Monday, July 15, 2013

A 6 Year Technology Roadmap. Are you crazy?

As I approach 9 months at my new job, I am getting closer to completing a 6 year Tech Roadmap.

I have told a few of my IT colleagues and many of them say the same thing: Are you crazy? How can you plan 6 years into the future. Tech changes way to fast. Or I get the question about how do I have time to do that? Well. I make time, go back and see my post about urgency versus priority.

What is a Tech Roadmap? I don't even know if it is a real term. But here is what I mean. It is a summary of the overall direction and identifies what we will focus on.

I am not planning every IT project and every step for the next 6 years. I am just setting a direction for our course. If you only do planning once a year, you will end up making progress. But if you put together enough straight lines with small turns, you can still end up going in circles.

Things will change. I don't expect everything in my Tech Roadmap to go perfectly according to plan. Staff will leave, budgets will change, priorities will shift, etc., but you still need to know your long term direction.

Think of it like your career:

  • You go to school, to get the right degree in anticipation of getting the "right" job. You talk to counselors and get expert advice. 
  • You read up on the job market. So you make plans and set a direction. 
  • You have a life plan! 
  • Then college life happens as you try to live out this plan. You start to have life experiences, things happen. 
  • But hey, you stick with that degree, cause it's still what you want.  
  • Then you get the first job, which is where plans usually change. 
  • Suddenly it isn't what you expected or you stop planning because you are too busy working
This is where I hope our Roadmap helps. The Roadmap will provide long term direction, while allowing for a typical annual Strategic Technology Plan. How do you know if your one year plan is the right one without seeing how it fits over the next few years? How do you know your large projects are in the right order? How do make the big decisions in technology?

Some examples of what is in my Tech Roadmap. 
  • Move from a heavy internal network to hosted solutions where appropriate
  • Move from data repositories to workflow management tools
  • Move from scattered internal communication to centralized, easy to access intranet
  • Move from a stable-secure network to a tested, documented, monitored network
  • Move from limited tech policies to governance in data, process and tech planning
The tech team brainstormed these types of directions for all of the different areas of Tech we will focus on. Then we thought through some of the initial projects for the first 2-3 years. We also examined where we need to shift culture, influence staff, build competencies, etc.

Then we shared this with our CFO as an early draft, not a completed, format, finalized document. It was meant to spur conversation, which it did amazingly well. We had deep conversation and thought through impact. 

Why 6 years? Well it started as a 5 year plan, but one of our amazing Technology Advisory Board Members suggest we match our Roadmap to our Tech Replacement Cycle which is planned at 6 years for some of our network equipment.

Anyway, if you ever want to debate the value of my 6 year roadmap, I am open to it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

#14NTC is not a social media conference, bring back the TECH!

Let 2014 be the year Technology returns to the Nonprofit Technology Conference.

Social Media, Marketing, Fundraising and Communications are all important. But they get plenty of attention. 

For years I have done my best to stay out of the "vote for my session cuz it is the best and I am popular" tweets, posts and general campaigning for sessions. My sessions tended to make the cut because people found them valuable and voted on them without me hyping it up.

But this year is different. Here is some of the feedback that is listed on the NTEN website about what people are looking for:

More than 70% of 13NTC attendees surveyed identified as either managers or directors at nonprofits. More than 60% of that number also identified as intermediate or journey-level learners. When asked what kinds of content they're specifically looking for: 
  • 53% indicated they'd like to see an emphasis on technical how-tos
  • 50% indicated they'd like to see an emphasis on programmatic uses of technology
  • 40% indicated they'd like to see an emphasis on management strategy
So here I am campaigning for sessions. Here are the ones I would recommend you take a few minutes to vote for. And if possible take time to go through the IT Track.

  1. Requests for Proposals: Making RFPs work for Nonprofits and Vendors
  2. An Introductory Session on CMS, CRM, and other Three Letter Acronyms
  3. Tech Planning Smack Down! Tactical Vs. Strategic Vs. Missional
  4. Data Governance - 10 Steps to Building Yours
  5. Tech Tools for NPTechies
  6. It's not the software, it's you. Process Mapping.
  7. Cloud Migration and Integration Workshop
  8. From talking about data to actually tracking your data: The right technology for Data-Informed Nonprofits
  9. Playing it Safe: Keep your network secure with the 20 Security Controls
  10. Manage Any Project Better
Please take a few minutes and vote for my Top Ten! Or suggest your tech session in the comments and I will check it out!

