Whenever I began a new technology consulting project with a nonprofit, one of the first questions I ask is, "Do you have a tech plan?" That's because a good plan is the foundation of being strategic and successful with technology.
Here are five top benefits I have seen organizations reap from technology planning.
You wouldn't send your staff out to execute on your mission without a plan, so why approach technology — which practically everyone uses in their job — without a plan? Like a lighthouse in a storm, a good plan helps you steer your efforts and avoid the rocky shores of uncertainty.
Technology can be expensive and confusing. Quick fixes and shortsighted "band-aids" lead to spending much more than is necessary. Without a plan that helps to keep its efforts focused, your organization is being inefficient in its use of resources spent managing technology.
By being thoughtful about how they use technology, I have seen organizations increase the number of people they serve by 20 percent with the same resources. Planning helps identify and reduce inefficiencies. When staff members have the right tools for their jobs, they are more effective in everything they do.
Having a technology plan as a solid foundation leads to making more thoughtful, strategic decisions. Every nonprofit I have worked with on creating a technology plan has seen an improvement not only in technology use but in data management. It often takes the form of reducing the data "noise" that staff and management deal with, focusing on what data is really useful. This in turn improves their ability to make sound decisions based on data.
A good plan connects your mission with your use of technology. For example, let's say a funder is interested in increasing the availability of mental health services in your community; you can show how funding your technology project will help achieve that goal. A good plan also provides a basis for showing other funders what your technology costs are for projects they fund.
No matter what their age, experience, or comfort level with technology, people from organizations of all sizes and types reap these benefits. They are often surprised when I tell them that they already know 80 percent of what they need to know to be effective in technology planning, because they know their organization's culture, history, processes, and environment.
Completing a technology planning process boosts the results you get from your investments in technology. After all, who doesn't want to be a more effective, efficient, and better steward of resources?
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John Kenyon is a leading authority on nonprofit technology and communications. He is an educator and consultant who's worked exclusively with nonprofits for over 25 years providing advice, teaching seminars, and writing articles. John is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco and Sonoma State University. He has been a featured speaker across the United States, England, Australia, and online.
This blog post was originally published on John Kenyon's blog.
Very interestingly written. Worth thinking about.
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