Apr 03 2015

Why Strategic Tech Abandonment Is Key to Moving Forward

Sometimes the only way to make progress is to leave something behind.

If you are reading this and are involved in schools today, or in any other walk of life for that matter, the odds are you have gone through a strategic planning process.

Sometimes these processes are managed by an external party, but strategic planning has become an everyday part of our culture. Strategic planning first appeared in education publications in 1984, so it’s been a key part of schools for over three decades.

I believe there is little doubt that better planning has improved the education of countless students. It is hard to argue that increased focus and defined measurable outcomes have not helped us all move the needle.

But even with all of these plans and strategies, schools sometimes forget one critical term — I briefly mentioned this in Why ‘The Next Big Thing’ Often Leads to Frustrationstrategic abandonment.

In your strategic planning process, are you actively abandoning items that have proved ineffective or inefficient? Ignoring this step can cause increased complexities in all areas of school, but especially with technology.

If one part of an educational institution continues to just add requirements, it is only a matter of time before other parts of the system that support these new things fail.

In the aforementioned article, I discussed systemic, supportable and sustainable change. Schools that fail to look at new education technology projects and programs through these three lenses risk adverse effects on what I like to call learning continuity.

As a former Gulf Coast chief technology officer, I am very familiar with disaster recovery and even business continuity. These terms and processes are absolutely critical, but I think it’s important for school leaders to take these programs and processes one step further. In today’s learning environment, keeping the lights on and recovering data is part of the daily routine, but we must reach further.

In many cases, we can increase our focus on learning continuity by examining large systems that are not core to the mission of the school. As I have said in previous Connect IT blogs, the mission of the school is not to run an email server or a data center.

For example, although the move to cloud email like Office 365 and Google has exploded in recent years, this wasn’t always the case. You don’t have to look in the rearview mirror very long to see that this was once a debate.

I would challenge school leaders to look at what’s next. With the importance of connectivity to learning increasing, could managing your wireless and network be driving your next to move to the cloud?

Perhaps the next step is Platform as a Service (PaaS). A recent study by CDW-G shows cloud adoption in schools is primarily used for email and storage.

Keep in mind that efficiencies gained by strategically abandoning certain systems allow us to invest closer to the classroom. I believe that the more we can invest at the teacher level, the more impact we will have on critical outcomes.

I challenge you to do the following:

  • Define three things that could potentially be strategically abandoned.
  • Conduct a financial analysis to estimate efficiency gains that can be reinvested back into the classroom.
  • Be open-minded and take a hard look at all resources to find which ones have direct impact on the classroom.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology


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