Asking the Wrong Questions
Michael Gilbert has contributed an interesting article to N-TEN’s new newsletter: Asking the Wrong Questions. It’s hard to argue with Michael’s basic premise – that technology planning should be based on mission and goals rather than be centered around the technology itself. But I worry about the examples he uses. He’s critical of the two major examples we have of resources for small nonprofits trying to plan for themselves – TechAtlas and Compumentor’s tech planning guide.
A tool like TechAtlas certainly isn’t perfect. It’s not nearly as good as having a skilled expert who would delve into an organization’s mission and operations to recommend just the right technology solutions. But TechAtlas is more practical for a lot of organizations – which means that many will use it that otherwise wouldn’t plan at all. TechAtlas’s main goal, as I see it, is to suggest best practices to organizations that don’t have much idea of what they should be doing technology-wise. It would be great if they had a better sense of what they were doing, or hired someone who did. But there are a lot of nonprofits out there who simply can’t afford to do this, and a lot more who won’t devote the funds even if we think they should. Providing these folks with a means to less-than-horrible technology decisions is a worthwhile and even honorable goal.
Perhaps there’s some technology planning method or tools that would allow small nonprofits to do a more effective job planning on their own. I’m all for that. But in looking at the possibilities, we need to be sure account for the nonprofits who can’t afford to hire us.