Information Technology is a Support Branch, And We Suck at Support

Putting some thought into IT and what we do, let's consider the facts.

  1. IT is a needed entity in any functional business, with very few exceptions.
  2. The business utilizes IT to ensure day-to-day operations remain consistent and ongoing.
  3. IT is in a position to suggest changes to ensure business continuity.
  4. Ultimately, the business is in the position to complete changes to ensure business continuity.

Now working in the education sector, points 3 and 4 can be bent quite a bit before attracting the attention of one another. Most of the time, IT remains an autonomous entity and can function without much input from key business personnel. However, changes that can affect the organization as a whole need to be communicated and agreed upon before any implementation scope is determined... yes, I have learned that the hard way.

Let's narrow down our scope, though - now we don't want to talk about the big changes, the organizational efforts, and all that jazz. Let's talk about the ones who rely on IT in order to perform their job to ensure the business stays alive. In education, every single department plays a role in keeping the business alive - look at full-time equivalancy (FTE) and headcount statistics when you get a moment as here's where it gets fun.

Students are the reason the education sector stays alive. Any potential employee of the education sector that has any interaction with any student has the ability to either help retain the student or push the student away. If we as a whole push enough away, we lose funding, which means we lose jobs. If we as a whole engage with every individual and ensure their success, we remain funded.

So with that, why is IT so hesitant in assisting others who interact directly with our funding?

We bitch, we moan, we complain, we get angry, anytime we get a notice of an issue that could be reasonably solved by documentation and training. Of course, the effort then lies on building the materials for documentation and training, and we then believe it's not our problem, training is handled by X.

Look, I get it - documentation sucks. Building training modules suck. It's very demotivating when you finally get a training set and no one shows up. But that doesn't mean stop doing it. To quit your effort in a support role is only to the degradation of the business.

IT affects every single individual of a business, whether directly or indirectly. As a collective, we have to be customer service oriented, period - even if that means putting requests in on behalf of individuals, offering training sessions, documentating frequently asked questions, and overall being personable to everyone we interact with.

IT has a stigma when viewed, and it's not favorable. We have the ability to make IT be synonymous with helpfulness, success, care, but we're not quite there yet. It only takes a little bit of effort...

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