Revealed: the technician's wish list
Working with technical teams in over 100 universities and colleges, we know how pressured the technician’s role can be with time often in short supply. But if time was no object, what would they most like to do more of?
We asked our customers the question (quickly and at an opportune moment!), and compiled the findings. The wish list makes for interesting reading, revealing the most important areas where technical teams would happily spend more time given the chance. Read on to find out more…
Firstly, what’s so important about technicians?
OK, this is a blatantly rhetorical question, but one that is useful to clarify, given that the technician’s role carries so many demands. Take communications and media courses for example, here students are exceptionally reliant on a plethora of audio-visual, film production, broadcast, photography and other media equipment. They need to understand how it all works and accomplish the skills to use it. This means they’re also heavily reliant on media technicians – the success of their studies depends on it. These key personnel are tasked with maintaining all of this kit in good order - setting it up and dismantling it when needed, operating it and troubleshooting any faults. Not least, they are usually responsible for showing students how it actually works and how to get professional results from it.
To put it frankly, modern educational institutions simply couldn’t function without technicians. That, we think, says a good deal about just how pivotally important they really are.
Where is most time currently spent?
At present, our customers reported that most technicians’ time is being spent preparing and issuing students and staff with equipment required for classes, assignments and research, while taking the opportunity to advise them on how best to use it. Portable equipment items sometimes fail to come back to the technician’s storeroom by the scheduled deadline, which leads to time also being spent on chasing overdue items.
Given the fallibility of human beings, some of that equipment is not just late but missing. Pursuing overdue items and hunting down missing equipment may be irritating, but they’re also an unavoidable part of a technician’s life. Happily, our customers report that the connect2 software used saves them up to almost a full day each week (and a certain amount of stress) by automating this otherwise laborious process.
But now back to the question of where technicians and their managers would prefer to spend more time. Please keep reading and all will be revealed…
Team wish list for managers
Technical managers told us they would like their teams to be able to place greater emphasis on managing product lifecycles. Given the pace of technological innovation and the inevitability of wear and tear, all equipment has a shelf life. But equipment doesn’t archive itself, or cart itself off to the technology knacker’s yard when it’s finally ground to a halt. It would make technicians’ lives easier if they had more time to devote to managing lifecycles, organizing equipment and generally tightening up on asset management. (Using Lorensbergs connect2 usage analytics rapidly exposes those items of equipment that are no longer needed to assist with this task. Using this data - amount of use per item by month or year - staff are much more confident knowing which items to safely retire.)
Next on the wish list was having the opportunity to improve maintenance and repair processing. Disabling and processing the maintenance of items and creating repair logs takes a lot of time. Often glitches in communication between colleagues and shifts takes its toll in this area and needs improvement.
Finally, many participants agreed that more analysis of resource usage would benefit the planning process considerably. The summer term and vacation period always requires more analysis in preparation for the next academic year, although there are significant differences between managers regarding the timing of when this analysis mainly takes place – see the findings in the diagram below. Fortunately, usage and inventory data in connect2 saves staff an average of 3 hours per week on this task when carrying it out on a regular basis.
Focus on technical managers’ time
The majority of our manager respondents nominated service development at the top of their own wish list. This makes sense given how technical services need not only adapt to changing demands but to anticipate changes approaching on the horizon. Service development may include rolling out more advanced classroom technologies, setting up and maintaining maker spaces, and ambitions to grow equipment portfolio lending range and reach.
Related to this was the desire for more time for team management and liaising with wider teams to improve services.
Helping students get better creative results
At the end of the day, technical teams want to get the most out of their equipment with the aim of providing the best services to students. And they want students to be competent in getting the best results from the equipment themselves. So it's not surprising that the need to find more time to train and coach them was also a frequent finding in our research.
However, institutions need to empower and support their technicians for spending more time in this direction. It's not only what they perceive as being very useful, it aligns with what students are demanding and where the greatest benefits are to be had for all.
Lorensbergs has developed state-of-the art equipment reservation software, connect2, which is now used in more than 100 higher education institutions. Connect2 enables students and staff to book equipment and venues reliably and swiftly, without glitches such as double-bookings and with far fewer incidents of missing equipment – users report achieving a reduction of up to 90% on numbers of late items. So with connect2, technicians can spend more time adding value where it counts.
For further information, please contact Danny Thomas:
Call 646 583 2215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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