There are many pressures on education technology support organizations to do more and do it more efficiently. Rising numbers of computers on desktops, increased use of server based applications, ever increasing demand for network related services and a steady move toward more dependence on technology resources for critical functions puts technology managers in a position of having to deliver more than ever before with no clear indication that demands will peak. Too often, with all this demand for service comes little understanding from other senior district managers for increasing the available resources to technology support. Any request for additional staffing or vendor support services is competing with a myriad of other seemingly more, or at least just as, important needs.
Good organization not only helps a manager deliver services more effectively, but it can provide the clear vision needed to allow other managers to understand what will be provided and how resources given or taken away will affect them. This is invaluable in helping to justify increases in staffing, budget, etc. since it helps garner support from the ‘customer’ base supported.
In this post, I will be discussing the development and maintenance of Technology Resources Support Organizations (TRSO) for school districts. End users of district systems and applications will be addressed as ‘customers’ of the TRSO. Indeed, they are customers, for without them there would be no need for a TRSO.
The figure below, Organization Development Process, gives a high level view of the methodology discussed in this post, the major elements of the process and how they fit together. It begins with gathering information so we understand what is needed, priorities, and resources available. Next the work is broken down for estimation and planning purposes. Once estimates are made of what is needed, resources required are defined and a ‘desired’ organization is developed. This desired organization is the vision of where the organization should be heading.
The process next takes us into the steps needed to make the best of our situation by assigning available personnel and collapsing the organization to one that can be populated by those currently on staff. Finally, the process provides for monitoring and adjustments as needed.
Developing a vision of the ‘desired’ organization from good estimates of the actual and anticipated work load is important for a number of reasons. It gives you direction and a baseline that is founded on facts and estimates which can be validated, refined and supported. This well developed and supported approach provides a solid foundation for requesting additional resources. It will also serve you well as you explain and point out the types and places where your resources are deficient. If there are cuts in staffing or funds, you will immediately be able to assess the impact.
The descriptor ‘desired’ is used instead of optimal purposely. The optimal organization is developed from the desired by testing how well it works and adjusting it. If you have not developed your organization in a bottom up manner such as is described here, you will likely need to go through this process a few times before your organization is optimal. Of course, this is a moving target for a fast growing district and may require substantial adjustments each year.
In my next post, I’ll discuss information gathering (i.e. inventory of systems, budget and spending plans, future needs, regulatory requirements, etc.)