Ever wondered who is responsible for the management of your school's database? It’s a more common question than you might think.
Why does database ownership matter?
Without clear system ownership, understanding of how everything works together and moves forward can become confused; and issues such as database inconsistencies and overlooked updates can arise.
"Our system was never really owned by anyone; it just existed. Each department did their own thing, but most didn’t know what features were available, lacked the time to implement them and didn’t understand how to get the most out of features.”
What was the catalyst for change?
“A TASS manager came down one year, looked at our system and left shaking her head. We were not using nearly as many features as we could have been. It’s always nice to get someone that’s not from your organisation to come in and say, ‘this system needs work’.”
Someone external who can take concerns to leadership without bias is often be the catalyst for important structural change.
Who owns the School Management System?
Chairo developed a specific model for system governance, with IT taking on the role as facilitators:
“Our role as IT is to support the system, provide literacy training for IT related matters, maintenance, data integrity and process automation.
IT does not dictate who does what but does manage implementation of new features and how data is put together and stored, by assisting all departments.”
What roles are there in database management?
Everyone has an important role to play in the day-to-day management of a school database. But who should take care of what?
Chairo’s database administration relies on three main roles: a dedicated Information Systems Coordinator, Administrator, and Trainer.
“We’ve setup an IT team that are facilitators. Our role first and foremost is to help people achieve their goals.”
Who should have access?
Data security is of utmost importance for schools, and a big part of that is limiting who has access to your database and to what areas.
“Sometimes staff can ask for access to something without necessarily understanding what they are asking for. That doesn’t mean they can’t have it, but they should have it in a sustainable way that doesn’t mean giving free reign of the entire database.
It’s important to have an Administrator who understands the system, has the access and can interpret what people are asking for.”
Who’s calling the shots?
Just because a department may own a specific area of the system, does not mean they should be the only ones making decisions.
Chairo stressed the importance of involving a variety of voices:
“From a teaching and learning perspective, there’s a Teaching and Learning Team that IT is a part of.
Then we have an ICT Committee, which consists of our Business Manager, ICT Services Manager, and ICT Infrastructure Manager - we lead and make decisions around general tech solutions.
Finally, we have an overarching Executive Leadership Team, so when everyone is impacted, they need to be involved in the conversation.”
Database management is something that if left unchecked, can cause some serious issues. But as the team at Chairo have proven to TASS, with the right teamwork the question of who owns a School Management System can be answered confidently.