HCA 610 Week 6 Discussion Question Two
The key to planning technology is the investment in a strategic plan that encompasses not only where an organization is headed, but also defines the organization’s current position. The plan, in essence, outlines the pathway between the two. Making it successful depends on how the market is defined, and whether or not the right questions are being asked. To determine the long-term cost of operation and potential revenue generation for each piece of equipment, what factors need to be considered?
Technology planning is a process that takes time and resources in order to understand what is appropriate for staff and the organization. Program directors and their management staff may use this resource to further their understanding of what is involved in technology planning.
Establish leadership and support
Assess your resources
Define your needs
Write the plan
Implement the plan
Effective technology planning is an involved process. It takes a commitment of time and resources from senior managers and other staff. In order to make good decisions, an organization also needs to understand key aspects of technology.
But through technology planning, organizations can make significant gains. Sound technology management leads to greater
productivity, increased staff morale, and improved service to clients through having machines that work, networks that give access to information, and applications that are appropriate for an organization’s mission.
Information can transform organizations by giving them the tools to understand the environment they’re working in, to measure the effectiveness of their actions, and to counter opposing information from other groups and policy makers. Technology is uniquely positioned to harness the power of information.
Technology planning is a process. TechSoup has broken it down into seven phases.
- Establish leadership and support.
- Assess your resources.
- Define your needs.
- Explore solutions.
- Write the plan.
- Get funding.
- Implement the plan.
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- Establish leadership and support. Setting up a technology team and ensuring management and staff buy-in will allow you to get started with the whole organization behind you.A tech plan isn’t written in a day. The process behind the writing is the most important part, and the process is all about how staff work together to find the best solutions.
- Technology Team. It is crucial that the technology plan be a product of the whole organization, not just one staff person’s brainchild. Nonprofit technology experts all recommend that you set up a technology team to lead your technology planning process, if you do not have a team already. A technology team should be made up of a wide range of staff members. It is very important to have your executive director or another person in management involved. Your team might be composed of a board member, the executive director, a project manager, an administrative assistant, an accountant and a development director, as well as your system administrator, if you have one. Set up a regular meeting schedule to review progress on the plan. Make sure to distribute responsibilities and set clear expectations so that each person is involved in the process.
- Lead Person. It is crucial to have one person who is designated to lead the technology team and coordinate the whole process. That person need not be someone who is already in a management position, but should be someone with leadership capabilities and relative comfort with technology.
- Management Support. It is next to impossible to do a technology plan and carry it out without active support from management. Management is key to financial support and funding for the plan. It also makes a huge difference if you can convince your management to stand up and talk to staff about the plan. One strategy for convincing management is to describe the current costs of not doing a plan. Let them know how many hours of staff time are wasted, and how much money is lost trying to make the current system work. If your organization requires a major technology overhaul, management will appreciate a plan which is broken into implementation phases, so that they are not faced with funding the entire initiative in one budget year. For a set of general talking points, see the TechSoup article Why a Technology Plan? Even if management is reluctant, they should be consulted and informed at every major step.
- Assess your resources. The first step in planning is to assess your existing technology. What do you have in place? How well is it working?The first step in developing a plan is to assess where you are. Sound philosophical? The key is to spend some time asking yourself what is working, and what needs improvement. What technology do you have in place in your organization? What technology skills does your staff have? Who does your organization rely on for technology support?One part of assessment is taking a basic inventory of the computers and software in your organization. A hardware inventory worksheet can give you a sense of the overall capacity and range of workstations in your organization. A software inventory worksheet can give you an overview of the software resources and how they are distributed on different computers.
By taking this step, you can help avoid buying redundant technologies or incompatible technologies, and you can help assess whether any of your current technology is obsolete.
In the hardware inventory worksheet, you will want to write down the following items for each computer:
- Serial Number
- Monitor type
- Processor type and speed
- Hard disk capacity
- Available hard disk space
- Operating system
- Modem or network card (if any)
- Ports available (USB, FireWire, SCSI, etc.)
- Floppy, CD, or DVD drive (Be specific: indicate the type of floppy drive or whether you have a CD, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, or DVD-RAM drive)
- Any additional equipment attached to the computer
- Other equipment such as network printers, switches, firewalls, modems, etc.
In the software inventory worksheet, you will want to mark down major software packages that you use, along with their version numbers.
There’s more to an assessment than listing your hardware and software. For example, you need to document your network set-up, access policies, and protocols; document your services, including centralized databases, email, and groupware; and document your management practices, from staffing to written policies.
The most important part of assessment is to ask yourself some questions about how well your systems are currently working. The worksheet below will give you an idea of the issues to look at in different areas of technology assessment.
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