Probably the most important single thing you can do to make sure your ICT projects live up to your expectations is to have a planned and strategic approach. This means sitting down to work out exactly how ICT can serve your organisation’s mission and aims.
Here’s a quick pointer on some questions to ask yourself:
- Who are we, and what do we do? Technology should serve your organisations overall aims and objectives rather than becoming an end in itself. To make sure the tail doesn’t wag the dog, it’s essential to have a general IT strategy (technology plan) in place before planning a specific IT project. Your IT strategy should be developed from a clear understanding of these more general aims and objectives.
- How could IT help us get better organised and be more effective? What sorts of information does your organisation use this will include information used as a resource (news, know-how, publications, directories, learning materials etc) and for administration (phone/mail/email, distribution, records, accounts, etc)?
- Who needs to have access to which kinds of information inside and outside your organisation?
- How are these various kinds of information currently managed? Information audit
- What is the current state of our existing ICT hardware and software? ICT audit
- How could ICT help produce, organise, and distribute information most effectively?
- Who is going to be responsible for the development and management of IT? It’s important to appoint someone to co-ordinate but equally important to ensure that the whole organisation, including management and trustees, supports the strategy it is likely to affect all aspects of the organisation’s aims and activities and it requires continuity.
Write a clear IT vision statement you can keep referring back to this to help you make decisions about and plan future projects and to keep your strategy on track.
Discussion of how an IT strategy will fit into your existing work practices and organisational aims may lead to some very searching questions not only about how things are done at present, but about the structure and development of your organisation as a whole so make sure everyone is involved in the process.
Overall Information Strategy Checklist:
- What’s your organisation’s vision and mission?
- How large an organisation, how many sites
- Growth and sustainability
- The ICT Vision Statement
- Hardware (who has what, plus audit)
- Software (audit and solution map)
- ICT skills and training issues
- Website, communications and compliance
- Administration (what and how, process)
- Internet access
- Internet security
- Back up and risk management
- Networking (servers et al)
- IT Support (when it all goes wrong)
- Knowledge management and databases
- Accounting software
- Management reporting
- ICT Provision – the service mix
- Budgets and funding
- Roles and responsibilities
- Major investments and costs