Rebuilding A Technology Program

Wait as Long as You Possibly Can Afford To Wait
Jun 22, 2015
by Gabriel Lucas

Last time we discussed the first step in hiring great technology talent: looking around your school to see what holes need to be filled and what kind of technology professional would fit with your environment. Once that’s done, it’s time to go fishing. Just make sure you avoid phishing while fishing.

Perhaps one of the first things a school leadership team needs to ask is, are we going to do it the New York Yankees way or the Oakland Athletics way? The New York Yankees have plenty of money to spend, so each year their management finds the best free-agent talent no matter the cost. The Oakland Athletics have a constrained budget, so using their famous Moneyball-like approach their management looks for undervalued players with a huge upside.

Both options have merit. Seasoned professionals—be they IT or academic professionals—are worth every penny. They typically have a broad understanding of multiple systems and technologies, as well as usually a certification or two demonstrating deep knowledge in a specific area. Less experienced professionals are of course cheaper to hire, but they also may be less wedded to particular products or solutions—a quality that could be particularly attractive to a school looking to undergo significant changes to its technology program.

There is a hybrid solution that many schools ought to consider, particularly ones that are in rebuilding mode. Simply put, the idea is to find one free-agent star, and then surround him or her with raw, unseasoned talent. The ROI for this model has the potential to be quite high because the overall investment can be kept to a minimum, and the department is more likely to coalesce quickly around a single leader.

Consider a school that has three technology positions: perhaps a director, an academic technology coordinator, and a systems administrator / help desk specialist. Once a director is hired, it may be tempting to look immediately to fill any other vacancies with full-time, seasoned professionals. But as we talked about in the last article, every department needs role players.

More on how to make this work next time…