Over the last few years, we’ve been talking more and more about Technology as Strategy. In fact, we believe so strongly in this that we’ve made including Technology as Strategy a requirement in the purchasing process for any of our new clients.
So what exactly is Technology as Strategy?
In the simplest terms, it means looking at the technology in your organization in the same way you would your staff and other organizational resources. When you put technology in the same category as people (human resources) and money (capital), you can see more clearly how all of these resources are intertwined – they all have power to differentiate the organization and steer its course.
Technology as Strategy doesn’t just look at your technology as an office supply to help your staff meet the needs of their jobs, but it asks you to think about what you could be achieving by using technology strategically to meet your mission goals.
Think about it like this:
Without Technology as Strategy – You need a new database because it isn’t meeting your organizational needs. It is clunky, cumbersome, and staff don’t like using it. You need more ability within the tool to create your own donation forms and make email templates.
With Technology as Strategy - You need a new database for all of the reasons
above, and with the ability to create your own donation forms and email templates
you are able to do two more online fundraising campaigns a year, which will help
your organization raise 2x more to fund X program. This program will service X
number of new clients.
Using the Technology as Strategy format, you are not only looking at the immediate needs of how technology will help your organization, but you are also seeing how it will impact the goals of the organization.
When you are looking to purchase a new tool, we cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your organization’s strategic goals, and thinking about what specific ways your technology is going to be used to achieve those goals.
Is your organization ready to use Technology as Strategy?
Using your technology hand in hand with your strategic plan is an important piece of increasing organizational efficiency, but it also takes a lot of work and time upfront. However, once you’ve invested that time, you’ll find that your return on that investment was well worth the effort.
How do you know if you are ready to take that step?
This isn’t a one-person project. All key decision makers in purchasing the software need to be involved from the beginning, along with those who are using it. This way, from the beginning, everyone understands the value of the tools and how they help your mission.
Have a Strategic Plan
Before you can figure out what kind of technology you need, you first need to know what you’re trying to achieve. What are your organizational goals? What kind of impact do you want to be seeing over the next 3-5 years?
Everyone involved needs to understand strategic goals and what they need to achieve those goals. Your strategic plan and the goals in achieving that plan should be a part of your day to day work. It should be a living document that is revisited frequently.
Many times, free or cheap tools aren’t enough to meet all of your needs for your technology. They may be clunky, difficult to use or missing certain functionality that would make your job easier or more efficient. Understand what specific tools and features you will need to do your job well. Look at how much you’re currently spending on tools, including staff time used to make those tools work (how many hours are being lost due to cumbersome tools?), to see what your true technology costs are right now.
There’s a lot more to Technology as Strategy, and we’ll dive into the different sections over the next couple of weeks. Up next we’ll look at the importance of maintaining good data documentation.
Also, to learn more you can download our free Technology as Strategy guidebook! It includes worksheets and questions to ask yourself to help get you started.