Let’s face it: K-12 IT is involved with a lot more departments and functions than most faculty and staff may be aware of. District leadership may not even realize how involved the IT staff is in the daily operations necessary to create an effective teaching/learning environment. But it’s important that we start to change this awareness, especially as technology plays a larger role in the educational process. From justifying staffing needs to encouraging the curriculum side and the “business” side of the school to communicate, IT should be recognized for everything it accomplishes—not just trouble tickets and PC fixes. So as an IT leader, how do you communicate the value your team provides to the people who matter?
Here are three steps to make sure your school IT department is never undervalued again:
1. Start with You
Part of the process is for you to realize how much your team does every day to contribute to student success. It’s tricky because a lot of the work that gets attention is purely tactical (like closing trouble tickets), but you should aim to raise awareness around IT’s strategic contributions. So take the time to start thinking about how you contribute to the business objectives of your district. Don’t forget, this often includes collaborative work with many different departments within the district.
Once you have a general idea of the many areas in which your team has a hand, it’s time to bring them in to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Meet with your team and write down ALL of the operations your staff contributes to, especially the operations that most faculty would not know IT assisted with. This list might include (but is not be limited to): facilities, the print shop, software (sometimes you’re managing hundreds or thousands of packages), finance, special education, phone systems, clocks and bells, student communication and information – even heating/cooling, and lighting and energy management. A member of our team came up with a five-page list once. It’s shocking when you see everything in one place. Keep in mind this list is not about glory or “credit” – it’s about awareness and increased understanding of your ability to contribute strategically.
3. Take the List to Your Leadership
That document is going to be your biggest tool when it comes to educating the leadership about your role within the district. And educating them on your relevance will be a huge step towards contributing to your district’s overall business strategy. This document will help you justify staffing needs, necessary projects, and important initiatives. It will place you in a position as a strategic business partner rather than a cost center. With this document you can get your IT department out of the basement and into the boardroom where they belong.