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Blogger’s Digest: February 2015

(Everything Else) Permanent link

lion in snow

Frozen

Much like area school systems on countless days this winter, we’re coming to you a bit delayed with our February Blogger’s Digest. So, we bid you an icy welcome to March! Sigh. If you find yourself craving an eternal thaw, here are a few thoughts from our crew during the past month to help you warm up until spring arrives.

Programming note: we’re temporarily retiring our IT Maturity Model Self-Assessment from our website while we contemplate a move to warmer climes. Actually, we’re just upgrading it to give you more insight and to serve you better. In the meantime, if you’re interested in a quick, easy, and free ITMM self-assessment, please contact us today. We think you will be intrigued by what you can learn with just a few simple questions, and once your initial curiosity is satisfied, you might even decide you want more depth and sign on for a complete ITMM assessment by our fabulous team!


Blogger’s Digest: February


Upcoming Events

 

Flickr photo by Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo

DelCor earns MSP Pioneer 250 award for second consecutive year

(Our Company) Permanent link

Association/nonprofit-focused IT consulting firm recognized for industry-leading managed services

MSP 500 LogoFor the second consecutive year, DelCor Technology Solutions has earned recognition on The Channel Company’s CRN Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list as one of the MSP Pioneer 250. This annual list distinguishes the top technology providers and consultants in North America whose leading approach to managed services enables their customers to connect with progress by improving operational efficiencies, eliciting greater value from their IT investments, and leveraging technology to achieve greater competitive advantage.

In today’s world of outsourced IT, the expertise of MSPs like DelCor has become increasingly important to organizations. The plethora of choices in technology can be overwhelming. To facilitate organizations’ selection and adoption of managed services and providers, CRN, the leading media outlet for technology vendors and solution providers, has identified the top 500 MSPs.

This year, CRN’s industry‐focused directory highlights the Top 500 MSPs in three categories, including the Pioneer 250, to which DelCor was named for its success in delivering managed services to small and midsize businesses, namely associations and nonprofits.

“Client satisfaction and referrals are the best gauges of our ability to deliver elite managed services, but this recognition underscores the decades of investment we have made in our staff, operations, and services to the association/nonprofit community,” said Brian Sheehan, DelCor’s Vice President.

Founded in 1984, DelCor has been providing managed IT services since 1990, dedicated Partner support since 2000, and private cloud hosting since 2008. A foundation for all of DelCor’s consulting and network services is its IT Maturity Model, which helps organizations align technology infrastructure and implementation with business goals, so technology complements and support strategy – helping to advance each organization’s mission.

“Technology is an important tool for associations and nonprofits to help them achieve their business objectives, strategic goals, mission, and vision. Our role is to help those organizations select, implement, and support technology wisely – to provide a pathway for success,” continued Sheehan. “Our IT Maturity Model and in-depth IT Maturity Assessments provide a framework for helping organizations align their purchases and processes with strategy.” 

He continued, “Many of today’s technology solutions are just a click away; it’s more important than ever to ensure strategic alignment and efficient IT management.”

“The allure of Everything-as-a-Service to organizations is rooted in the appeal of predictable operational expenses, cost-cutting, resource allocation, and access to on-demand/pay-as-you-go technology. Therein lies a great need for the expertise of managed service providers,” said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company. “We congratulate the managed service providers who have engineered their businesses to deliver the services their customers rely on for future growth and ongoing success.”

For more information about the MSP500, visit www.CRN.com.

About DelCor

DelCor Technology Solutions, Inc., is an independent technology consulting firm headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, with seven areas of service designed especially for associations and nonprofits. Since its founding in 1984, DelCor has helped hundreds of organizations nationwide achieve progress through technology, with a focus on IT Maturity.

About The Channel Company 

The Channel Company, with established brands including CRN, XChange Events, IPED and SharedVue, is the sales channel community’s trusted authority for growth and innovation. For more than three decades, we have leveraged our proven and leading-edge platforms to deliver prescriptive sales and marketing solutions for the technology sales channel. The Channel Company provides Communication, Recruitment, Engagement, Enablement, Demand Generation and Intelligence services to drive technology partnerships. Learn more at www.thechannelcompany.com.

Contact

Bill Walker, Marketing Manager
DelCor Technology Solutions
301.585.4222 ext 144
bwalker @ delcor.com

 

Images: your cure for data indigestion

(Tech Tips, Innovative Ideas, Dear Del) Permanent link

A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

It’s cliché but it’s true. Data visualization is all the rage. People find it helpful to see a visual depiction of information then drill into the details to learn more about the story.

