts lists well ahead of time, with appropriate reminders as the scheduled event nears. All Macalester email accounts are subscribed to one of the ITS-Alerts lists when created. Depending on the information being communicated, postings may be sent to ITS-Alerts-Faculty, ITS-Alerts-Staff, ITS-Alerts-Student or some combination of these lists (see http://lists.macalester.edu/). During summer months, when department coordinators with 9- and 10-month contracts are not working, we strongly encourage departments to designate another person to temporarily act as the office's "information contact."
  • Notes in regular campus news media. Information Technology Services staff will publish news on upcoming system events in the Daily Piper if time is available.
  • Archived postings. Postings to the Piper and ITS-Alerts lists will be archived and available.  In general, any ITS communication will be duplicated on the Notices & Alerts blog. 

UNSCHEDULED SYSTEM EVENTS

Unfortunately, unexpected system outages do occur, in which one or more file servers, email services or some portion of the network becomes unavailable without warning. When these events take place, staff will take the following steps to communicate with users:

  • ITS-Alerts postings. Notice of unscheduled events will be sent out via appropriate ITS-Alerts lists as soon as possible when a system event occurs. Office coordinators will be expected to pass along this information to members of their departments. Further messages may be sent as appropriate to keep the community apprised of developments, and a final message will usually be sent when the problem is resolved.
  • Voicemail notification. If an unscheduled system event interrupts campus email service, informational messages will be sent out via targeted voicemail instead of email. In circumstances where the interruption is of extraordinary duration or of campus-wide impact, we may send information either via targeted or all-campus voicemail. We recognize that the latter is not as effective as we wish, since all-campus voicemail messages do not activate telephone handset voicemail lights.
  • Recorded informational message. In the case of interruption of central information technology services, Help Desk staff - or, under certain circumstances (such as after-hours service outages) other ITS staff - will record a message to be placed in the Help Desk's "information queue," accessible 24/7 by dialing 651-696-6525. This message will give information about the unexpected event. Users who would like to be called when a problem is resolved will be able to leave a message requesting this service. When the problem has been resolved, the old message will be replaced by a new one so stating, and giving details as appropriate.