Technology 2.0: Selling Change in Higher Ed. 2011 STEM tech Conference October 4, 2011. Paige Francis, Associate VP of IT NorthWest Arkansas Community College. Background. Paige Francis, AVP of IT 15 years progressive IT experience Corporate background The value of Our Customer - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Technology 2.0:Selling Change in Higher Ed2011 STEMtech ConferenceOctober 4, 2011Paige Francis, Associate VP of ITNorthWest Arkansas Community College
1BackgroundPaige Francis, AVP of IT15 years progressive IT experienceCorporate backgroundThe value of Our CustomerCognizant of, appreciate needs /goalsRole of IT guide, educate , supportGoals of IT Security, stability, service, the edgeFirst let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Paige Francis. I am the Associate Vice President of Information Technology for NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, AR also known as Wal-Mart Country, home of the Walmartians. I have been with the college for a little over 4 years. After completing my education, BA in Communication/Masters in Computer Information Systems, I spent roughly 10 years in the corporate arena. When my family needed to relocate back home, the reputation of our local community college beat out the big bucks offered by the areas corporate giants and Im not sure what the IT department has been like in your school but I experienced an inner come to Jesus with myself resulting in my plan to retire in Higher Ed.
Maybe its my upbringing, maybe its the service-minded attitude expected when working in the corporate environment, maybe its just human nature however a benefit that I bring to every table as the IT leader I am cognizant of and appreciate fully the needs and goals of my customer. I recognize that I am a service provider every person that crosses my path at the college student, faculty and staff they are my customer. We in IT are not present to define needs or force acceptance of new technology, we are there to guide and educate and assist in the natural evolution of technology while being a value-add, a resource for our customer to help our customer meet their goals. Our goals are security, stability and service, while keeping our college somewhere between cutting and bleeding edge technology-wise.2The ClimateFailed upgradeFailed leadershipFailed project managementFresh example of what NOT to do
Leadership change , stabilized environment, then
The full circle of the successful implementation I will introduce today provides a clear snapshot of good project versus bad project. It involves leadership, it involves communication and it involves basic respect. Our climate for the portal project was unstable. In January of 2010, a comedy of errors occurred during a standard, though poorly-managed, consultant-led upgrade. We were using a portal application that went hand-in-hand with our College ERP system, SunGard Banner. We were aware the upgrade would be complex, we had experienced some turnover in the portal management arena and realized our best option to complete the upgrade would be with assistance from the provider. You drive, well keep gas in the car. Long story short, epic project fail. Last minute move of implementation date (to tuition payment due date?!), major concerns voiced by IT middle management on moving forward from November through holiday break, day of transition authentication simply did not work. The consultant du jour, dusted his hands and remotely walked away from his desk. Natural next step? An announcement was sent out by our now-former CIO saying All is complete! Job well done! once again demonstrating the typical It wasnt our mistake, its your issue mentality.
Needless to say, the leadership dynamic changed in the I.T. department within 48 hours of move to Production. We stabilized the portal environment as best we could. And then3WE Changed
Leader IS inspiration, sets toneCommunication is keyThe project begins
OK well that might be a tad dramatic, but we DID change. A leader is a person who guides and inspires others. Above all, they set the tone. It didnt take long to do a 180 in our area. 85% of our IT staff members hungered for collaboration, communication and community. The other 15%? Well, they worked themselves out within a few months. Although we had a basically rinky-dink, held together with paper clips and toothpicks portal, we became a solid force. We were open about our weaknesses and vocal about our goals, achievements and plans for improvement. We were humble and service-oriented something every technology department needs to be. 4Change to IMPROVEInvestigateMeditateParticipationRallyOwnershipVisualize, VentureElicit
5I. InvestigateFirst step examination, explorationAd hoc, event-driven, solution-based, etc.Institutional Research presents grant opportunity to I.T. $1.3MAgreed to a conference call (April 9)Take a deep breath how to proceed?The project beginsThe first step of any project is INVESTIGATION. The examination of current process, the exploration of possibly a more beneficial process. The INVESTIGATION step can occur anytime - ad hoc, event-driven, solution-based. For this example, our first step came as a direct result of a solution-based opportunity.