How many reports are sitting on your shelf in a pretty binder (hard copy or electronic)? How often to you refer to them? Did you act on the recommendations of the assessments?

blah blah blah

While I am sure our clients hang on every word we write, a picture helps summarize information and draw attention to important points.

The DelCor IT Maturity Model is a tool that we use on a regular basis when we are preforming technology assessments. 

The model provides the association with a snapshot of how their organization is performing compared to others in association community and helps focus attention on the areas that are most at risk. The model provides a quick view of 4 major areas:

  1. Network/Infrastructure
  2. Data
  3. Online/Digital
  4. Management

Each area is assessed for its maturity

  1. Restrictive
  2. Functional
  3. Effective
  4. Innovative

DelCor IT Maturity Model graphic chart

While this summary is useful to the executive team, it also helps other staff members understand the overall maturity and function of each area of the association IT infrastructure.

Of course it’s difficult to take action on a high-level summary. We layer details related to key functional areas to paint a fuller picture with relevant examples and references that help the association understand how our research and recommendations relate to a specific process or function. For example, while findability is key to a successful website, readability is critical to a report.

If an association is collecting a lot of data but the quality is poor or incomplete, it’s a waste. Volume does not equal quality.

When I am developing a report for a client, I try to break up information so it’s easy to read. In addition, I have to consider the audiences who may read the report and attempt to provide several examples and options for those diverse audiences.

In many cases, we are helping associations develop concepts to build a solid framework so they have a path to maturity. 

The last element I add to as many reports as possible is the ‘so now what do I do?’ section. I help the client prioritize recommendations so the association can develop a plan to act. If an association has several areas that require a lot of work, they may opt to focus on smaller projects, then revisit the larger discussion.

As you may have noticed from many of our blog posts, we love to break things down here at DelCor. In this case, it is all about making the data digestible; there is incredible information in those data, reports, and recommendations – but leadership, staff, and work groups must be able to excavate the actionable nuggets.

Images help – they act like treasure maps. What pictures and other tricks do you use to make data and recommendations understandable and actionable so they don’t die in pretty binders while problems and opportunities lie in wait?

Lego pirate with treasure map

Argh!

 

Lego pirate photo by Fanboy30

It’s agile, not free-for-all development

(Everything Else) Permanent link

free for all sticker

I’m concerned.

The term agile is being used for just about everything: parenting, business operations, personnel management, content marketing. What’s next – wine tasting?

What concerns me is that agile is everyone’s darling, everyone’s savior, the new hope. Help me, Obi Wan! Unfortunately, agile is also easily misunderstood. 

Let’s start at the beginning.

Agile was created by a group of developers in the early 2000s. If you want the quick and dirty on what it’s all about, read their Agile Manifesto to understand the basic underpinnings of this development methodology. It’s not tricky – the developers who wrote the manifesto were tired of delivering systems that didn’t provide value to stakeholders. So, they came up with radical ideas about developing and delivering software that were different than the classic waterfall methodology. 

Here’s a quick refresher on the key differences between waterfall and agile development:

  • In classic waterfall methodology, we stick to a sequence: plan, determine every system requirement, develop, test, deliver, and move into maintenance. Once we’ve completed each project phase, we move on – without looking back. Requirements are fixed once agreed upon; resources and timeline often are modified, but – by design – requirements cannot be.
  • Agile methodology follows a sequence, too, but it’s cyclical, allowing for more iterative development. It’s okay to look back – to tweak and retry something– before plowing ahead. The timeline is fixed, but requirements may be modified based on learnings as the project implementation proceeds.
  • If you want to dive a little deeper into the difference, revisit this old post of mine: agile vs. waterfall 101.


Let’s clear up some misconceptions about agile.

Agile isn’t unstructured.

Agile implementations have structure that requires everyone to know their roles, authority, and accountability in the process. Agile is not a free-for-all development methodology. 

SCRUM is agile, but agile isn’t SCRUM. 

Over the years, different flavors of agile have emerged, each with their own twist on the basic framework laid out by agile’s creators. These include SCRUM, Visualization, RAD, Crystal Clear, and so on.

