assessment

What's Involved in Technology Planning — Tech Planning for Your Mission

Welcome to the first of three blog posts in our technology planning series. We’ll discuss how to maximize your resources with a well-thought-out plan, how to conduct a technology assessment, and technology planning for disaster preparedness.

What’s Involved in Technology Planning?

Strategic Planning on a Shoestring: Making Less = More (and Sharing It!)

Coming out of several years of budget cuts, the Cherokee County Public Library's determination to revamp and revitalize its resources, services, and programs provided the impetus for the development of a new strategic plan.  With no money for outside consultation, we began a process that would allow us to do what we do best:  find the best information relative to our organization, and utilize the strengths of our staff and stakeholders to form a plan that would benefit the community as a whole.

Edge Benchmarks: Community Assessment and Partnerships

I just read Tom Sloan's highly informative Public Libraries magazine piece on the Naperville Public Library (NPL) titled, "What Makes an Award-Winning Public Library Successful." This article is jam-packed with practical tips on how to manage people, data, and create a culture that is nimble and open to change. What's more, the tips Sloan outlines are directly related to the Edge Benchmarks. Read on to find out how, and while you're at it, please take a few minutes to tell us your thoughts about the Edge Beta Benchmarks. We rely on your thoughts and expertise!

Why use benchmarks?

As TechSoup and the other agencies working on the public access technology benchmark initiative get feedback and refine the benchmarks, the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) is doing a lot of work to document the process.

Benchmarks, from PLA's perspective

Earlier this year, the Public Library Association joined 12 other organizations to develop public access technology benchmarks. The group is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Urban Libraries Council is serving as the facilitating organization. Members of the group have been working very hard examining the history and roles of benchmarking and thinking about what sort of common, measurable services libraries offer. The purpose of the benchmarks is to develop a tool that libraries can use to quantify their public access services and to give libraries a common language in talking about these services to local decision makers.

Benchmarks could be the trick to getting the support we need

I have to be honest, when I first heard about the Benchmark project I was a little circumspect. In my experience, most people don’t even know what the definition of a “benchmark” really is and it is often misconstrued as a goal or an objective. While benchmarks do work with goals and objectives, and even, *said in a whisper* strategic plans, they are by definition different. A benchmark is an industry standard or point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed. For example, a company wishing to improve would look to another company that is setting the industry standard in terms of development, quality, or service, and use that company’s success as a benchmark for setting their own goals.

You can learn a lot from a chicken

When new projects first start, often teams feel a little unsure or unclear about what they're being asked to accomplish, conjuring up Gertrude Stein's, "there's no there, there," or maybe leaning more toward Bill Clinton's "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." At any rate, let's just say in the parlance of our time that you may have been a little fuzzy, like Gertrude and Bill once were.

Because assessing your work is not easy

Typically, the process of organizing a webinar at TechSoup is de riguer: webinars are a large part of the services we offer, and we have a good network of experts and collaborators on whom we call to create a comprehensive and useful program. To determine what topic to cover, we listen to what libraries and nonprofits need, and this time was no different: through our work with BTOP grantees we've learned that organizations involved in broadband efforts need help crafting and implementing assessment plans. Armed with this information, we decided to put together a webinar on assessing technology projects, including training and projects related to BTOP efforts.

BTOP Projects at Work: Assessing the Effectiveness of Programs

Grant funding can provide essential supports to libraries and non-profits in the face of frozen or shrinking budgets. But without proper metrics, it can be difficult to determine the usefulness and efficacy of funded resources. A non-profit agency in Washington and a library in Maine are two examples of organizations that have developed ways to assess the materials and programming provided by NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant funding.