By Teresa de Onis
Last month, I wrote about the higher ed burnout problem and how real it is. I want to return to that topic this week and explore a concept that can help IT teams combat burnout and high workplace stress levels: rightsizing. This topic is important because the pandemic proved that higher ed can be agile when it needs to be. ‘Rona – as I like to call the pandemic – also exposed the underbelly: the gaps in processes to innovate, shortcomings of technology infrastructure, and unsustainable operational and financial models. The pandemic clarified the reasons why over a majority of Americans question the return on investment (ROI) of a college education, as we see calls for greater accessibility, equality, and equity that will not die down once the pandemic is over.
The door has opened for higher ed to use this time to let go of the status quo, time-and resource-hogging operational headaches, and outdated and expensive technology buying models to usher in a new era to create change for good – change that can reverse the public’s negative perceptions of higher ed and ensure it can fulfill its mission for years to come to more students of different backgrounds at a more accessible price. The strategic imperatives have never been clearer. Find and create a path to meaningful campus differentiation. Turn your attention to the enablement of blended learning modalities that will increase enrollment and foster equity. Find efficiencies in technology operations and financial models to drive even more innovation with agility.
During these times of uncertainty, universities often focus on downsizing and forgo or don’t see the opportunity to rightsize. Downsizing alone is brutal and can lead to burnout or demoralization because it has just one goal: reach a certain number. It doesn’t always take into account the needs of the organization or the unique needs of the individuals in it or that it serves.
Rightsizing implies growth. While downsizing is accompanied by cuts, rightsizing focuses on shifting from suboptimal areas and reinvesting in areas that drive sustainability and the future. While both downsizing and rightsizing involve a shift, rightsizing is focused on the benefits of an adjusted perspective and a different way of doing things, rather than on cutting. This mindset opens up more possibilities for problem-solving and strategic prioritization and experimentation.
Rightsizing also implies freedom. The purpose of rightsizing is to free you from any outdated responsibilities that are no longer serving your team or campus. This could mean no longer spending time managing IoT devices that present security threats on your network to instead figuring out how to deliver the CRM that the university fundraising or development team needs to conduct the next campaign. During the rightsizing process, IT teams become free to shift their day-to-day obligations to the more strategic needs of the campus.
At Apogee, our message has been simple: You have 99 jobs. Network infrastructure shouldn’t be one of them. Letting go of the network and putting it in Apogee’s capable hands can give you the headspace and time to focus on strategic initiatives that create real value and drive institutional resilience. The network is key. To innovate around teaching and learning, a robust network is needed. To recruit students, you must deliver uncompromised high-performing Wi-Fi. To conduct game-changing research, you need a network built to last. To drive student engagement and build community, connectivity cannot be an afterthought. Without a robust network, you will fail and lose students.
But that doesn’t mean your team should be the ones managing and maintaining it. Network infrastructure operations and funding models are key targets for rightsizing the ship. It’s imperative that institutions lower network operational costs and gain budget stability and predictability to improve the campus experience and free up resources for pressing priorities.
One of the greatest benefits of partnering with Apogee is peace of mind: You can rely on our combination of deep expertise in both networking and higher ed every step of the way. We can help rightsize your network operations while ensuring that systems are high-performing, and problems are resolved quickly. We also reposition and repurpose your IT staff, allowing them to devote more time to high-value initiatives, reducing burnout and turnover.
These essential services are deployed in a predictable funding model – you know exactly what you’re paying every month for exceptional and guaranteed service levels that far exceed your ability to deliver. You eliminate in-the-weeds daily technology decision making requirements, get continuity over the long-term, and greatly reduce your risk. One especially important note: Apogee wears your colors, knows your culture, and becomes a partner that helps you execute your strategy. We help you trade common operational tasks for a deep bench of partner support.
You have 99 jobs – don’t let network infrastructure be one of them. To begin a conversation with Apogee on the many ways we can help you rightsize, please contact us today.