I frequently hear SCRUM being used as a catch-all phrase for agile. In reality, it’s the other way around: agile is the whole ice cream shop, SCRUM is just one flavor. But it is by no means the only or even the best flavor. However, I will say that SCRUM seems to be the most popular form of agile. 

Agile methodologies have specific language. 

Each flavor has its own language. For example, a few terms specific to SCRUM are: SCRUM Master (sort of like a project manager), daily SCRUMS (15-minute stand-up meetings), user stories (how functional requirements are expressed), and a product backlog (the full list of user stories). 

One of the goals of SCRUM is to keep things moving, so it’s extremely clever to refer to the initial requirements set as a product backlog. It could have just as easily been called product features set or product user story collection. But by using the term backlog, it automatically invokes a feeling of, “We better get going; we already have a backlog!” 

Agile does not mean requirements are wishy washy.

This is the greatest misunderstanding that I would like to clarify. I hear some vendors tell prospects that they use an agile methodology, and then go on to explain one of the benefits is that it allows them to see prototypes and change requirements as the system implementation progresses – that way the client gets exactly what they want. While one flavor of agile does develop this way, most don’t. To make this claim about SCRUM, for example, would be a misstatement. In most flavors of agile, the exact details of the implementation may change, but the user stories (the basis for requirements) give the development team plenty of detail – and those stories don’t change.

Agile requires training for everyone involved. 

Please, please, please – ensure your implementation team AND your organization’s subject matter experts, project managers, leadership team, and everyone else involved with the project have training on how the selected agile methodology will be rolled out. It is a disaster to implement agile without training if your organization typically uses classic waterfall. 

Believe it or not, agile doesn’t guarantee success.

Nor does it guarantee a better quality solution. It’s that simple. Without adequate leadership, stewardship, and resources, any project can blow up into a big mess – no matter what development methodology is used. Agile alone is not necessarily the answer.

Yes, agile allows more iterative development, but that does not automatically mean you will run over budget.

If managed properly, agile can deliver on budget and on time. 

Agile isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok.


After teaching a graduate-level requirements analysis class at Georgetown University for 15 semesters, I have heard plenty of students tell tales of agile failures in their organizations. Your organization must determine for itself whether agile is right for your culture, your skills, and the specific project at hand. 

How do you decide if agile is right for you?


Agile is great when:

  • Decisions can be made quickly and confidently.
  • Subject matter experts are available throughout the project.
  • The entire team is comfortable not knowing every last detail about the solution before it is in the hands of the development or configuration team.

Don’t make any assumptions about agile with respect to whether it is right or wrong for your team or for a particular project. Agile works, but it isn’t foolproof by any means, so go into it fully armed with a clear and thorough understanding. Oh, and don’t get me started on the developers who say they have a “hybrid” approach – I’ll have to save that for another post. 

 

Flickr photo by Vincent Noel

Geek Speak: Reports

(AMS, Association Management) Permanent link

Editor’s Note: Today we launch a new occasional how-to series, Geek Speak. We take complex tasks and topics and break them down into lay language. No longer will geek speak get in your way! The concept and this initial post are the brainchildren of two of our senior consultants, Sarah Manwell and Gretchen Steenstra, both PMPs. Want us to help you get rid of geek speak? Send your nerdy questions to deardel@delcor.com and watch here for an answer!

 

lab report (cartoon drawing)

Creating a useful report specification is one of the most difficult tasks for a project team. A solid report requirement has several key components.

  1. Narrative
    • The narrative section of the report is the written business case and use of the report. This document should include:
      • Audience: Identify who will be using this report on a regular basis. Is this report used by internal staff or external users?
      • Purpose: Describe how the report will be used – will it be a statement to members, graph to Executive Team, analysis, etc.
      • Selection Criteria (GEEK ALERT): Outline the data set that will be included in this report. It is critical that developers understand what data should be included or excluded. Typically this includes information such as: members, active status, exclude inactive members.
      • Parameters: Parameters are options selected by the user to personalize the report. Frequently, parameters are drop down menus and date ranges in the system. (List of Events, Event start and end dates, Publication type)
      • Sort/Group Order: Define how data will be sorted. Will information be grouped by a category? 
      • Fields: List all fields (INCLUDE THE ACTUAL FIELD NAME) that will be displayed on the report. 
      • Output: Define the final format of the report. Will the report be exported into Excel, display results as a graph, etc. 
       
