For over 20 years I’ve been helping nonprofits improve the ways they use technology. Whenever I began a new consulting project - be it for a communications plan, a website audit or coaching - one of the first questions I always asked was “Do you have a tech plan?” That’s because no matter how an organization engages with technology, a good plan is the touchstone.
Here are five top benefits I have seen organizations reap from technology planning.
1. Effort Coordination
You wouldn’t send your staff out to help people without a plan, so why approach tech – 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 helps you avoid the rocks of uncertainty.
2. Saving Resources
Let’s be real, technology can be expensive and confusing. Quick fixes and short-sighted “band-aids” lead to spending much more than is necessary. The bottom line is that, without a plan, you are being inefficient in your use of resources.
3. Increased Effectiveness
By being thoughtful about how they use technology, I have seen organizations increase the number of people they serve by 20% with the same resources. Planning helps identify and reduce inefficiencies. When staff have the right tools for their job, they are more effective in everything they do.
4. Better Decisions
Every technology planning project I’ve been involved in has resulted in improved 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.
5. More Funding
A good plan connects your mission with your use of technology. For example, if a funder is interested in increasing the amount and quality of mental health services in your community, you can show how funding your technology project will help achieve that goal. It 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% of what they need to know to be effective in technology planning, because they know their organization’s culture, history, processes and environment.
I’m thrilled to be bringing my knowledge and experience about technology planning to not-for-profits in Australia through 4 Connecting Up! workshops in March 2012. The workshops will provide the know-how to create a technology plan and an example of a plan to follow. Join us and boost the results you get from your investments in technology. After all, who doesn’t want to be more effective, efficient and better stewards of resources?