DAILY INSIGHT: Technology and Taxes

It's tax time. Have you assessed your district's needs?
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By Rob Mancabelli, CIO Advisor

Have you finished your technology planning for the start of school? April 15th, “tax day” in the U.S., is a good deadline for it. It gives tech personnel invaluable time to coordinate with stakeholders on critical details (before some leave for the summer), and it ensures that you hit the ground running with your implementations when school is done. Here are a few thoughts on how to get the plan in place:

  1. Make The Long List: Start by compiling a comprehensive list of all the proposed changes for next year. This is commonly done throughout the school year, but now is the time to make sure it is complete. Key Question: Have we have talked with all stakeholders—faculty, staff, students, administrators, technology staff, parents and others—to find out what they want/need for next year?
  2. Research, Research, Research: The longest part of the process can be getting the information you need to make decisions. Ask customers not only about their requirements, but about the impact and scope of the changes they propose. Reach out to vendors for ballpark quotes on projects, and think about which projects will create added value if they are implemented at the same time. Key Question: Am I clear about the impact and cost of each proposed program?
  3. Make the Short List: We all have more projects than we have time and money. To make tough decisions, it’s helpful to create a one-page scorecard that measures the value of each project. List the initiatives on the left hand side of the scorecard and the categories of measurement across the top—things like impact on teaching and learning, number of students affected, increase in efficiency, cost, personnel time, whether it’s a mandated requirement, etc. Rate each project numerically to determine which ones deliver the most benefit for the time and money. It’s not perfect—no system is—but it can serve as a terrific starting point for conversations with stakeholders. Key Question: Which of these projects will create the greatest benefits for the investment?
  4. Be Transparent Along the Way: As you walk though these steps, share your research with your stakeholders. Have an internal site where people can see what initiatives have been proposed, so they can have a better understanding of all the programs competing for scarce dollars. It can feel politically precarious to be this open, but it can build a respect for your decision making process. It also helps your stakeholders plan for next year. Key Question: Does each and every stakeholder have a clear understanding of the technologies that will be available to them next year?

These are just a few thoughts as we close in on “tax day.” What steps are going into the development of your plan for next year?

Weigh in at www.mancabelli.com

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