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| Written by Veronica Ferguson

Myth vs. Reality: System Administrators

If you use an event technology platform, then you need a System Administrator. But what exactly does the role entail? The System Administrator is responsible for a specific technology platform and meeting the needs of the organization through system support, troubleshooting, maintenance, and account upkeep. In some cases, that may also include user management and ensuring system users get trained. 

While those responsibilities may seem clear in theory, there’s often confusion in practice. Joann Fegley and Bridget Wagner of Intent Strategy Group, the consulting and enterprise services division of M&IW, clear the air in the latest edition of the Myth vs. Reality series.

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Myth: An event technology platform will run itself.

Reality: You wouldn’t buy a car and never do maintenance on it—a technology platform needs the same attention.

A System Administrator conducts overall maintenance, tests system updates, and proactively develops technical solutions for your ever evolving needs. Ideally, a System Admin is an empowered champion of the technology platform and tasked with the day-to-day running of the system. They stay on top of technology updates and make adjustments in their systems as needed. Some event technology platforms offer System Administration courses and certifications to provide the best level of system knowledge.

Myth: You need to hire a full-time System Administrator.

Reality: This all depends on the scope and current phase of the rollout of your event technology platform.

Early in the process, a System Administrator should be heavily leaned on to set up the account and processes. For smaller accounts, once the system and users are up and running, the time commitment tends to level off. System Admin tasks may only take up half, a third, or even a quarter of an employee’s time. Systems with extensive user bases or large event portfolios will need a higher level of time commitment to secure desired levels of governance and adoption. Global accounts may even opt to have multiple regional System Admins working collectively, each serving their own region. In this case, the key is for regional System Admins to have open communication with each other and follow the same processes and standards.

A System Admin can also be an external resource. Bringing in a third party allows a meetings and events team to expand their expertise and bandwidth without adding headcount. External System Admins already have the coveted hands-on experience. Their clients benefit from the collective knowledge of an entire System Admin team sharing information with each other. Solutions to challenges being faced by one client are often applicable to others. Ideally, an external System Admin will partner with the client to become a seamless extension of the internal meeting and events team.

Myth: A System Administrator needs to be a technical whiz kid or prodigy.

Reality: While it is important that they truly understand the technology, there is so much more to the job!

A System Administrator is a jack of all trades. They are good communicators, effective trainers, quality controllers, and capable of developing policies and procedures related to event planning. They are conceptual and can identify the best process or solution. They have a wide range of knowledge and know how to find the deeper answers. They are often methodical yet able to conceptualize the best options. When identifying your System Admin, be sure to keep these qualities in mind.

Myth: The System Administrator is the sole decision maker for your event technology platform.

Reality: Although they will have a thorough overall view of the system and procedures, they do not have to go at it alone.

We highly recommend an account governance team that can make informed decisions and evaluate and direct policies and practices to ensure the long-term health and well-being of their system. This team should meet on a regular cadence to set the strategy, process, and policy for the account based on the business needs. The System Admin is one part of this team and is key to the execution of the decisions. They can provide insight and feedback on how they see the system being utilized and the areas that could be used more efficiently.


Headshot of Joann Fegley

Joann Fegley

Meetings Management Consultant

Intent Strategy Group

Headshot of Bridget Wagner

Bridget Wagner

Principal Consultant

Intent Strategy Group

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