Monday, January 23, 2006

Small Nonprofits and Technology Planning

Michael Gilbert makes a solid point... we ask the wrong questions of nonprofits in the technology planning process. We ask technology-centric questions, rather than asking mission centric questions and then connecting them to appropriate technologies. As an illustration, he looks at TechAtlas and Techsoup.

Laura Adler defends TechAltas and Techsoup a little, arguing "Providing these folks with a means to less-than-horrible technology decisions is a worthwhile and even honorable goal."

I think there is another point in here. When I buy a car, I ask how far am I going to drive, what saftey rating do I need, am I going to spend a lot of time in the snow? These are the consumer equivalent of mission questions. But the end-point are "pre-packaged" solutions-- a truck, a car, etc.

What we haven't done in nonprofit technology is focus on assembling, building and providing the prepackaged solutions. Once those are in place, you can ask mission-focused questions and realistically connect them to technologies that will meet nonprofits' needs.

Laura says, "But in looking at the possibilities, we need to be sure to account for the nonprofits who can’t afford to hire us." If everyone has to assemble unique solutions from component building blocks to meet mission-needs, then nonprofits who can't afford to hire people to assemble these solutions are simply out of luck.

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1 comment:

Beth said...

Hmm .. my mind went to a different angle after reading the questions post
http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2006/01/asking_the_righ.html