Interoperability: Is it really an all or nothing concept?

My name is Terry Allen and I work for Morgan School District in a rural area in Utah. Being in a small district means that our administrators wear multiple hats.  For me, that means that I oversee the areas of Assessment, Title 1 and IT. Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to serve on a committee for CoSN about developing an Interoperability Maturity Model rubric. This has been an awesome experience to meet other IT leaders from across the country to discuss and share my perspective as an IT Director from a rural community regarding Interoperability.
I have to admit prior to participating on the committee, the term “interoperability” alone was overwhelming.  I couldn’t fathom the concept of being able to achieve interoperability within our own district. I believed we didn’t have the resources to pursue the concept.  My experience taught me that while interoperability was the end goal, there were absolutely things I can do to help our district move forward. More importantly, it does not have to happen overnight. I hope that by sharing some of my thoughts, others in similar situations can see that it is not an all or nothing concept.
In order to achieve interoperability, you have to break down the process into manageable chunks as not to overwhelm. As a committee we broke the process of obtaining Interoperability into the following five areas:
  • Leadership and Vision,
  • IT Governance,
  • Data Governance,
  • Information & System Integration and
  • Infrastructure.
 
Within each of those areas, there are five levels of achievement so that you can see that it is a process by which you can measure your growth over time. The five levels of achievement are:
  • Level 1 Initial,
  • Level 2 Emerging,
  • Level 3 Integrated,
  • Level 4 Optimizing and
  • Level 5 Transformative.
I learned that it’s all about working through a process of achieving interoperability – not making interoperability the end result.  In fact, my small district may be looking at a process of years, if we are even able to achieve Level 5 in all areas. It was a relief to have something in front of me that helped me to see that we were already on the road to inoperability by what we were already doing and the policies we had in place. In some areas, we even scored in the Integrated level!
In writing this blog, I wanted to share my insight on each of these areas and the levels of achievement possible within them.  You may see that your district is already on the road to achieving interoperability!