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Strategic Planning for Collaboration: What You Need Right Now

By Joe Prchlik posted 06-10-2020 02:39 PM


The ongoing pandemic forced administrators and teachers to seek out collaboration platforms and video conferencing solutions to host virtual meetings and online learning. Such a rapid shift meant many districts didn’t have time to properly evaluate a technology solution that was right for their continuity plan—one that took into full consideration the needs of their people and processes. This patch approach meant districts were particularly exposed to security risks, experienced inconsistent platforms and developed no enhancements to their processes.  

With both the demands and struggles arising from COVID19 at the global forefront, now’s the time for school administrators to really assess their environment and evaluate which collaboration and/or video conferencing solution would best fit the strategic goals of their continuity plan. In our May eNews article, we defined which technology applications you’re already using or missing, and we differentiated which applications aren’t truly enhancing your unique collaborative architecture. Today we’re going to  talk about the foundations for a collaborative mindset across your people, processes, and technology.


Efficiency relies on your people being able to complete their work and access key tools for communication and productivity, especially in a remote environment. Consider your staff’s pain points and how your collaboration system can alleviate these stresses. These pain points may look different from your administrative office and instructional faculty. For example, administrative staff may not stress about the quality of their video conferencing system the way a teacher may for remote instruction, but that same staff may voice a need for a secure, encrypted file-sharing platform. It’s vital that all of your people are heard, their individual needs considered and given proper support. After all, without people there’s no organization.


Understanding your staff’s workflow and processes is critical to selecting a collaboration platform. People are more effective with proper processes in place to support their responsibilities. For instance, if the administrative staff is accessing and sharing sensitive data with other team members daily, they should be able to share files securely and quickly. What if, in another scenario, your teachers are instructing remotely and consistently have to answer student questions after a virtual lesson—is the back and forth of email chains really the most efficient and secure way to communicate?  Or would a system that had video conferencing, scheduling, and messaging be a better, streamlined fit?

Collaboration solutions for these two groups don’t have to be the same—technology solutions are rarely “one size fits all.” But all of your faculty and staff should have dedicated support and training not only for daily operations but also to safeguard privacy and mitigate security and financial risks.

When technology integrates with workflows, people innovate, automate, and find new ways of enhancing familiar routines.


Once you understand how your people leverage technology with their processes, you can then investigate which collaboration system to implement. These systems can largely depend on your technology infrastructure and bandwidth, so it’s crucial that you understand your network infrastructure’s current state to ensure your environment can support this integration. Consider the benefits of a third-party assessment that helps to identify vulnerabilities and exposures. A thorough examination of your infrastructure will provide valuable data that empowers your district leadership to make key strategic decisions about your collaboration system selection and continuance plans.  



Karl Seiler also contributed to this article and is the President of DataServ

Joe Prchlik is the Director of Operations and Technology at Northern Buckeye Education Council (NBEC). DataServ and NBEC are the founding alliance members of the ShareOhio partnership.