Each of the 1.8 million nonprofits in America has one thing in common – whether they realize it or not – technology is essential to helping them operate better and more efficiently. That applies to fledging nonprofits that are run off a few laptops and cell phones to international organizations that require enterprise-level technology typically found in a Fortune 500 company to keep employees around the globe connected.
While savvy nonprofits realize that technology can help maintain real and lasting connections with donors, increase giving, simplify the delivery of services, and streamline workloads, few have taken the time to design a plan that addresses the technology they need now, considers how they will maintain and update it, and predicts how it will evolve.
Why is this essential? Because with more than 10 million nonprofits and non-governmental organizations across the globe, you need to set your organization apart if you plan to survive – and thrive. While your vision and team are the most critical components, technological tools can carry you forward or bog your team down in inefficiencies that hinder your mission.
A well-maintained, customized, and strategic technology setup isn’t something that just happens. It’s something that savvy leaders and technology experts collaborate to achieve. Here’s how they do it!
Where is Your IT Heading?
A technology roadmap – also called an IT roadmap – should be the literal centerpiece of your technology planning. Just like any other map, it’s a visual representation of where you are now and the direction where your organization wants to head in the future.
Elements that should be included on your IT roadmap include your core infrastructure, essential software programs, and any known upcoming technology projects. Your IT roadmap puts all of your technical information in one place so your IT experts can visualize where your organization is now, and plan for what you want it to look like. This visual representation allows your team to take a strategic approach to your technology.
Creating Your IT Roadmap
You’re probably wondering if creating an IT roadmap is as simple as listing all of your current technology. While that is an essential piece of its landscape, a beneficial, growth-oriented non-profit IT roadmap orients strategy at its center. Its tangible benefits come from taking a few steps back and looking at how technology intersects with your organization. It takes into account goals and aspirations that you want to implement in the future – such as new donor-driven software, hybrid events programs, the ability to accept cryptocurrency, flexible payment options, and any other initiatives that make sense for your organization.
Your IT experts can then use your IT roadmap to continually track and measure their progress against your overarching plan and to see whether the technological implementation of these goals is resulting in measurable success. Not only does this ensure that your technology is up-to-date and running smoothly, but it also keeps everyone in your organization on the same page. When implemented correctly, everyone from your internal IT department and external providers to your C-suite and volunteers should be kept informed of your technology plans and should understand what you are collectively working toward – and which roadblocks to be on the lookout for.
Tangible Benefits of an IT Roadmap
While there are many overarching goals of implementing an IT roadmap, there are several tangible benefits that appeal to nonprofits in particular. Here are just a few.
Every dollar is precious at most nonprofits because your primary goal is to spend your money on your mission. By documenting all of your technological systems, you allow everyone in your organization to see which resources are available now, and what is planned for the future. This gives employees and designed volunteers access to resources they might not have known existed and prevents them from allocating budget dollars for areas that soon may be rendered obsolete as technology shifts. They might not, for example, purchase that expensive desktop-based software program if they are aware that you plan to migrate to the cloud 6 months from now.
Likewise, when everyone can see what they have, they also can point out what’s not working. That allows your IT team to eliminate failing processes or systems and redirect those funds to other areas.
Another critical factor that many non-profits lack is time. Executives, staff, and volunteers are often tasked to do more in fewer hours. By understanding your current landscape, your IT team can maximize the efficiency of the tools you already have in place, remove outdated systems, and implement new tools that make life easier.
Focusing on strategy
It is much easier to implement a strategy when you understand where you are headed. Explicitly stating your organization’s technology objectives allows you and your IT team to identify new pieces that align with your overarching strategy and prioritize their implementation. It also allows them to weigh initiatives that will have the most impact, determine attainable short-term goals, and ensure that long-range objectives remain in focus.
Maintaining your systems
Let’s face it, nonprofit IT experts have a lot on their plates. From staff needs to donor requests, keeping up with the continual flow can seem overwhelming. Your IT roadmap gives your IT team an easy-to-read document that keeps them up to date on all the myriad systems they are managing. That’s essential since nonprofit technology tends to be pieced together over time. Because of that, maintaining the overall system requires an understanding of all the pieces and how to maintain them effectively. An IT roadmap provides this essential overview, keeping existing team members on top of their responsibilities while showing newcomers the landscape at a single glance.
The Road Ahead
An IT roadmap allows your organization to keep your technology moving forward in an evolving landscape. As an integrated IT solutions partner for nonprofits, CTD helps develop comprehensive IT roadmaps for our clients, establishing goals and implementing initiatives that maximize the effectiveness of their IT budgets. Because we partner solely with nonprofits, we understand the challenges you face and deliver the robust nonprofit IT support your team requires at significant budgetary savings. If you are ready to take your technology to the next level and start planning for your future, reach out to us today.