Technology Planning for Nonprofits
Welcome to part two of our technology planning series. Now that you have defined how technology can help you achieve your goals, and you know what a technology plan is and why it’s important, let’s talk about a central part of your plan.
How to Conduct a Technology Assessment
Before you can create a technology plan, you need to know where you stand. A technology assessment will help you pinpoint what resources you already have, and what you need to achieve your organization’s goals.
Step 1: Create a Technology Asset Inventory
The basis of a technology assessment is an inventory of your current assets. While this can be a time-consuming effort, creating and maintaining an asset inventory can save you countless work hours later, help you proactively address equipment issues (before something breaks and disrupts your day), and enable you to effectively plan ahead to meet future goals.
Remember that technology assets are not limited to computers, workstations or servers. Everything that can be networked is considered a technology asset, such as access points, printers, projectors, monitors, switches, routers, modems, digital cameras, smartphones, and more.
Next you’ll want to gather key information about each asset. Be careful, it’s easy to go from the essential data to (non-useful) information overload. Unless you have some type of third party device to help you, stick with the essentials. For example:
- Asset Number
- Device Name
- Operating System/Firmware
- Device Number
- Serial Number
- Comment Section
Step 2: Determine Future Needs
Now that you’ve inventoried what you have, it’s time to think about what you need moving forward.
It’s important to make sure “what you need” maps back to specific organizational goals and objectives. We suggest making two lists: one for short-term goals (less than 12 months) and one for long-term goals (1-5 years). Prioritize the lists according to what gives you the best return on investment and helps you accomplish your mission. Perhaps you want to focus on two or three small but significant projects to start with – ensuring remote email access for everyone, or creating a database to track donors and members.
Step 3: Financial Considerations
Make sure you include an ongoing budget for maintenance and safeguarding your system. You may be able to get away with delaying some of those costs for a short time, but without diligent upgrades and maintenance, you increase the risk of computer meltdowns and system failures that can endanger your data and disrupt your daily operations.
Now that you know your needs and your budget, can you identify other resources to help fund your needs, such as grants and in-kind donations?
Making these assessments and answering all these questions will give you the structure you need to develop your technology plan. Then you just need someone to write it!