YMCA of Metro Chicago Facebook Resources and Case Study

This is a post I created back when I was at the YMCA of Metro Chicago, but thought I would re-share it here.

How do you get 50 authors prepared to manage 15 Facebook pages in less than 2 months with a team of 4 people? The YMCA of Metro Chicago faced just this challenge in the summer of 2010. There was a desire to get a presence established on Facebook in order to connect with our communities in new ways and do it quickly!

Our bigger challenge was managing the pages once they were launched. This case study will walk through the process we followed to get the pages launched and equipped the authors to manage them.

Below is a short summary or for a more visual representation view our YMCA of Metro Chicago Facebook Case Study Presentation.

Our Challenge Our members and communities connect with their individual center and want information from them. But there are numerous obstacles in allowing our membership centers to take primary responsibility for their own pages:
  • Membership center staff already fill numerous roles and have limited time to dedicate to new projects
  • Experience with social media and online communities is limited in depth beyond personal experience
  • Staff already struggle to get content created for our websites, newsletters and email communications
  • Limited full-time staff at some centers and limited resources to pay part-time staff
Our Metro office had challenges of its own to overcome:
  • Limited capacity to manage page for all centers, need to equip authors to create sustainability
  • Brand management and YMCA information needed to be monitored and consistent across our channels
  • How can we provide enough support to make sure the center pages are successful and what do we do if they aren’t
  • Manage risk, possible negative interactions and uphold character values
Our Strategy The key to our success was the readiness of the authors, not the mechanics of the page. So with seven weeks to work with we decided the key was to establish staggered deadlines for the authors to meet and a focused one day boot camp.
Due with application Due at Kickoff Due before Boot Camp Due before launch
  • Create Flickr acct
  • Completed Application
  • Create Facebook profile
  • Attend kickoff
  • Communication samples
  • 15 photos
  • Review Facebook privacy
  • Write 2 status updates
  • Marketing calendar
  • Fill in Facebook page
  • October Mktg. calendar
  • Document comment reply process
  • Sign Author Ack.
While the authors were busy preparing their materials; Marketing and IT collaborated to get the Facebook pages configured and designed for all of the centers. Our approach was to get all of the pages setup identically to a point where they were ready to launch without involvement of the centers. We created guidelines of what could be edited and what should be left standard.

We wanted our centers to focus on the content, not the structure of the page. However we did give them the long term freedom to make changes once they were ready to support it themselves. This structured approach allowed us to gauge the readiness and commitment of each member center even before launch. It also helped set expectations for our Boot Camp.

Our Materials Once the authors were trained and the pages launched; the centers have primary responsibility for managing the page with limited support from Marketing and IT. So we needed to be very purposeful in providing them with the appropriate resources. We provided them with:
  • Social Media Author Acknowledgement – In addition to getting their commitment to represent the YMCA appropriately, we provided clear expectations of the role
  • Comment Escalation Resources – we shared the Air Force Blog Response Chart along with a Comment Escalation Flow Chart to clearly identify steps in replying
  • Content Tips –Strategies for quality content and how to represent the brand
  • Page Administration Guidelines – Parts of the pages that can be edited and disallowed Facebook Applications
  • Marketing Calendar Template – Table structure to assist in thinking about how to post content across all communications and marketing
  • Links to articles on privacy – Shared links on updating your personal Facebook profile privacy settings
Most of these resources are included in the Facebook Manual below:

Our Outcomes Aug 23, 2010 we launched our pages, before the end of the day we had our 25 fans to secure our vanity URLS and our authors were posting welcome messages. Over the next couple weeks our centers worked to promote the page to all of their staff to build up some initial fans. We placed the “find us on Facebook” button on all of our website homepages.

By the end of August 2010, we had over 1100 fans across the pages, 116 wall posts by authors, almost 1500 unique page views and some great early engagement. In October 2010 we began our mass promotion of the pages to our members through emails, newsletters, program brochures and more. As of Nov 2, 2010 we were up to 2,285 fans across 15 pages, with 2,618 unique views and 396 comments\likes on our content for October 2010.

Our authors have done a fantastic job moderating comments and posting content!