TFNP Strategic Manifesto

Here is a first attempt at defining a set of strategic principals for technology within a non-profit organization. Several strategies are common among organizations that successfully implement technology.

Have a Technology Plan

Your organization should have a Technology Plan. This is a printed version of the ongoing conversation you should be having throughout the organization about technology. The plan should describe what is currently in place, what is disfunctional, and where new opportunities lie. You should consider a time horizon of three years. An effective plan is one of the single most important factors contributing to the success of obtaining technology grants. It is important to remember that technology is a means to an end. However, it is also important to identify new opportunities for improvement and leverage.

Document Everything

As part of the technology plan, you should have complete documentation of your existing systems. Part of this is just due diligence. The idiosyncrasies of your systems should not be held hostage by a single technical person who may keep the system in their head. The act of documenting the system is itself a learning experience.

Standardize Software and Hardware

Technology is complex. The fewer varieties of the same component that need to be maintained the better. You should have a single hardware vendor for desktop machines, a single suite of office software, a single manufacturer of printers, and so on.

You should consider having a single standard for memory and components for desktop machines. This can be updated once a year or so to include hardware improvements.

Standardize Procedures

By standardizing hardware and software, you have the basis for standardizing procedures within the office, so that you can begin to build an institutional memory. For example, if you have a documented single procedure for producing a mail-merge, then everyone can learn that procedure, and the staff can help each other out when they have problems mail-merging. You should also standardize storage folders for word-processing files, backup procedures, email standards, virus protection etc.

Practice Good Computer Hygiene

All users need to be in the habit of practicing good computer hygiene.You should establish procedures for preventing and dealing with computer viruses and email spam and provide documentation outlining policies for computer use that are consistent with your mission and expectations.

Ok…What else?

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