When I go on a road trip with my family, I know we’ll have a much better time if we plan ahead. We check the air in the car’s tires, gas, oil, and windshield wiper fluid. I remind everyone to take along what they need for the ride—snacks, water, and chargers. And, most importantly, I make sure we know which route is best to take to our destination. In the old days, that meant plotting the route on a map; now it means entering the address into Waze.
IT planning is like prepping for a road trip.
When you’re making plans for your organization’s future, you need the same mindset. You assess your existing technology first to determine whether it’s up to the job, and you identify what technology you’ll need to take you to your destination. This detailed roadmap is your technology plan.
Like a smooth car ride, the cooperation of every department is needed to develop and maintain a technology plan. However, there’s only one driver: to make sure that your organization benefits from a holistic view of all your technology projects and initiatives, the plan should be owned and managed by the IT department.
Your technology plan begins with the road check.
Start by assessing your current state of technology. What’s the state of your infrastructure/network technology, association management system, content management system, and other specialty solutions? Then, identify any problem areas and processes that could be improved by technology. For example, if the turnaround time on an application takes too long because of redundant data entry, document the inefficiencies and identify possible solutions, including new or improved processes or technology that could solve the problem.
Don’t try to create your technology plan in insolation.
Your technology plan must support and align with your organization’s strategic plan. That alignment is critical to making the technology plan actionable—but also to helping you demonstrate to the board the importance of investing in technology. The plan helps the board see the large role technology plays in meeting and exceeding your organization’s strategic goals and mission. It provides a roadmap that shows how your organization will grow and thrive by leveraging technology.
IT maturity is your GPS to an actionable tech plan.
If the idea of developing a technology plan seems overwhelming or if your organization lacks the resources to fully engage in this effort, you may want to start the process by assessing your organization’s technology maturity. Knowing where your organization falls on the IT maturity spectrum will help you and your board understand how your existing technology supports or limits your organization’s potential.
An IT maturity assessment will help you understand how effectively your organization uses technology (and how you compare to other organizations). You’ll have a sense of what it takes to progress to the next level of technology maturity, and how you can better use technology to accomplish your mission. This exercise will help you develop a strategic approach for making decisions about priorities and resources—in essence, a technology plan.