2020 Educause Top 10 Issues: #9 is Administrative Simplification

The Top 10 Issues of 2020 for higher education technology were announced at October’s 2019 Educause conference. Each year I share my thoughts on the issues, from #10 to #1. Feel free to review all of the issues on the Educause website: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/1/top-10-it-issues-2020-the-drive-to-digital-transformation-begins 

#9 Issue: Administrative Simplification
Applying user-centered design, process improvement, and system reengineering to reduce redundant or unnecessary efforts and improve end-user experiences.

Level with me Educause, you made this list specifically for me, didn’t you? First the ol’ Integrative CIO, now this?

So, yes, we all need to be focusing on simplifying all the workplace administrivia. If we’re not providing an environment that makes our colleagues and customers “job” simpler and less stressful at the very least, then what are we doing? We are supposed to facilitate work and progress. It starts with listening, identifying, prioritizing, planning, DOING. Rinse. Repeat.

Interestingly I’ve just embarked on level:less than zero in the hot pursuit of administrative simplification in Tulsa. Such a challenge that I’ve dedicated 20 full weeks of weekly blog posts to detailing how we scraped the barrel bottom in search of that even lower level. We are starting from scratch. Yet we have to first get to scratch to rebuild, re-engineer, re-imagine and only then slowly implement tangible, bold improvements. So while the next 20 weeks promise to be stressful and unbelievably unsexy, I am dedicating my most engaging self to make our path kickoff exciting and relatable. I’m also super-convinced that there are MANY INSTITUTONS, like bigger than a breadbasket-full, that need to cut bait on current legacy environment pieces/parts and, to reach peak impact, start from scratch. We walk into new environments and, in many instances, it’s a bit Groundhog Day -ish. But it’s familiar and, I’m realizing, each university needs this. They need eyes that walk in having done this before. That voice of reality – of course we can do this. We can do this together. Let’s learn our people, let’s learn our audience, let’s identify those gaps (it’s going to be budget, lack of training, outdated systems, legacy investments, etc. IT’S ALWAYS THESE THINGS) – then let’s do this!

It’s ALL SO POSSIBLE. Based on my experience, the kryptonite for this particular issue involve one to all of the following traits:

  • Fear
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Lack of experience/professional maturity
  • Inability to empower progress
  • Over-reader, under-doer

Note: don’t be that.

For optimum Administrative Simplification, you need that Integrative CIO. Trusted, capable, accountable, authentic. Learn the people, learn the business, learn the pain points, prioritize the work, execute, continue to listen. Don’t over-engineer or over-architect. Don’t over-manage or drip jargon and buzzwords. Use a common language and be transparent about all the steps. Use every drop of what you have that is good. Communicate throughout – up and down. Be prepared to give an elevator speech on EVERY piece of the roadmap. These changes introduce a (hopefully enthusiastic) culture of work smarter, train harder, life balance, happy employees. It’s really a foundational first task. And boy don’t I know it. It’s such a blessing to get to refine and reintroduce the value of technology leadership and technology in general as an effortless-feeling facilitator of administration. Lots of work, but is there anything more professionally rewarding than exceeding expectations? Absolutely not.

Until next entry…

This year Educause introduced something new into their Top 10 write-up. They have added forecasting and tangible steps to improve in the issue areas. It’s more than a list now – it’s a learning tool! See for yourself: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/1/top-10-it-issues-2020-the-drive-to-digital-transformation-begins

Referenced reading:

Week 1: Acceptance of the #20wkTechTransformation

Similar past posts:

CIOs Driving the Institutional Improvement Train