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I remember the day my boss set my first laptop on my desk. I had no idea I was getting a new computer. "Here you go," he said. "I thought you could use this." I was thrilled, yet I wished I could have participated in picking out the tool that was most central to my day-to-day work.
I should have listened to that adage, "Be careful what you wish for." Four years later, he came to me with a different offer. "I think it's time we replaced your laptop. How about if you go down to Computers-N-Stuff and pick out whatever you want?"
Not being a hardware geek, I was overwhelmed. I had an inkling that I shouldn't just choose the coolest looking one, but I had no idea what combination of memory and processing power I might need.
When choosing hardware, we often talk about the importance of standardizing. That's because a fleet of identical computers is easier and less expensive to support than a mishmash of different brands and models. But let's not forget the people who need to use those machines.
Different users have different needs and preferences, and a mismatch can negatively affect productivity as well as morale. How can you find the right balance between choice and standardization?
Ann Puckett, IT manager for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, recently completed a technology assessment using Idealware's tactical technology planning on-demand course as a guide. She found out from staff members that they wanted more choices and input about their computers and saw the opportunity for a quick win.
The foundation immediately implemented a computer cafeteria plan that gives staff several choices of computers. By doing so, the foundation hoped to increase staff satisfaction and productivity.
The foundation also created an action plan that includes milestones and estimated costs for improvements over the next two years. For example, it will implement technology that moves the organization closer to being a paperless office.
Ann estimates she invested about 40 hours over a period of 12 months. She prepared her technology plan, took the time to meet with each department, and worked with an internal and an external committee. "The most valuable part of the entire process was meeting with all staff and getting their input and feedback," Ann said. "I think they appreciated being listened to and then seeing some quick wins from the process."
This tactical plan has been very useful internally. Ann explained, "Overall, staff feel it's good to have a plan to follow and review over the next three years. We feel that we have some sort of direction to work with."
Ann Puckett will be joining us at our upcoming TechSoup webinar to talk about her tech planning experience on October 26.
Register now for tech planning tips
Would you be able to spot your biggest priorities or easy opportunities for technology improvements like Ann did? The technology planning process can be overwhelming, especially for those without any technical background.
That's why Idealware, in partnership with TechSoup, is offering a practical, step-by-step Tactical Technology Planning learning track through TechSoup's new online training program. The on-demand training includes videos, worksheets, and quizzes, and it covers all of the basics: IT infrastructure, data management technology, and communications technology. Check it out!
Image: Ann Puckett / used with permission
This blog post was written by Karen Graham, executive director at Idealware.
Idealware is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides thoroughly researched, impartial, and accessible resources about technology to help nonprofits make smart decisions.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.