Catlin Gabel is trying something new this year: localizing Blackbaud expertise within the departments that use it the most. One new hire and one internal transfer significantly increased our institutional knowledge of Blackbaud in the development and registrar offices.
Most schools debate the best way to support the administrative database needs of the school. At my previous school, our database administrator worked in the tech department. She wrote custom reports for users with specific needs, managed user accounts and database privileges, and performed annual database tasks such as promoting students during the summer and calculating GPAs. She also championed data entry standards across departments. She is a back-end expert. The best source of information for data entry questions remained Blackbaud itself.
Catlin is taking the opposite approach, cultivating local experts within each department. They have (or will build) knowledge of both user interface issues and back-end technologies such as queries and reports. Big unanswered questions remain. Will these local experts be able to solve most of their own issues in the future? Will they be as friendly to cross-department data entry standards without a tech department expert to champion standards? Will two advanced users have the time to assist the other Blackbaud users in the department? Will generalists in the tech department (such as me) build enough additional knowledge to maintain the server-side technologies and solve the most difficult technical issues? We shall see.