Managing Progress

 This year is a rebuilding year.  As I wrote about in my reorganization post in the summer, I have three new staff members in my department this year.  We are physically 12_11_2007 08_02 AMspread all over the school, creating divisions that can negatively effect department cohesiveness if we do not stay in frequent contact.

To work around this, we’ve been meeting bi-weekly as a whole department.   I meet daily with my Network Administration and Technical Support Specialist.  I have also scheduled bi-weekly meetings with individual department members.  I know, you’re saying, that’s a lot of meetings.  But these meetings are critical to keeping things going.  To check in and move projects forward.  To know how my staff is feeling.  As we grow more cohesive, I can see taking some time off of these meetings, but for now, they are critical. 

In the support staff meetings, we have been digging through our network settings (active directory policies, Internet settings, and router and switch configs), desktop and laptop image  creation and configuration, policies and procedures, and how to communicate with faculty and staff.  These conversations allow us to share best practices.  It allows us to know what our technical issues are and to wrestle with making decisions for next September. 

In full department meetings, we started by discussing how we are communicating internally, what we have been doing over the semester, and which tools we will be rolling out to the academic community over the next year.  We’ve used so many different technologies over the past few years, that keeping up is tough.  So we created a list of the department blog, wiki, and our web help desk.   We discussed how to use each one.  We use these tools in our day to day work with the school and the department.     

So is this and effective management technique? 

In order to evaluate them, I need to look back to the goals of my department:

  • To provide reliable and consistent access to technology for students, faculty, and staff
  • To develop technology skills in students, faculty and staff that support the curricular goals of the school

If I measure us against those goals, we are definitely more prepared to support our faculty and staff. This is a slow process because we are going through all of our configurations with a fine tooth comb, but we’re fixing support issues that have been nagging us for years and we’re looking to the future for major improvements.

On the classroom integration front, I see progress in taking our more technology savvy faculty to the next level.  We are also making progress in implementing student and faculty curriculum standards.  We are building out our Intranet where we can support WordPress MU, Gallery, Moodle, and some group Drupal sites.  We’ll be concentrating on how we use these tools in the spring.

How do you manage staff transitions?

How do you keep a dispersed department cohesive?

5 thoughts on “Managing Progress

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of meetings. It seems like a good system for your department though. Do people within your department meet with each other individually also? I’ve found our department wiki to help immensely with department communication, and permanently solving and documenting technical issues. It’s like a constantly updated user manual. Are department members required to post to the wiki? I often wonder if mandates are a necessary need of implementing some technology… that’s another issue though.

  2. Hi Aaron — Folks to meet with each other. At lunch or during the day. I do see things easing up, but bi-weekly check ins for individual teachers really help me feel like we are engaged. Some stop by to speak more frequently.
    In terms of online communication, our key system right now is our Web Help Desk. We use our wiki to document systems and post how to’s for faculty and staff on our blog. Complex. We’re working on consolidating it all in one place. That’s a challenge for the spring!

  3. Alex – I’m wondering how the consolidation has gone. Is the CS Tech Dept Blog the end result?

    Here at Ravenscroft School (NC), I sit on the Admin Team (we meet once a week), I have a weekly meeting with my operations team (Network Services & Support Mgr (Tech Side) and Academic Computing Coordinator (Inst. Tech Side). In addition, I have a monthly Network Operations Meetings (My NSSM and System Admin).

    My NSSM also meets weekly with my Sys. Admin and our 2 Help Desk Technicians to ensure smooth flow of break and fix work.

    In addition, I will start meeting bi-monthly with our Asst. Head for Academic Affairs in an effort to look at Strategic Tech items that will affect faculty in all divisions.

    Lots of meetings, but having been here only 2 years we’ve seen lots of movement in the right direction.

    Would love to hear more on how others manage their departments. Perhaps a thread on the ISEnet Ning?

  4. Jason — I think this is a great topic for ISEnet or the ISED-L listserv.

    Things have been going well. We’re working on communication all the time. On the service side, we do ticket reviews, discuss projects, update each other on what we are working on. On the academic side, we’ve been doing bi-weekly meetings to discuss continue to coordinate technology curriculum k-12.

    I am not on our administrative team, but I meet bi weekly with our administrators to make sure they know what I’m up to and I can communicate what the department is up to. I keep agenda’s for each person in my department and the admins so I know what I have and need to speak to them about. Lots of keeping track of small tasks.

    Internally, our department has used our Web Help Desk for tickets and a DokiWiki for documentation. It’s going relatively well, but it takes time and commitment to keep these types of systems up to date. We plan on creating a public web presence on our updated web site or through our blog. We’ll make those decisions during the summer.

    Thanks for coming back to this post. I’d love to participate in an conversation online or off about this.

  5. Thanks for the feedback Alex. I believe that both organizational structure and communication are the key to well run I.T. departments. The trick, is how best to go about it, especially in light of all the great Web 2.0 tools out there.

    Let’s find time to go off-line on this and perhaps bring it to ISEnet and ISED-L.

    aim – jramsden_ny
    googletalk – jason.ramsden
    skype – jramsdennc


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