     
  2. Mock Up – draw a picture!
    report mock up (example) 

  3. Work Flow – Create a diagram to define the process. How will users access and run the report? 
    report work flow (example) 

  4. Test Plan – validate the report against the report specifications. A test plan should include the following:
    • Functional: Confirm all functions are operational. Does the report return results, do the drop down menu display info, etc. 
    • Scenario: The subject matter expert outlines common interactions with the system. 
      • The user will run this report for a single meeting between X and Y date. 
      • Another user will run this report for several events
       
    • Validation: Compare report results with expected data. If the database lists 10 registrants for an event, the report should report the same 10 individuals.
    • Exceptions: Develop cases for data that should not be returned in the report. Try to run the report using data that should be excluded.
    • Feedback Loop: The team must decide what process will be used to report feedback. For example, feedback must include all information so a developer can follow the steps a user took to recreate the issue. 
     

Do you have a report-writing horror story or a tip to prevent disaster? Let us know in the comments.

 

Flickr image by Jimmie. Report examples supplied by authors.

 

Blogger’s Digest: December/January

(Everything Else) Permanent link

frost on glass

31, here we come

Throughout 2014, we celebrated and appreciated being a 30-year-old local company. Take a look back at our 30 Acts of Appreciation.

Programming note: we’re switching our publication date to the last day of the month (or thereabouts), rather than the first day of the next. After all, our digest is a “look back” at topics on our minds, and a “look ahead” to when and where we can connect in the near future. As always, if you have suggestions, contact us!


Blogger’s Digest: December/January


Upcoming Events


TECH14 Fodder

December’s Technology Conference at Gaylord National Harbor proved to be a game changer. Attendees witnessed and took part in some real sci-fi type technologies – as well as some provocative discussions. In particular, The Future of AMS Systems, drew a bid crowd and some attention from around the web, including these posts.

 

Flickr photo by Tim

How IT directors can hone their strategic chops

(Everything Else) Permanent link

Mr. Mutton Chops

The role of IT directors is changing.

Their old foray – maintenance and management of association technology systems and network infrastructure – is increasingly being outsourced to SaaS and cloud hosting providers. What’s an IT director to do? Instead of being technology custodians only, IT directors now serve as in-house technology advisors, ambassadors, and strategic planners.

However, to earn a seat at the strategic planning table, first you must change your own perception about your role and the value you deliver – a topic I covered in my last post – before you can change the perceptions of others. Then, you must begin delivering that strategic value to fellow staff members and to your organization and its members.

Make a technology plan.

An understanding of association goals and member needs will help you develop a technology plan that will support your organization’s progress toward meeting those goals and needs. That knowledge can be acquired in discussions with senior management staff and department heads about:

  • Your organization’s mission, goals, and plans for achieving those goals.
  • Departmental goals, problems, processes, needs, and wants.
  • Member needs and aspirations.
  • The collection and use of member data.

After these discussions, it’s time to analyze what you’ve heard. 

  • How are your existing technology and data being used to provide value to members?
  • How is it helping your organization achieve its goals?
  • How is it hindering your organization? Is it being underutilized?
  • What can you and the IT department do in the coming year (or 2 or 3) to help the organization achieve its goals?

A technology plan that’s aligned with your organization’s strategic plan will strengthen your value as a strategic partner and solution provider for senior staff, volunteer leaders, and department heads. 

Keep learning.

Being strategic requires future-oriented thinking. Think creatively! How could technology be used to support the staff, organization, and members in achieving their goals? 

For that answer, you may have to go beyond your office walls. A technology leader must keep aware of current trends and how they could help your association advance its business goals and objectives. One way to do that is to compare notes with a peer network of association technology staff. What issues are they dealing with? How are they using technology to solve problems? What’s on their radar? 

Keep up with technology developments in the for-profit sector. While many associations are notoriously late adopters, there are many lessons that can be learned from tech successes and failures in the commercial world that you can apply in your association work.

Make connections and stay informed about association technology issues by joining ASAE or your state SAE. Even better, get involved with ASAE’s or your state SAE’s technology council. 

Familiarize yourself with the technology and vendors in the association market. The expo floors at ASAE conferences, especially at the ASAE Technology Conference (mark your calendar for December 15-16, 2015), provide a one-stop experience for learning about vendors and their products and services. 

The most effective association technology leaders didn’t get to where they are merely by minding the servers or creating reports. It takes hard work, perseverance, and attention to the big picture to successfully climb the ladder and become a meaningful contributor to the senior management team. Make sure you do your homework so that when you do get a seat at the table, you’re ready.

