I showed the basic steps of:
- Listing your technology needs, projects and hopes in a spreadsheet
- Add columns for Effort, Priority and Cost
- Fill in columns with high, medium and low
- Then look for the combination of effort, priority and cost that you are able to accomplish
Well your technology plan really can be that simple when you are just beginning. When your needs are centered around your infrastructure it is easy to manage. When these projects start to cross over into enterprise software, websites, social media or communications, it can get much more complicated.
Creating a technology plan that requires process or cultural changes, is much more complex. These will take some deliberate steps to build support, prepare staff, enable champions, document your business, understand operational goals and so much more.
So why did I try to make technology planning look so simple?
Because if you don't start with your infrastructure, the other stuff is useless. If you have an awesome website with bandwidth too slow to upload images to it, optimal external communication tools but no good way to share information internally or you have the perfect enterprise software running on computers too slow to run it, then the best technology plan is just a waste.
So your technology plan ALWAYS needs to start with the basics. Get the trains running on time, keep the lights on, start with a foundation to build on or whatever metaphor you want to use.
Later I will look at how you should begin to add in concepts like organizational readiness, mission impact, return on investment, benefit analysis and all of the other ways to make your technology more meaningful. You have to find purposeful ways to shift your technology from a cost center to manage to a transformative method to meet your mission.
However, we have to find the balance in technology strategy. Here is a great reminder with a quote from Allen Gunn in a great article on the Nonprofit Quarterly:
Remember That Technology Is Not a Strategy
According to Allen Gunn, executive director of Aspiration, a San Francisco-based nonprofit technology consulting organization, many organizations make the error of treating technology as a replacement for strategy: “In the same way they’d order up pizza delivery, some nonprofits think they can order up a piping hot enterprise technology strategy. We tell organizations to take a step back and think about your business processes first. Look at things from a process-centric way and not a tech-centric way.”
Be sure to go read the full article, it is fantastic.