Why its Important for Not-for-Profits to Have an IT Roadmap

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IT Roadmaps

IT roadmaps are an important staple for a lot of larger firms that have a lot to risk when adapting to new technology. Today, they’re gaining more and more traction in SMEs and the not-for-profit sector; IT managers love roadmaps for the stress they avert, while management, accounting and finance staff love IT roadmaps for their ability improve productivity. Let’s explore why this is the case and see why IT roadmaps are especially important in the not-for-profit sector.

Upgrading technology without a roadmap:

In normal circumstances, companies and not-for-profits would conduct a cost / benefit analysis or some other review before rolling out a new piece of technology, and this usually works just fine. The problem, however, comes when adopting a suite of technological changes out of a sudden urge to refresh the organisation. Sweeping changes aren’t usually subject to the same scrutiny as they would be if you were analysing just one piece of technology at a time.
As a result:

  • Staff take longer to adopt to new technologies
  • Cash flow is held up in upgrading systems rather than in short, manageable payments
  • There is not enough time to properly test software before purchasing
  • Goals may not be achieved and in some cases, may not even be accounted for

IT roadmaps spread out the implementation process, allowing for a thorough review of the different options as well as proper identification of goals. A good IT roadmap is designed to be adaptable to the uncertain; the technology planned for could be anything from a CRM system to hardware upgrades or even virtual reality. It’s almost like a cost / benefit analysis for each individual item, except you can clearly identify how the different implementations interact with each other in achieving your organisation’s goals.

Features of a good IT roadmap:

A good IT roadmap looks a lot like a product plan timeline. It allows for expansion and contraction in your team, and should ideally mitigate the problems discussed above.
Some of the basics necessary for an effective roadmap include:

  • Identification of risks
  • Goals
  • Milestones
  • Planned implementation stages
  • Necessary hurdles – staff training, prerequisite technology etc.
  • Likely hurdles – are there new regulatory pressures on the horizon (like GDPR), or some other uncertainty to prepare for?
  • Reports – could be periodic or a short period after each implementation stage

Each implementation stage (also known as ‘rollouts’, ‘initiatives’ or ‘projects’) should be treated like an individual analysis. Research should be done on all the possible technology alternatives, and if alternatives exist, preferences should be made. In the planning stages, it’s important to constantly review how your planned implementation stages relate to the goal and constantly ask yourself “is it worth it?”. Some organisations like establishing best and worst alternative outcomes to manage risk and put things in perspective.

Stay on the lookout:

Often, when setting a roadmap as far as three years in the future, there’ll be development delays, product updates, or even new entrants on the market. In addition to reviewing the success of technology as you implement it, it’s also important to ensure all other planned implementations are going well. This could occur quarterly, bi-annually or as often as you see necessary, but the important thing is to always be on the lookout. These are just some of the questions that need to be asked semi-regularly to ensure any potential conflict in your roadmap can be mitigated:

  • Is the planned technology out yet?
    – If yes, are there any new features unaccounted for?
    – If it’s a software, has the interface changed?
    – If not, is it on track to be released as scheduled?
  • How will other technology you’ve implemented interact with other planned implementations?
  • Are there any new entrants on the market?

Importance in the not-for-profit environment:

Beyond the benefits outlined above, there’s a couple of reasons why not-for-profits should be looking at roadmaps when implementing new technology. In the non-profit environment, where cash flow can be staggered and often comes in the form of government grants, an IT roadmap can separate a comprehensive upgrade into bite-sized chunks that can be scheduled in line with your budget.
A roadmap also provides great insight and analytics. For example, if your organisation collects donations or engages with clients and benefactors through a number of mediums, separating technology implementations allows you to see which upgrades improved KPIs the most. This will help you with future technology implementations, put your goals into perspective and give you an idea of where resources should go in the future.

So, where to from here?

Whether you’re after guidance in building your own IT roadmap, or you’d like an external team to take care of it all for you, get in touch with us. Human IT manage IT solutions for not-for-profit organisations all over Australia. We’ve got the knowledge and experience to diligently produce a roadmap designed to keep your organisation productive and sustainable for years to come.

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