For university IT leaders, unveiling major tech initiatives can be a bit like handing out Halloween candy: The customers run the gamut from quiet pixies to absolute ghouls, some complain about the quality of the treats, and others have a nagging suspicion that you’ve put razor blades in their apples. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Handled well, the rollout of a big IT project should unfold more like an adult Christmas, with customers receiving presents they’ve wanted and thought about for a long time. In interviews with IT leaders at a range of institutions and companies, eCampus News identified eight strategies to help colleges ensure that constituents see their next big IT project coming with a bow on top.
1.Secure Support from the Top
This is an old chestnut, but it’s no less important for that. The blessing of the top dog can give a project a sense of value and urgency that is hard to achieve otherwise. “Having key buy-in and support at the senior leadership level is critical,” said Pete Young, senior vice president for analytics, planning, and technology at the University of Maryland University College, which launched an Office of Analytics several years ago that was recently spun off as a separate company, HelioCampus. “The full engagement of the president was fundamentally important to our success, and it’s something we’ve heard echoed by many other institutions.”
While diktats from above can sometimes bulldoze a new IT initiative into place, meaningful change occurs only when leadership embraces—and steers—the cultural shifts that often accompany major IT initiatives. “You can’t underestimate the culture change involved,” said Young, explaining that President Javier Miyares led the analytics charge at UMUC by constantly asking to see all the relevant data when considering new issues. “This is where strong support from the top comes into place.”