The Technology Planning Process
Quick guides to technology planning
If you don’t have time to read a lot and you want to jump right into the process, look at these four documents:
- MaintainIT’s first cookbook (pages 6 through 10) has a great overview of tech planning from the viewpoint of a small library. However, these suggestions apply to mid-sized and large libraries as well.
- Some tech planning ideas for small libraries.
- A short list of tech planning suggestions from WebJunction.
- Some suggestions from Bob Bocher, written with e-rate requirements in mind.
Technology solutions brainstorming for your library
Several state library organizations have created technology standards for libraries. In other words, what sorts of skills, tools, infrastructure and procedures will you find in an ideal library? What do the backup procedures look like? What sort of Web presence is there? What computing services are available to the public (e.g. printing, hands-on assistance from staff, etc.)? How many public computers will you see there? If your library is small, it’ll be difficult to implement all of these suggestions in a single planning cycle, but this standards document from the South Carolina State Library and these five short checklists from the Illinois State Library will help you brainstorm and set goals for yourself.
In-depth information on tech planning
WebJunction has lots and lots and lots of information on tech planning. The most thorough roadmap to technology planning in libraries can be found in Diane Mayo’s book, Technology for Results: Developing Service-Based Plans. An excerpt from the book can be found at WebJunction. Because it’s so thorough, it’s also time-consuming, and may not be appropriate for smaller libraries.
Free tech planning software
TechAtlas has a series of questions and surveys to help you create a technology plan. After you’ve registered for an account and logged on, click on the Surveys tab. Once you’ve taken the assessments, TechAtlas will give you recommendations on how to improve your digital infrastructure. This guided approach is a great way to take the uncertainty and guesswork out of tech planning. The Illinois State Library has a similar online questionnaire. As with TechAtlas, you have to register and log on before you can use the assessment tool.
Key Decision Makers
- Becoming a key player in terms of local technology is no different from becoming a leader in terms of education, culture or economic development, as emphasized in a process outlined by Ellen Miller and Patricia Fisher at WebJunction.
- WebJunction also has a wonderful set of resources related to making the case for your library when you’re talking to key influencers. However, as you’re advocating for what you believe in, be sure to listen carefully as well (preferably before you start making your case). This list of questions can help you draw information from the decision makers in your community.
- Also for tips on improving your communication skills, check out the resources listed in our section, Talking with Library Stakeholders.
Strategic and Technology Plans
- If you’re new to strategic planning, take a look at this description of key concepts and terminology. The same site has an overview of key success factors and a quick review of the most popular strategic planning models.
- If you’re ready for more, check out New Pathways to Planning from the Northeast Kansas Library System. This tool emphasizes the importance of community evaluation and internal library audit.
- Also take a look at these needs assessment resources compiled by WebJunction and another list of strategic planning resources compiled by the Outagamie Waupaca Library System. Scroll to the bottom of the latter page for some real strategic plans from public libraries.
Building a Technology Team
- For an in-depth discussion of managing your tech team, check out this workbook from NPower. In particular, this article talks about some of the obstacles you might encounter in building your tech team. It also discusses the value of having a technology vision statement and a “Commitment to Success” letter, two documents that can help direct the work that your team is doing.
- This article from WebJunction gives you some advice about the mix of folks you’ll want for your technology team. You don’t have to fill every role listed in this article, but it’ll give you some ideas about the types of people you should look for.
- Finally, this success story from the Perry Carnegie Library in Perry, Oklahoma, demonstrates the value of having an engaged, active tech team.
The Costs and Benefits of Technology
The overall accounting and fiscal management process is way beyond the scope of this site, but here are a few resources related to good accounting (i.e., measuring the costs) to get you started:
- Since the money management cycle usually begins with the creation of a budget, we’ve pulled together some resources on budgeting in general and technology budgeting in particular in our Writing a Technology Budget tool.
- There’s no getting around the fact that accounting and budgeting and financial management are painful subjects to learn about. But if you’re in any sort of management position, you’ll have to know at least a few concepts. The SEC has a useful discussion of the basics, though this article is geared towards investors and businesspeople. The Accounting Game is a lively, book-length overview of the same subject.
- After you’ve mastered some of the universal principles, you might need some grounding in government accounting, which is significantly different from corporate accounting. You’ll find plenty of books and web sites devoted to this topic. The official organization for state and local government accounting standards is the GASB. This overview of accounting in schools might also have some useful information. Finally, the State Library of Michigan has posted an extensive guide to financial management in libraries, though due to some site design issues, a Google search is the best way to navigate the whole document.
Total Costs of Ownership (TCO)
Here are two possible learning scenarios to help you get up to speed on TCO.
|SCENARIO DESCRIPTION||WHERE TO GO|
||There are quick descriptions of TCO at TechSoup and LinuxPlanet that are really enough to get you started. The TCO in the Classroom site has another great introduction, though this one is a bit longer. Our TCO/TVO questionnaire will also help you understand this concept.|
There are several evaluation frameworks to help you figure out which measurements best suit your situation. Outcomes-based evaluation, return on investment, and cost-benefit analysis are three of the better-known methodologies. They all take some time to learn and implement, but it’s worth the extra effort if you’re working on a complex, expensive, high-profile project.
- IMLS provides a list of Evaluation Resources to help you better understand different ways of measuring your effectiveness.
- The outcomes-based evaluation (OBE) method is especially well suited to libraries, and more information can be found on the IMLS web site.
- The “How Libraries and Librarians Help Method (HLLH)” elaborates and expands on OBE. For an introduction to HLLH, see this excerpt on WebJunction. The full book can be purchased at ALA’s web site.