 

Flickr photo by Nate

The path from IT director to technology leader

(Everything Else) Permanent link

mountain path

The role of association IT directors has shifted as the maintenance and management of technology systems and network infrastructure are increasingly handled by SaaS and cloud hosting providers. No longer confined solely to an operational role, IT directors now focus on managing relationships with the vendors who provide these services, and serving as in-house technology advisors, ambassadors, and strategic planners.

However, as I suggested to IT directors in my last post, if you want to earn a seat at the strategic planning table, you must start seeing yourselves as positive change agents, not merely hardware custodians. You need to hone your strategic chops and change your own perception about your role and the value you can deliver before you can change the perceptions of others – and ultimately earn a seat at the decision-making table.

Move beyond technology support to become a technology leader.

If fellow staff members, senior management staff, and volunteer leaders still see you merely as the “fix-it” guy or gal, you’ve got some work to do. However, by employing savvy people skills, you can successfully change your image. Instead of being only hardware- or app-centric, work on becoming more staff- and member-centric. A good place to start is by understanding not only the mix of products and services offered by your association, but also their effect on members – focusing on the value delivered to them.

Being a technology leader also means holding people accountable for following IT policies and procedures. For example, with the heightened use of technology in all departments comes the need to document key processes – something that is not the responsibility of IT. You must also effectively make the case for why it’s in the staff’s best interest to adhere to clear and straightforward IT policies, lest you continue to be viewed as responsible for all things plugged in and blinking.

You (and your organization) will benefit in the long-run if you coach staff to take their share of responsibility for technology. For example, it’s in the association’s best interest that staff members comply with security procedures and mobile device management policies you put in place. Compliance is more likely if staff members understand how these policies benefit the organization and how they can easily comply. If you understand their perspective and concerns, you will be more successful in gaining their trust and compliance.

Develop a better understanding of member needs and association goals.

To become (and to become viewed as) more member- and staff-centric, dedicate time to discussing the big picture – your organization’s mission, goals, and plans for achieving those goals – with senior staff. Learn about the association’s strengths, weaknesses, and resources. Where is your association the leader? Where does it need help?

After you have a solid understanding of organizational issues, meet with department heads to discuss their goals, problems, processes, needs, and wants. How can IT help them achieve those goals or solve those problems? 

To make sure you understand the member and attendee perspectives, sit down with membership, education, and conference staff to talk about the needs and aspirations of members and other market segments. Find out what type of data is being collected, where it resides, and how it’s being used. Ask if you can sit in on focus groups or have access to survey results so you can better understand members, their needs, and the interaction between them and the association.

One of them

If you want to be accepted as “one of them” by senior staff, you must understand the association’s goals, programs, products, and members as well as they do. And, you must become more strategic in your thoughts and actions – a topic I’ll cover in my next post. Only then will others see you as a strategic solution provider and partner.

 

Flickr photo by Jocelyn Kinghorn

Save a seat for IT at your strategic planning table

(Everything Else) Permanent link

yellow desk chair

SaaS apps and cloud hosting are changing the roles of today’s IT leaders. Now, those CIOs and IT directors are (or should be) focused less on putting out fires and managing systems, and more on helping staff find technology solutions to business problems. This shift in IT’s role means they now have the opportunity to spend more time facilitating – and even driving – change for their organizations.

You don't have to have “CIO” in your title to impact change. IT staff can still act like CIOs. And they should.

An organization’s IT leaders are in a unique position to be internal advisors to fellow association staff. They can educate staff and leadership on how technology can help them achieve objectives and improve operations. And, they can help staff take advantage of the data and technology they have (or could have in the future).

However, since this is a new role for most IT staff, they may get some push-back from their colleagues. These days, since everyone’s a consumer of technology, many people also think they’re experts on technology. Granted, association staff now know more about technology than they ever did in the past, but that knowledge is usually limited to the specific technology they use.

New role for IT: internal technology consultant

It’s the business of IT staff to know what kinds of tools are available to help their organization fulfill its mission and to help their colleagues select and implement those tools. Ideally, they find out how other organizations are using technology to operate efficiently and achieve goals. IT staff are in-house futurists – figuring out how new technologies will affect their association’s industry or profession, members, customers of members, stakeholders, and the association itself.

