Thursday, April 21, 2011

Director of IT, Part 3: Position Requirements

Described here are the Position Requirements for the Director of IT within the online adult education or professional development space. The post is formatted so the requirements are identified as the bullet-ed point where the why they are important is highlighted as dark red and in italics. This post has varied from the previous two where the importance is described for multiple requirements, rather than for each bullet-ed item. This is because the requirements occur in clusters around skills, knowledge and experience.

Formal Education & Certification
  • University degree in the field of computer science, business administration, or another rigorous IT related discipline. An advanced degree in one these fields or in adult education is a plus.
This requirement is about mastery of software development and business, having an understanding of traditional education approaches is also important for that is where most learners have come from. Completion of an advanced degree is preferred for it provides credibility and shows a commitment to advanced mastery in a subject. Completion of a variety of professional development certifications and online study would demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning and the variety of certifications demonstrates an understanding of different pedagogical approaches.
    Knowledge & Experience

    • Demonstrated ability to envision mobile, tablet and web-based services that meet consumer needs or solve business problems.
    Reference to numerous web sites where envisioning through implementation and into maintenance should be a source of pride for the Director of IT. Getting to completion is hard and seeing projects through to this achievement is a requirement to lead in this area. All members of the IT will check out the Directors work through time. Having numerous references for mobile and tablet may be more difficult as these have only been common to peoples portfolios in the last few years. Any Director of IT should show a deep understanding of all these user platforms and the business opportunities they present.
    • 5 years experience managing web application development.
    • 3 years experience with startup companies.
    Web applications are particularly customer focused; iteration and engaging the customer is very important when developing for the web. People attracted to developing for the web are a particular blend of skills and temperaments, all good. Experience with these two areas are very important for the Director of IT.
      • 5 years experience in public and enterprise environments.
      Most adult education currently resides in large public institutions. Having experience in getting things done within these large institutions and how they operate will assist greatly when building an online adult education organization, for they are your customer / competitor.
      • 5 years experience with social media and development of online communities.
      Much is to be learned by developing, participating in, governing, stewarding and lurking within social media and online communities. These experiences and the shift it creates only comes through being engaged.
      • Familiar with more than one software development methodology.
      • Ability to discern user requirements and develop specifications.
      Much has been learned in the last five decades about how to ship software. This is still a continually evolving field where new methodologies add value to many approaches and methodologies that have come before. This also includes utilizing many good things that have come from the past; specifically, strong requirements gathering and high customer engagement. Working with multiple stakeholders (and customers) to build a shared understanding either before or during software construction is always a best practice.
      • Has contributed to one or more open source projects.
      Open source projects (whether software or educational resources) expose you to the world of openness, particularly the meritocracy. Openness is a shift that is truely understood through hands on experience. This is particularly important for projects within the online educational realm.
      • Hands-on experience coding in more than one currently popular web application framework.
      • Skill with CSS, XHTML, HTML5 one or more Javascript frameworks, and AJAX.
      • Knowledge of version control systems and their benefits.
      This is about reuse and usability. Developing sites (web, tablets and mobile) has many tools, frameworks and approaches that assist teams in being more efficient and provide a better user experience. With the current and increasing focus on rich media and video within the adult learning experience being aware of the standards of CSS and HTML5 becomes increasingly important. Knowledge of version control and their benefits to keeping a healthy code base is an essential part a strong and effective software development team.
      • Skill with PhP and MySQL for application development.
      • Experience with Open Source platforms of MediaWiki, WordPress, Moodle, Drupal and other applications being used in the adult educational space.
      • Knowledge of Internet protocols and RFC standards.
      Most of the successful open source applications within the adult education space are built upon a PhP and MySQL technology stack. Being productive within these technologies will deepen understanding toward building solutions and reusing what is already available.
      • Knowledge of web, web service and RESTful standards.
      Nobody develops solutions in isolation and to be successful your application needs to play well with others. Harvesting and exchanging information connects the learner community to one another, web services, API's and RESTful services implements this inter-connection among sites and online applications.
      • Knowledge and Proficiency with Database design, optimization and administration. 
      The database is a key storage device for your collective intelligence, knowing how this works, is designed, administered and fits with knowing your customer will allow you to make good decisions around your data stewardship strategy and your business intelligence.
      • Experience with UNIX system administration and web server configuration.
      • Experience with Microsoft technology stack with particular focus on office automation, back-office operations and .net software development.
      Care and feeding of the server infrastructure is hugely important for business continuity. The partners, vendors and COTS that create the overall solution will very likely be deployed on a variety of platforms. This is particularity apparent when you include the back-office operational environment in the mix. As the company grows technology / software decisions will be made for growing the product offerings targeted at the customer, but the operational side of the business will also have technology / software needs. These different areas of the business may have solutions on different platforms, the Director of IT will be responsible for these platforms.
      • Familiarity with technical requirements of Internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
      Attracting attention to all of the companies internet offerings; whether products, services or informational is very important to the organizations success. Marketing and SEO requires thoughtful engagement when social media is a growing part of successful marketing and SEO.
      • Familiarity with information security vulnerabilities and risk management.
      • Familiarity with consumer privacy and payments industry compliance requirements.
      Server security and information privacy is paramount. Particularly when your customers need to be participating as themselves within the online learning communities and with their content creation activities. Having a well documented strategy and proven activities (technical and otherwise) within these areas will provide peace of mind and confidence for your customers and operational staff and encourage participation.
      • Exposure to business theory, business process development, governance processes, management, budgeting, and administrative operations.
      The Director of IT provides leadership and decision making for the daily operations for the IT Team. They are also the IT representative on the senior management team, it is expected they provide leadership in growing and keeping IT healthy, budgeting, improving governance and optimizing IT overall.

        Personal Attributes

        • Proven leadership ability.
        • Ability to set and manage priorities judiciously.
        • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
        • Excellent interpersonal skills.
        • Ability to articulate ideas to both technical and non-technical audiences.
        • Exceptionally self-motivated and directed.
        • Strong desire to lead agile / lean software projects and to iterate frequently.
        • Keen attention to detail.
        • Superior analytical, evaluative, and problem-solving abilities.
        • Exceptional service orientation.
        • Ability to motivate in a team-oriented, collaborative environment.

        Work Conditions

        • On-call availability and periodic overtime.
        • Sitting for extended periods of time.
        • Dexterity of hands and fingers (or skill with adaptive devices) to operate a computer keyboard, mouse, and other computing equipment.

        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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