The following are some thoughts and questions you can use to learn more about the key influencers and decision makers in your community.
- Who are they?
Who makes the final decisions when it comes to IT? It could be one person, but since technology is so vast and complex, responsibility and influence are often widely distributed. More confusing for you is the fact that in some organizations no one has taken ownership of the IT turf. However, in this environment there are also opportunities.
- Your bosses’ boss
Your supervisor has a supervisor, who in turn has a supervisor. It’s easy to forget that key influencers have reporting and accountability requirements. Do your best to find out who they report to and how their performance is judged.
- Laws and regulations
Most key decision makers are circumscribed by a set of laws, regulations and policies. Some of these can be changed, others are set in stone. Get a sense of what’s in these statutes and policies, and obtain copies if you can. You don’t have to read them all, but you should have them on hand for reference purposes.
- Criteria and concerns
What other criteria do your IT decision makers use in approving or rejecting IT projects and IT purchases? Are those criteria written down anywhere? What are their fears and concerns? Are they operating under a tight budget? Have they been burned in the past by network security problems?
- Presentation and communication
Everyone has a different learning style, and everyone absorbs information differently. Therefore, one decision maker in your community will respond to charts and graphs, while another responds to stories about patrons, and another prefers statistics. What types of arguments and evidence do they respond to?
Are there any big technology initiatives already underway?
Where does the money come from? Which budgets can you use to cover technology costs? There may be funds in your community that you are not currently aware of.
- Technology planning
Has someone else already written a technology plan? If you like the plan, that’s great, there’s less for you to do. You can sign off on the existing plan or use it as a foundation for your own work. Even if you disagree with the direction of the existing plan, you have to take those decisions into account and understand why they were made.
- Tech teams
Is there already a technology team in place? If there’s a system-level, city-level or county-level tech committee, try to get a seat on the committee or at least sit in on the meetings. You may decide that your library needs a tech committee of its own. If this is the case, the two teams have to be aware of one another, and if your committee is the less powerful, the responsibility for contact and communication will probably fall on your shoulders.