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Technology Planning Primer for Nonprofits

Feb 07, 2017



Slide 1

Technology PlanningPrimer for NonprofitsCindy LeonardEmail: leonard@rmu.eduTwitter: @cindy_leonard


Plan for Todays SessionDiscussWhat is a technology plan?Why do technology planning?Getting startedComponents of a technology planOpen Q&A

2DiscussWhat is a technology plan?Why do technology planning?Getting startedComponents of a technology plan

What is a technology plan?

3What is a technology plan?

A type of strategic plan focused on technology - A communications tool

A document that aligns an agencys technology use with its strategic goals

Guidance for what technology will be implemented and how as well as how the technology will be supported over time

Why do technology planning?

4Technology has changed the ways we communicate, conduct business, and access resources.

Technology changes quicklyNonprofit environment changes quicklyNonprofits must be flexible & adaptableTechnology can support and aid in this endeavor

Implementation and usage of tech is another story:Frustration and stressBudgetary concernsLack of knowledgeImplementation without a guiding plan usually leads to a piecemeal approachIncreased stress on staffCosts more than expected

HANDOUT Key Reasons for Technology Planning

The Technology Planning Pyramid

Mission & goals drive the selection of tools & infrastructureTools & infrastructure support the mission & goals

(From Wired for Good by Jodi Podolsky, p. 4)

5The Technology Planning Pyramid (from Wired for Good by Jodi Podolsky, p. 4)

Top - Mission / Goals / StrategiesMiddle Applications / ToolsBottom Infrastructure

All 3 tiers are required to complete the tech planning process

Getting Started


6Building the Team

First instinct is to pull reps from each department/function within the organization.

This can be misleading:People skills are the most important consideration for this processTeam skills (communication, facilitation, decision-making)Project planning skills (developing timelines, developing budgets, performing evaluations)Process planning skills (information mapping, process management)

A good size team is 3 12 members and should include:People with decision-making and budgetary authorityIndividuals directly affected by the plan (program managers, administrative staff, volunteers, board members)Facilities and/or operations managersExperts in network architecture, installation, and support (external vendor in advisory capacity, tech-savvy volunteer, tech-savvy board member)

Roles within the planning team should be clarified:Team Sponsor (ED or a board member)Commits funds, resources, and staff time to the planning processActs as an internal/external advocate of the planningTeam Leader (ED or delegate someone with big picture view of the organization) Maintains controls on project staying within organizational priorities, time and bottom line constraints, project boundaries)Owns the vision, mission, and expectations of the teamMakes sure the plan is written in a clear, concise mannerChooses an appropriate decision-making style for the processKey Contributors (program managers, admin staff, tech staff or consultants, bookkeeper, etc.)Provide direct inputs (information and work processes)Helps establish vision and strategy to be included in the planConducts appropriate research and writes (or contributes to the writing of) pieces of the planAdministrator (admin assistant)Coordinates team activities and meetingsTakes notes and distributes to teamPerforms other admin tasks needed by the teamSupporters (stakeholders not on the planning team departmental staff, board members, volunteers, clients anyone affected by the organizations technology)Responds to requests for informationParticipates in surveys or group meetings as requestedEND

Getting StartedMeetings


7Conducting meetings

Two things become a danger in technology planning meetings:The Gee Whiz factor: excitement about new, cool technology that derails meetings and distracts team from purposeThe I Know the Best Solution factor: someone with specific technology or vendor knowledge who insists on that solution (this keeps the team from being open to all possibilities)

What will help:Create and stick to meeting agendasBring in an outside facilitator (even just at the beginning this can be helpful) new perspective, objectivityClarify roles & responsibilities from the start of the projectArticulate the decision-making process from the startDetermine how work on the plan will be accomplished between meetingsEND

Getting StartedMeetings


Task List

8Create a planning task list

Make a list of planning tasks that will need to be done in order to complete the planInformation needsResearch needsInventorying needsWriting the planReview and editing the plan

Use project management toolsAdd planning tasks and milestones as neededRealize that these will change as you proceedBuild in time for editing and review of the planEND

Getting StartedMeetings



Task List

9Create a timeline

Order the planning task list in the sequence that the tasks are to be performedProject management software will help greatly with this stepMake sure to add milestones for measuring progress

This tool will help everyone keep on track with the projectEND

Getting StartedMeetings




Task List


10Determine priorities

Review the planning tasks and timelineWhat tasks need to happen first, second, third?Are any certain tasks limited to a specific person(s)? When is that person available to work on this?What other work/priorities does that person(s) have which may conflict with tech planning tasks?

