Information technology is a critical aspect for any academic institution. The ability to keep students, staff and faculty members connected and up to date on all the latest information is key to keeping your university running smoothly. It’s not just about technology, though—it’s also about people. If you lose an IT professional in a key role, who will fill that role? How will you find them? And how do you make sure they know everything they need to know in order to be successful at their new job?
How do you know when your university needs a succession plan?
If you’re a president or business officer (CFO/CIO) in a university, the first question to answer is: When is your organization ready for a succession plan? Here are scenarios showing it’s time to start one:
- When there is a change in IT leadership. Most leaders in higher education institutions have tenure that lasts at least five years, and sometimes as long as 10 or 15. If you know someone who will be leaving soon, it’s important to have a succession plan in place so that there won’t be any gaps between their departure date and when the next person takes over. That way, you can ensure your team continues to operate smoothly with minimal disruption.
- When there are changes within the IT organization (e.g., staff departure, new projects and initiatives). If an entire role is changing – for example, if someone has been promoted from being an administrator into another position (or soon retiring) – it would be most effective for them to train their replacement before they leave. That way, everyone knows what their responsibilities will look like going forward (and you can avoid having two people trying to figure out how the other does things). Alternatively, if someone leaves without a successor and another person is hired in from outside, their initial time will be taken up by training since they probably don’t know how things work on campus. This could also be handled through a formalized training process so as not to leave those tasks solely up to a newcomer’s initiative.
Why do presidents and CFOs need to think about IT succession planning now?
IT is too important to the mission of your institution for you not to have a plan in place. As an academic institution, your IT department is at the core of everything that happens on and off campus – it’s the backbone of your organization. If you don’t have a succession plan for key roles within IT, it’s only a matter of time before things begin to fall apart as individuals leave or retire and are not replaced with qualified staff members.
How much time is required to create a succession plan for your academic institution?
Creating an IT succession plan for your institution will require careful planning and research – and the time to complete this will vary.
You may be surprised to learn that the answer depends on many factors, including:
- The size of your organization. If you have a large number of employees who are involved in IT roles, creating a plan will take longer than if you have only a few.
- The complexity of the roles people fill in their departments. If your department has multiple technical experts who perform similar tasks, they each need to be replaced with another expert when they retire or leave the organization. More roles to fill means that creating a succession plan would take less time than if there were only one specialist filling multiple roles (e.g., CIO, director, system administrator and network engineer).
- Whether hiring managers already know where they want their next employee from before searching for candidates within all levels of their institution. For example, a new hire could come in after spending years working at another university nearby while some organizations find it easier to hire qualified applicants from within their own walls.
What are the qualities of an effective succession plan for academic institutions?
- The plan should be based on the institution’s strategic plan.
- The plan should be flexible enough to adapt to change.
- The plan should be reviewed and updated regularly.
- The plan should be shared with key stakeholders the entire institution.
How do you build an effective team to continue moving your institution forward?
To build an effective team for your institution, you need to find people who believe in the future of your institution and its mission. You also need a mix of people with different skills and experiences that complement each other. And once you’ve got a diverse team, it’s often easier to keep it growing.
Creating this team is not easy, but it can be done through a combination of training, mentoring, external partnerships and engagement opportunities.
How can Collegis Education help?
- Collegis can help you evaluate and assess the effectiveness of your IT operation so it is aligned with the institution’s goals and objectives.
- Collegis can help you create a succession plan for your IT roles.
- Collegis can help you build an effective team to continue moving your institution forward.
- Collegis can help with your IT talent strategy.
Academic institutions are facing new challenges as they compete with each other to attract students by providing innovative educational programs. The time to initiate your IT succession plan is now. The sooner you start, the better off you will be in the future!
To meet these challenges, you need a well-planned IT strategy supported by a talented team that can execute it effectively. If your institution has not started this process yet or is looking for ways to improve its current plan, Collegis has the capabilities to help you.