March 31, 2010. I was invited to a meeting with the head of our Grants/IR department. At the meeting, he handed me a letter. I see its a grant opportunity. I read through it. It was - lo and behold a services-only, portal replacement opportunity. Im a seasoned ITr and my immediate thought was, Ugh what a hassle. No thanks. He said just think about it. I left. Trust that I get the annoyance factor when it comes to change. I love new and different until it impacts me and my typical flow of business. If theres anything I abhor more than change for the sake of change, its the phrase change for the sake of change. But I fought my innate negativity and watched an online demo. I was wowed by the look/feel, by the functionality, by the list of schools roster that had made the switch from our at-the-time current portal provider to this new provider. I was alone in my office wowed by what I had seen. Suddenly our top-dollar, somewhat rigged and unstable portal looked clunky and outdated. I needed to share this. But first, I needed more details. I agreed to a conference call with the provider Friday, April 9, 2010. After the conference call, I became hyper-aware of one note: the portal application process was very specific, required significant College detail and the deadline for submission was literally around the corner April 30. This was definitely going to be an escalated project and process6II. MeditateCurrent situationOverall goalPros/consROIAnticipate every question/conflictBE the professional, Remain impartialNot 100% on your Higher Ed environment, but
After the conference call on April 9, I had established that this new portal could feasibly be a major technology improvement for NorthWest Arkansas Community College. One that, without this grant opportunity, would more than likely not be financially possible.
Step 2 of this project? Meditation . Think. Toil. I started listing pros and cons in my mind. I started running cost analysis scenarios would there be a savings? I dug in deep became the current-solution pro and the possibly-future-solution pro. The next step would be a big one: communication. Communication WITH, not TO, administration, decision-makers, faculty. My time would be finite. The audiences time would be select and valuable. When discussion time comes, you best be ready. And, Im not 100% on how your higher ed environment is, but7When I say CHANGE, you say
This reaction at our College seems to run the gamut major systems changes? Sure expected. But we received the same reaction to the removal of outdated hanging 1980s television sets from the ceiling outside restrooms to gorgeous flat-screens in more appropriate gathering places. Ive just accepted people fear change big and small.8III. ParticipationEasy to find solution and run with itMore challenging/beneficial to vetSales teamsDevise the best of the best list the power-users, those most affected by any change include students! IR, Learner Services, Network, DBA, Programmer (Banner, Web), HR, Marketing, Distance Learning, Student Representation, PR, Library, BCIS, Corporate Learning, Faculty, Deans, Cashiers, FoundationSummer Team!So youve found an improvement/solution for your College. Reign yourself in. Its easy to find a solution and simply run with it. Its more challenging and beneficial long-term to vet this solution with your peers. Enter step 3, PARTICIPATION. Youve been working as a team of one. Weve all experienced sales teams. Most are really, really good at their job. Their job is to sell you something anything. Oftentimes, it could be a product or service you simply dont need. Regardless of history and experience, we can all be entranced and bewitched by sales people.
This third project step is as simple as a selection process cherry-picking the best of the best for collaboration purposes, for participation, the power team. 9III. ParticipationSet clear expectations:Sorry for the late notice - nows the time to review this option GRANT APPLICATION DEADLINE IS APRIL 30, 2010.Explanation of grant will be 3-3:30 phone call/web conference with CampusEAI will begin promptly at 3:30 p.m.Communicate with College Cabinet Today, a committee of various cross campus stakeholders met to review a 1.3 million dollar grant opportunity focusing on portal administration (currently the college uses Luminis). It was decided to pursue the grant application and further research alternatives to Luminis that would bring our portal technology into the 21st century, decrease costs, and offer more advanced services than are currently available to our students and employees.
The first meeting with your participative power team should be an hour/hour and a half let them see exactly what you saw that sparked your interest. FIRST. THEN showcase the change. Showcase the pros/cons. The ROI. The current restrictions. The benefits for the students, faculty, staff. This meetin