So you think you have a good IT plan. You’re in year two of a five year plan but budget cuts hamper your ability to complete the rest of the plan. Declining enrollment is expected for the next few years so budgets will shrink which means fewer resources to execute your plan. You throw your hands in the air and wonder why you spent so much time planning when you have very little ability to influence the outcome.

In a second scenario, another school district in a rural location has highly skilled IT staff but an inexperienced IT leader with little technical background or industry knowledge. He or she is a long-time educator who plays a hybrid role overseeing the technology strategy for the district. There’s often a “disconnect” in your communication and misinterpretation of ideas, process and priorities happen frequently.

When we surveyed IT managers across Canada, 46% claim to be proactive in their management approach, 24% reactive and 30% both reactive and proactive. But many admit that they have little influence on the outcome of their plans. Therefore, very few use their strategic plan as a road map. Even if you have one, you may find many barriers and challenges to fulfilling your mandate. Here are the top 5 reasons why IT strategic plans fail in a school district:

No money. Budget cuts affect the execution of a plan. Instead of buying 4 more servers, you have to settle with 3. Unlike for-profit businesses, schools don’t have the luxury to draw budgets from projected revenue. Student enrollment dictates the budget they have to work with.

No accountability. Many schools, especially in Canada, are administered by unionized staff. With promises of job security and salary based on seniority rather than performance, a union environment can breed an attitude of complacency and entitlement that results in lack of accountability. Restrictions on work hours can create challenges for time sensitive execution

Too much bureaucracy. With so many levels of approvals required, sometimes getting things done is a challenge. Some see the rigid structure of the institution as a hindrance to progress and slows down the pace of execution.

Lack of Governance. On the other hand, a lack of structure, undefined roles and collaboration can also affect how a plan is executed.

Inability to hire Experts. Your IT plan may require the expertise of a consultant with specialized skills and knowledge. But you are unable to move forward due to union issues or budgets. Forced to reallocate, shuffle or compromise to meet project expectations, you manage the project within your limitations.

In our recent survey, 61% of schools currently outsource work while about 39% do not use outsourced support. Those who outsource work feel it alleviates their workload and demands allowing them to accomplish their critical goals and focus on their core responsibilities.

If you have a clearly articulated IT strategy – congratulations. You’re on the right track. If you don’t have a plan and struggle to get one drafted and approved, we can help you to develop a strategy and navigate around the organizational challenges that plague school districts. Learn more about how we can help you build and execute a successful IT Strategic Plan.