The Electronic Communications group is a growing fan of awareness and understanding (and signatures) from deans, vice presidents, vice chancellors, and others at similar levels at the University, and then working with communications and other, central staff. There are multiple reasons for our push to work with campuses, colleges, and administrative units more centrally, at a higher level.
The reasons that factor in to our choice of this model in some areas (i.e. mass e-mail) include:
For today, we'll focus on resources, with the other five points to come in future posts.
Availability (read: scarcity) of resources is something many of us are dealing with, especially now. Like every other group at the U, the Electronic Communications group in U Relations has a finite number of staff. We can offer various products and services but need to do so in line with our staffing level, our work plan, and our priorities.
Why do we prefer limiting our work to central contacts? In terms of mass e-mail, it reduces the resources required in U Relations and places the resource burden on the unit, or the unit's parent, that needs to send a mass e-mail. We don't send e-mail as a service and, we can't reasonably expect a group to understand the resources required if we're doing the work for them; mass e-mail isn't free, there's a human cost. Deans, VPs, etc. can make the decision as to who is best suited to deal with these issues in their unit and delegate accordingly. From there, the work can be decentralized or remain centralized.
Additionally, the resources under the umbrella of larger units are more likely to include the necessary skill sets to properly execute a mass e-mail. When you drill down to the lowest level, say a department of ten, there may not be sufficient expertise, or availability, of staff in the communications, Web/HTML, and data/technical areas to do this. See the next part, on expertise, for more about this.
What about backups? When someone is out sick or on vacation who covers their duties? We won't centrally, that's not our role. With more resources available at higher levels, or spread throughout sub-units, issues like redundancy and continuity can be better addressed. Documentation helps, too. Mass e-mail, even one-time mailings, have repeatable processes that tend to differ between groups. Why wouldn't you write this up?
Finally, business needs and priorities need to go toward determining what work gets done and, frankly, when we get to the individual or small group level the, "Let's do this!" mentality seems to set in. Objective analysis of needs and priorities doesn't need to be a drawn out process and can be as simple as someone who's not at the center asking one question: "Why?"
Hopefully this helps you to understand why, from the resource side, we're pushing for the distributed management. Not only does it help us centrally by allowing us to focus our efforts on advancement in many areas, it should help your group as well, for reasons that will become apparent over the next four parts of this series.
Next time: expertise.