A few tips can help your IT department better handle future challenges while generally improving operations for the long term.

5 ways to make your IT department more efficient

A few tips can help IT departments better handle future challenges while generally improving operations for the long term

Pay Attention to Hiring

I’ve always prioritized hiring workers who could adapt to meet challenges over those with the best credentials. In fact, some of my staff didn’t even come from IT backgrounds. When the pandemic rejiggered our goals and what we needed, having staff with this adaptability paid off. Our team was able to creatively meet new challenges, finding several ways to deliver computers and connectivity to students and staff, while also keeping us all up-to-date with the latest digital teaching tools.

Actively Invest in Team Building

We are fortunate to have several people on staff with aspirations to one day become district IT directors themselves. During the pandemic, it was clear we needed regular check-ins with everyone so that I understood the pressures they were battling, but I also realized this was a great opportunity to show them parts of my job as the IT director. In the past, I handled our district’s e-Rate application and budgeting, not wanting to bother my staff with these administrative tasks. But when considering their long-term goals, I opened up more to show them how I do these tasks. 

Pick Software Tools Carefully

It’s easy for teachers to grab a free learning tool without thinking about the long-term ramifications of security and support. Our IT department decided quickly during the pandemic to standardize the tools offered to our staff. We did listen to teachers’ preferences, but we vetted their choices carefully and if those companies met our expectations, we made the tools available to the entire staff. However, we stuck closely to our standardization plan so that we didn’t dilute our effectiveness or stretch the team out unnecessarily. But we also realized that providing an array of tools gives teachers the flexibility to create their own solutions.

One example is NetSupport, which is used in the six Windows-based CTE labs we run at the high school. This tool allows teachers to see the screens of all their students, jump in and help a student who may be stuck, or simply freeze everyone’s screen to make a quick class-wide point. The company meets the criteria we’ve set for longevity, support, and technical standards so it fit into the district plan despite being used in a very specific setting. We leaned heavily on several software solutions, from a program to control our IT inventory to a way to upgrade our invoice system. Even something as simple as improving our digital signage helped control the influx of insurance forms we suddenly had to deal with. 

During the pandemic, we originally thought that some of our teachers would struggle to use the technology that was handed out rather quickly, but we were proven wrong. Our staff, from newer tech-savvy teachers to veterans who fondly recall using chalkboards and erasers, stepped up and adapted their classes for an entirely different delivery mode. It was heartening and rewarding for all of us in IT to be such a tangible and visible part of instructional success.

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