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Running a lean IT organization keeps CIO on budget, primed for growth

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Running a lean IT organization keeps CIO on budget, primed for growth

Troy Neal, director of information technology at YES Prep Public Schools, a charter school system in Houston, is the SearchCIO-Midmarket 2013 Midmarket IT Leader of the Year. Neal's leadership and success in rebuilding -- from nothing -- the school's unified communications systems following a devastating hurricane is impressive, yet only part of what made him this year's winner.

In this podcast interview with senior features writer Karen Goulart, Neal shares some of his insights on understanding technology issues in education and across other industries, fostering a lean IT organization, and understanding the needs of the business.

You certainly overcame a huge challenge rebuilding the unified communications system. Since then, everything must be a piece of cake. What's been your biggest IT challenge in the past six months, and how are you addressing it?

Troy Neal: Actually, our biggest challenge, especially in education over the [past] two years, has been budget cuts, especially in Texas. We've actually seen an 8.5% budget cut across the board in our organization in the last two years.

The positive side of YES Prep is we are already a lean organization, and the same for our IT as well. What we've done to address it these last couple of years is stay heavily focused on being centrally managed and then using tools that are forced multipliers, like Microsoft Lync/ Microsoft System Center-family line-of-configuration managers [and] service-risk managers, so that way we don't have technicians out on campus. We can stay lean and help meet the needs of our organization to fall within the budget.

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