If you are a follower of my blog (well, the collection of random blog posts I’ve written), you’ll know that almost exactly a year ago, I moved from a position of IT Manager in a School to my post in Information Services as the Technology Enhanced Learning Team manager. It’s funny to look back and reflect on what I, as a School IT Manager, thought IS did. Don’t get me wrong – I totally understood that my colleagues in IS worked really hard and were super helpful when I had picky, annoying questions (yep, I’m that person!!!) but actually working in IS for a year has totally opened my eyes – and I do think there’s a benefit to having worked in both a School and IS and that we should be routinely made to go and ‘walk in another person’s shoes’ in order to keep our minds and imaginations open.
Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned (this is a very short version, the long version is much too long for a blog post and continues to grow daily!!!):
- There is like literally NEVER a good time to make a service change. Watching the process of trying to organising a good time for a security patch for Learn which required a day of downtime was painful. In the end, we just had to make a decision on the ‘least bad time’. It wasn’t easy and I felt major guilt but it was an urgent patch and I’d have felt worse if the vulnerability had been exploited so I guess it was a bit of a trade off. That leads me onto no 2…
- You can’t please everyone all of the time. This has been particularly hard for me. I like to think that I’m someone who’d go the extra mile to help people in need and have always taken great satisfaction from doing that. I realise that in my new(ish) job, that’s impossible. It is likely that the very act of making someone happy will make someone else unhappy. I think what I’ve learned (and granted, I’m still learning) is that you need to pick the least bad time/outcome, focus on the wider benefits and try to work with people to make it a small pain rather than a big pain.
- I have some amazing colleagues. There are people here who were almost invisible to me when in my School IT Manager role, but I see them now and how crucial they are to the working of the institution and how much we rely on them. They have been absolutely critical to the work I’ve been involved in over the last year – service managers, project managers, infrastructure and database admin, application support people (the techie kind!) and developers. That’s not to say that the IS staff I knew before I arrived are any less amazing – it just shocked me that I was completely oblivious to a whole group of people who are so critical to the services I used in the School.
- I’ve also learned loads about policies, regulations and procurement (and continue to!) but that’s a story for another day.
- And of course, I’ve learned that there still aren’t enough hours in the day. There are so many things bubbling around in my brain (and I know all these amazing colleagues I’ve spoken about have their own ideas bubbling away too) and there’s just not enough time to do everything. So I’m having to work on my prioritisation skills too – we need to keep services running, not just think of ideas for new ones.
I have many more things to say one-year-on but it’s getting to the point that this blog post’s been a draft for over a month so it’s time to post it. I will publish just now and start a new blog post soon.
Thanks for reading!