Many libraries have part time or accidental techies taking care of their technology. Is it any wonder that proper technology planning is something we have a hard time getting to? The problem is that it takes some tech planning to come up with a budget for the New Year. Here’s some resources for doing quick tech planning so you’ll have some money to work with in 2014.
Proper Tech Planning
By proper tech planning I mean the things that TechSoup for Libraries Technology Planning Cookbook talks about:
- Pulling together a committee of stakeholders to serve on a planning committee
- Conducting a technology assessment and inventory of current software and hardware assets
- Doing a draft technology plan or roadmap that integrates with your organization’s larger strategic plans
- Conducting some total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis on projected new acquisitions
- Finalize the technology plan with benefits and outcomes metrics
- Based on your technology plan do technology budgeting for the coming year
This process takes months to do it well. But what if you don’t have a technology plan and have a just a couple weeks to come up with a technology budget?
Pressing Needs That Require Immediate Attention
You may well have pressing needs to budget for like upgrading from Windows XP and Office 2003 before April 2014 and getting newer IT equipment, for instance from TechSoup’s Refurbished Computer Initiative, that already has Windows 7 and Office 2010 installed.
Definitely, if you have the time, I recommend having a look at TechSoup for Library’s Six-Step Technology Planning Tool. If you don’t have much time, you might check out TechSoup donation partner, Mobile Beacon’s What's Involved in Technology Planning, which boils things down to three questions:
- What does your group plan to do with computers in the next few months?
- What can technology do for your organization now, six months from now, and a year from now?
- How do you currently use technology? Dig into all the details: does everyone have access to the information they need, when they need it? What type of device is most practical — computer, tablet, or smartphone?
How to Conduct a Quick Tech Plan
Mobile Beacon’s second post in this series How to Conduct a Technology Assessment is equally to-the-point. The really essential things to do are to:
- Create a Technology Asset Inventory to figure out what technology you already have
- Determine Your Organization’s Future Needs
- Estimate how much money you have to meet future needs especially in the immediate future
Mobile Beacon’s final post in the series, Preparing for Disaster talks about how to integrate your technology plan into a disaster preparation strategy. That’s certainly a seriously useful thing to do but additional to the budgeting process. TechSoup also offers a free eBook, The Resilient Organization: A Guide for Disaster Planning and Recovery when you need to take this additional step.
Here are some additional resources that include templates and examples of inventories, tech budget worksheets and other essentials:
- A really useful quick and easy, and also free tool to get started with is TechSoup Canada’s Tech Self-Assessment. The self-assessment poses basic questions about the important aspects of your IT like your data back-up capability, your tech support, how you manage critical data, the state of your website, and your tech budget. It’s definitely tech planning made simple.
- The Massachussetts Library System Tech Planning Resources page has lots of nice simple templates including Technology Plan Questions to Consider from USAC, and a Basic Technology Inventory Worksheet.
- Tips and Tools for Technology Planning is a Slideshare presentation from NTC 2012 by some NPTech heavyweights, Peter Campbell, Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Carlos Bergfeld, and Karl Robilard.
- I also like Ariel Gilbert Knight’s 5 Steps To Creating Your Org’s Tech Plan that appeared in the March 2012 issue of NTEN:Change online magazine. Look for it on page 49. Ariel has a very sensible recommendation on choosing new technology to invest in – get a second opinion from a tech savvy staff member, volunteer, or consultant to make sure you’re not going down an expensive and tortured road.
- DIY technology planning resources has good simple templates: Sample Technology Inventory, a Sample Budget for Technology Investments, and a Sample Technology Action Plan.
- SCORE is a very useful resource for workshops and free mentoring. I don’t know what the acronym, SCORE, stands for but it is a national nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground. Many aspects of libraries function much like small businesses. SCORE has over 11,000 volunteers and their work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) so their services are either free or very low cost.
- I like their piece: “Technology: Does Your Small Business Have a Tech Plan? It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3…”
- And I really like their free online workshop: “Tech Made Simple: Creating a Technology Plan for Your Small Business.” It’s a workshop you can take any time. They have on the workshop landing page two mentors with expertise in tech planning that you can email. SCORE’s workshops are compliments of their eBusinessNow Initiative.
- Do you have any additional quick tech planning resources that you like? Please log in to comment on this blog post.
Images: Mobile Beacon