Getting StartedMeetings




Task List


11Communicate roles & responsibilities

Match people with planning tasksOwners > have responsibility for specific pieces of the planning processKey Contributors > Provide key inputs (info or work) that affect the results & success of the plan (these people are necessary for the owners to achieve success)Supporters > Provide input and opinions that add value but are not ultimately necessary to the planning process

Critical RolesEDArticulates the visionsGets support from the boardAdvocacy for projectAllocates staff resourcesSecures fundingParticipates in key decisions & meetings as needed

Board of directorsMay participate as planning team membersCan serve as mentors to staffAssist with hiring consultants or volunteersHelp locate resourcesEND

Business / Information Flow AnalysisComponents for Building a Written Technology PlanEquip-mentNetworkNetworkServicesSecurityOtherTechInfrastructure PlanningSoftwareInfo MgmtPlanningTech Support Plan& Technology PoliciesUser/SkillAnalysisTrainingPlanBudget Development & Implementation Plan/TimelineEvaluation ProcessWhat do we need?What do we have?What are our next steps?How will we support it?How will we fund &implement it?How will we evaluateits success?

12Components for a written technology plan

HANDOUT sample technology plans

Implementation: Whats Next?

13Implementation Whats next?

After the plan stage comes the do stageInstitute solutions and/or process changesMonitor milestones & success measures

You do not have to implement the entire plan at once!A phased approach is actually betterCan test the pieces with less cost and stress to staffAllows staff time to adjust to changes

Practice good project managementCreate projects from the plan (assign a project lead & team, define implementation tasks, establish timeframes, divide up duties, make a work plan)Give each vendor or consultant a single point-person (gives the vendor/cons. instructions or new tasks, have staff channel info and/or requests through point-person)Decide whether work should be done internally or externallyGeneral rule of thumb in IT projects:If its a basis of competitive advantage, develop in-house capacityIf not, outsource itCommunicate progress regularly to staff & managementCheck in regularly with vendors or consultants being utilizedIncorporate documentation & training in the project (dont become overly dependent on external sources)END

Managing Change & ResistanceRESISTANCE

14Managing Change & Addressing Resistance

For tech planning to be effective, you need to have buy-in from staff, leadership (this means the board too)

New tech > Change > Fear > ResistanceThis is normalAddress it dont ignore itResistance can actually help build a better plan by bringing or identifying issues that have been overlooked

Remembertechnology is a tool (not a project or a process)The word technology scares peopleDiscuss mission & business processes firstDecide on tools (including technology) for changing processes laterEND

What you mean by not done?Evaluation of the Technology Plan

15Evaluation of the Tech Plan

Just when you think a tech plan is finished, its already out-of-date!

Regular review & updating is necessaryLiving document even more so than a strategic plan due to the speedy nature of technological changeYou will constantly be adding or changing pieces as you go alongThis is normal too

Timeline & budget tend to be the first things to change (business strategy is generally the slowest to change)We cannot account for all variables, especially in the nonprofit worldTry to make adjustments to these sparingly so your people dont stop honoring deadlines, etc.

Rule of thumb: Revisit no more than once per quarter and no less than once per yearFollow your process for review and updating that was (or should have been) built into the planCommunicate changes when they occur (to staff, leadership, vendors, consultants, etc.)

A tech plan is not something that sits on a shelf its should be routinely pulled out, used, added to, deleted from, and re-evaluated!A Tech plan is a living document.END



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