New role for IT: moving beyond the help desk and server room

Traditionally, the IT department was charged only with keeping the servers, network, and desktops running. Like an electric company keeping the lights on, IT ran technology like a utility. No one else in the office messed with technology for fear of causing a meltdown.

Now, every department increasingly uses technology to do their work. IT staff no longer hangs out in the server room. They’re all over the building helping the entire organization use technology to work more efficiently and achieve their objectives. Because of this new role, they naturally have a more holistic view of the organization and its technology usage and needs. 

Despite this new perspective, in many organizations, IT is still seen as the fix-the-printer or find-the-file department. IT must continue to support staff operationally, yet their potential isn’t being utilized if they’re not given the opportunity to contribute on a strategic level too. Sometimes it’s senior staff who pigeon-holes IT to the help desk role, but often it’s IT staff themselves who resist becoming more strategic. 

New role for IT: strategic planner

To help their organization achieve its goals most effectively, every IT department, even a “department of one,” must develop a technology plan. A technology plan is based on the organization’s strategic plan as well as the short- and long-term business goals of the organization. Careful alignment between the technology plan and the strategic plan helps to establish buy-in around the building and decreases the likelihood of resistance to any changes in systems and processes.

Before developing a technology plan, IT staff must first understand their organization’s goals and direction. Discussions with staff leadership and colleagues about organizational and departmental objectives will help IT staff identify technology priorities. Even if the organization doesn’t have an official strategic plan, these conversations with staff about the organization’s mission and goals will help IT staff formulate a technology plan that moves the organization forward.  

New role for IT: technology ambassador

IT staff no longer has the luxury of working most of their day in solitude. They must focus on building relationships with and educating those who make decisions about technology investments. They must help staff and volunteer leaders understand how technology can make it possible for the organization to achieve strategic goals in the coming year – and beyond. It’s only when furnished with this understanding that decision-makers will invest in the appropriate network infrastructure and technology systems.

This “technology ambassador” role is essential to organizational success. IT can no longer be a spectator of progress. Instead, IT must be a catalyst of progress. This new role requires IT staff to be in the communication loop at the senior level – participating in board meetings and strategic planning sessions.

However, having a seat at the strategic planning table must be earned.

First, IT staff must start seeing themselves as positive change agents, not merely machine custodians. Taking the initiative – whether that involves keeping aware of current trends and their applicability to advance business goals or acting as a visionary to connect mission and vision to initiatives – is the key to effective IT leadership.

If you want a seat at the table, you need to set a place for yourself first.

 

Flickr photo by Ashley

Don’t leave IT out of the loop

(Communications, Marketing, Membership) Permanent link


multitasking man

I admit it, I was one of the guilty ones. Back in my association days, my department neglected to include our IT colleagues in a couple of technology decisions. We didn’t consult them when we migrated our WordPress-hosted blog to a self-hosted blog, or when we selected a private community.

Why? Because we believed that IT didn’t understand our department’s challenges and needs. We didn’t want to trust them with our technology decisions. Plus, when you’re trying to get something done before the next board meeting, you don’t want to slow down and work around the IT department’s crazy schedule.

But I know better now. I know all too well the reasons why corners are cut and decisions are made without always including IT. But, not including them is a mistake. IT must be part of the conversation.

As a consultant, I see how technology decisions made in a departmental box can negatively impact an organization. One of the most common consequences of excluding IT is poor or non-existent integration between core technology systems. Without the appropriate integration, staff ends up manually reentering data and slapping on Band-Aids, and website visitors have a less-than-desirable user experience. Everyone’s work becomes harder.

If you include your IT colleagues early on in the selection process, they have the opportunity to understand your business goals and ensure that proper integrations occur. Plus, departments don’t always know that the software and technologies that could solve their problems already exist at the office. Communication between staff and the IT department is key – early and often.

Now that I’m on the consultant side of the association world, I also see how IT departments could do a better job of listening to business units and understanding their daily operations and their departmental goals. Sometimes, at least in my experience, IT professionals try to find a solution too quickly, and although I love that sense of urgency, it’s better to sit down and really listen to your colleagues so you can truly understand their needs and goals. Only then should a solution be offered.

The lack of collaboration between IT and other departments is sometimes a symptom of a dysfunctional culture at associations suffering the effects of silos and competing business units. From the top down, an organization must work diligently to create a harmonious working environment where professionals understand that only by working collectively can they better support the organization’s mission and goals.

 

Flickr photo by Domenico