Sunday, April 17, 2011

Director of IT, Part 2: Responsibilities - Operational Management

Described here are the Operational Management Responsibilities for the Director of IT within the online adult education or professional development space. The post is formatted so the responsibility is identified as the bullet-ed point where the why it is important is highlighted as dark red and in italics.

Operational Management
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of technology standards, industry trends, emerging technologies, and software development best practices by attending relevant conferences and reading widely (include writing a weekly blog and reading your peers’ blogs!).
This is an eat your own dog food kind of a responsibility. All Directors of IT working for adult education organizations should be utilizing (or playing with) many eLearning 2.0 tools and technologies. They should be using these tools and technologies to learn all they can about the emerging technologies and pedagogies to support adult learning. Adult education is quickly moving toward self-directed learners using their personal online networks combined with emerging technologies to learn deeply within a schedule that respects their many responsibilities inside and outside of work. The Director of IT should be doing exactly this for their own professional development. They should continually be blogging about their experience in this realm.
  • Define and communicate company values and standards for acquiring or developing systems, equipment, or software within the company.
Setting the values around, the standards and approaches to bringing new IT systems and infrastructure to the organization is best done as the requirements arise, and no sooner. Grounding these definitions in actual events and decisions honours the organizational culture and assists in peoples understanding toward the innovation. It would be best for these communication activities be through traditional meetings and presentations while also using web 2.0 tools and approaches to provide access to all related artifacts and documents. Being transparent goes a long way toward good leadership.
  • Ensure that technology standards and best practices are maintained across the organization.
Official and rigorous project kickoffs and project postmortems with focus on standards and best practices will assist greatly in bringing alignment to an organizations technology practice. Just in time learning works very well when applied to actual projects, at any stage of their progress.
  • Share knowledge, mentor, and educate the organization’s board or directors, management, staff, partner organizations, customers, volunteers, and stakeholders with regard to the company’s technological vision, opportunities, and challenges.
Having alignment from all parties, stakeholders and leadership with the organizations technological vision, opportunities, and challenges will go a long way to meeting the organizations business objectives and moving technology toward those objectives. Technological change moves at a rapid rate and keeping all decision makers and people impacted by the change well informed will ease implementation and assist in getting management support.
  • Ensure company technical problems are resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner.
For the IT team this should be made one of their topmost KPI's. The ability to resolve technical issues in a timely and cost effective manner will build confidence in the IT team both internally to the team and externally with the organizations staff and partners. Building an IT team culture for resolving technical problems should be a priority for the Director of IT.
  • Develop, track, and control the development and deployment of annual operating and capital budgets for purchasing, staffing, and operations.
Being responsible for the budget means your responsible for the budget. This includes the burn rate for all the IT department does and forces understanding of all items within the IT portfolio. Sometimes it can be surprising where burn can occur, being able to see this in the context of the IT portfolio can be very insightful.
  • Supervise recruitment, training, retention, and organization of all development staff in accordance with the company hiring process, personnel policies, and budget requirements.
Building great teams is hard, keeping them great is even harder. The director of IT needs to have the largest influence of the spirit of the team particularly as the senior representative of the team. Being sensitive toward the internal needs of the team while being mindful of company policy and requirements.
  • Establish standards of performance and monitor conformance for staff (through performance review) and vendors (through service level agreements).
A great deal of flexibility in approach is required for success. Team members and employees are all different and the ways to encourage performance can vary greatly. With Agile teams a 360 performance review approach goes well with sharing the teams successes. Sharing success goes without saying, in the end the individual in the agile team performance assessment is the more difficult. Be open, use facts, be agile about it. Service level agreements go a long way toward encouraging good performance from a vendor or partner.
  • Ensure the company’s internal technological processes and customer-facing services comply with community expectations and applicable laws and regulations for privacy, security, and social responsibility.
Honouring privacy, security and being socially responsible is paramount. All technology teams working in the adult education space need to have eyes and ears to all the issues around intellectual property, personal and cohort privacy and how these fit within content creation, sharing and learning. Opportunities abound within the areas of online learning, knowledge management, content creation and collective intelligence. Building a business in these areas means doing the right thing, but also pushing the boundaries of the legislative boxes. Online learning, new media technologies and content creation / sharing are pushing the boundaries of privacy, security, intellectual property and social responsibility; being active in these areas is where the adult eduction opportunities occur.
  • Promote achievement of the company’s business goals within a context of community collaboration by developing policies for sharing software code, technological innovation, business processes, and other intellectual property.
It may seem counter intuitive for business to share its code, innovation, processes and intellectual property. In a world of hyper competition and knowledge economies how else do you stay in front but by having the community and consumers support you by knowing your business internally and helping in improving on what you do. Business and personalization makes all your customers business partners, particularly when assisting in their life long learning.
  • Contribute to open source software development, standardization of technologies, and evolution of best practices by collaborating with peers outside the company, releasing code, presenting at conferences, and writing for publication (online or offline).
Great ideas often come from unexpected places. And whether you are providing or receiving great ideas is a balance that benefits both parties. Sharing, Contributing and getting out into the open is and essential part of being involved in the conversation.

A complete description for the Director of Information Technology as a pdf follow this link; http://www.rawsthorne.org/docs/directorofit.pdf

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