A technology assessment provides you with a snapshot of the computing environment in your library. It also gives you a high-level perspective on your staff skills, budget, vendor relationships, procedures and policies. A technology inventory, on the other hand, is a more specific, low-level description of what you own and where it’s located. Your inventory might include details about when and where the technology was purchased, who provides tech support, warranty information and the number of licenses you own. The assessment and the inventory are often done at the same time and often included in the same report.
Under ideal circumstances, a tech inventory is the beginning of an ongoing process known as IT Asset Management, so read that article for a discussion of tools that help you track your hardware and your software licenses. The rest of this article relates mainly to the technology assessment. Also, be sure to review our Technology Assessment Checklist tool to learn more about what’s included in a tech assessment.
Why Do a Technology Assessment and Technology Inventory?
- An assessment lets you avoid duplicated effort. Perhaps someone in your IT department has been researching and testing patron management software. Maybe someone in the library wrote a computer use policy last year and then forgot to tell you about it.
- A good assessment lets you know if any critical procedures or policies are missing. For instance, what steps will you take if you find out that one of your servers has been hacked? Do you have a regular backup routine in place? Do you have a disaster recovery plan?
- A good assessment lets you know where to spend your technology training dollars. Are staff lacking in email skills? Word processing skills? Do they want to know more about Web 2.0 and cutting-edge technology? Also, what sorts of hard IT skills do you have on staff?
- A good assessment relies on a good inventory. For an in-depth discussion of technology inventories, read IT Asset Management. If you want to create an inventory using TechAtlas, these instructions at WebJunction can help you get started.
- Answer the assessment surveys in TechAtlas. Sign up for an account on TechAtlas and click on the Survey tab. These questionnaires will help you better understand where you are in terms of technology. In addition to this, TechAtlas will provide you with custom recommendations and resources based on your answers. These recommendations can provide the basis of your technology plan.
Stories from the Field
Oh, one thing I’ve really been using lately is TechAtlas. And oh my gosh, that is just an awesome tool. I did an inventory of all my computers last year, and of course, I didn’t know about TechAtlas, I wish I had. But I’ve been using it already to work on my 2008 budget and on some surveys for the employees. It helps me understand what they know about computers and how much they can help the patrons. And it’s just — I love it. It’s an awesome tool. I thought it was going to be difficult, but then when I got into it, I was like, oh my God, this is great. And my budget, it’s so easy. TechAtlas lets you enter your line items and just everything that you do on a budget. Oh, and the technology plan, I’ve started entering information on that, too, to prepare a technology plan.Mindy Farley
Barton Public Library