nonprofit IT, tech committee, IT strategy, nonprofit resources, technology tools

How a tech committee can help your nonprofit

With the technology tools available and the needs of your staff constantly changing, how can you make your IT spending strategic rather than reactive?  How can you make sure you are aware of the best tools, and that you're using your current tools most effectively and securely? Tech committees are organizational teams focused on leveraging technology that can improve adoption, innovation and satisfaction across your staff.  These teams encourage you to make the most of your data, subsequently making better decisions and improving your business processes to contribute to your mission.

Tech Impact recently conducted a webinar on this topic that meshed well with Tech Networks of Boston's thoughts on this topic which we will discuss below.

In a typical office setting, many employees work differently. Some may be experts on a certain application and using all the features, while others may be using different software and tools to get their job done most efficiently. Tech committees act as a hub within the organization to encourage employees to communicate how they are working, what they are using, what they like, and what they don’t like. This allows you to find out what tools can be better utilized or be replaced. Tech committees encourage others to share their thoughts when they otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to share.

Where do I start?

The best practice is to survey your staff once or twice per year. You will want to ask your staff which tools they are using and how they can be helped to use them better. You can also ask specific questions about the current issue resolution process in place, reporting needs, or if they have heard of any new productivity tools in the market.  

Having a designated team to gather feedback and ideas allows for your organization to:

  • Find out which employees could use more training
  • Determine if your data is being stored and accessed securely
  • Unlock new approaches in using your business applications
  • Find out which processes need to be fixed
  • Gauge employee satisfaction
  • Determine if other technology needs should be outsourced

Who should be on the team?

The number of people on the tech committee can vary depending on the size of your organization. It is ideal to have one person from each department on the team to make sure each function of your organization is represented. If your organization is very small, it would be sensible to have one person from the executive level, mid-level, and entry-level roles. It is important to have broad representation among your organization on the team to be able to capture needs and wants, and to include at least one decision maker on the team.

It is also important to have someone with technical expertise available to give advice to your tech committee and attend the meetings. If your budget allows, include a virtual CIO or IT consultant in your meetings that can listen to the challenges and give advice on how to pursue an idea. Other benefits include the knowledge of many software and hardware options, standards and practices in the industry, and access to other experts and vendors. For nonprofits, sourcing a board member who is tech-savvy to act as a volunteer adviser for your team is also a great option.

When should the team meet?

The tech committee should meet bi-monthly or quarterly and focus on what systems need to be addressed first, make sure your data is secured and easily accessed, and then decide what projects should be prioritzed.

What are some of the things the team will be tasked to do?

One task the tech committee will complete is finding out the requirements process for a new system you would like to implement. At Tech Networks of Boston, we recently found that many of our marketing functions were on various platforms and slowing down progress. We interviewed those on the team to see which requirements were needed to do their job most effectively. This allowed our tech committee to get better buy-in at the end of the decision-making process once we had found a suitable solution.

The most important task for the tech committee is to keep the communication lines open and nurture employees as they implement new technology at your organization. The team will keep staff updated on selection process, project plans, and deliverables so that the whole organization feels included and informed. This allows for happier employees who are likely to use data for decisions, which will ultimately improve your business operations to meet your mission.

If you could use an IT professional to advise your tech committee, you might like to read more about our IT consulting services. Our skilled technologists can also assist with IT strategic planning, project work, and security audits as you cross your projects off your list.

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