Integrate IT for Mission Success

Over the past several years, technology has begun to transform the nonprofit sector, and has tremendous opportunity to help deliver on their missions in effective and scalable ways.

However, the strategy and planning for technology has not always been integrated. Too often an organization’s map shows the operational functions on one side and IT on the other or not there at all.  When this is the case, the organization’s goals aren’t driving technology strategy, so they aren’t driving its tactics, either. The misalignment is costly with technology purchases happening when critical, and not necessarily budgeted for nor planned.

If it is not part of your organization’s goals for next year, consider this: a convergence between technology and the organization’s mission.  The value of technology solutions should be the value provided to the nonprofit, and should be determined by how well they support the organizational strategy.

Important questions

Organizational leaders who are concerned about controlling technology investment in a pro-active manner should start with considering the following points:

  1. Have you assessed (either internally or with an outside expert) the current state of your network’s infrastructure and staff workstations?
    • The assessment should examine how your staff members work and make sure the systems support them adequately.
      1. Field staff members might need laptops and the ability to remote send to premise servers or access files and applications in other ways.
      2. Security and compliance should be current.
      3. Line of business applications, such as a donor connection tool or a development tool, should be supported.
  1. Is there a planned replacement schedule for outdated equipment?
    • Waiting too long to replace equipment can create hidden costs in lost time while staff members struggle with poor equipment.  By correctly assessing the state of equipment and budgeting for replacement — rather than waiting until you’re forced to replace — can relieve stress.
  1. Is there a budget line item for technology and equipment?
    • Breakage and the need for repairs don’t give warnings.  Things like lightning induced power surges can be a budget breaker, taking multiple pieces of equipment out simultaneously.  Check your insurance to see if the event is covered, but make sure you have funds available to cover contingencies as in other areas of your operation.

Keys to success

The key to successful management of technology is to be mindful of it as a supporting player for the mission of the organization.  Technology should be an ally rather than a necessary evil.  Objectively assessing the technology needs of the organization is as critical, as creating the budget to fund those needs and can take some of the stress out of this area of your organization.

The board or executive team who regards technology as an “extra cost” in the current environment may find itself consistently behind the curve and have a staff that is struggling to execute with inadequate tools.

Going into 2017, especially when considering hardware or infrastructure investments, thinking convergence and support could make an enormous difference to how your organization functions.  Technology should be seamless; the tools your organization uses to accomplish the tactics and strategy ultimately lead to impacting the mission.

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