HOW TO GET YOUR CHARITY READY FOR DIGITAL CHANGE.
Here’s the second in a series of six guides from the team at Creative on ‘how to get your charity ready for digital change’. Look out for the third in the series next month in which we take a look at the key trends that will shape the way we work by 2025 . Join the conversation on Facebook or LinkedIn.
THE IMPROTANCE OF HAVING AN IT STRATEGY
‘Strategy’ is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown about a lot in business, but a lot of people have a hard time nailing down what it actually means. We’ve put together a brief guide to creating an IT strategy that’s easy, effective and efficient.
What is an IT Strategy?
Think of your IT strategy as your digital roadmap. It starts with you setting out where you want your Charity or Not-For-Profit to go and how technology can help you get there. Then you put together a clear vision for what you want your IT department to look like now, a few months down the line and even years later. It might seem simple, but 96% of charities lack a clear, defined strategy and that makes it much harder to keep your charity from evolving in the digital world we live in.
The Benefits of an IT Strategy
An IT strategy gives you (and everyone else in your charity) a clear idea of what you’re working towards. There are many different ways to structure your strategy, but it’s often helpful to set tangible goals with timelines, so you can see if you’re progressing at the rate you want.
Having a clear structure in place helps your team better understand their role within the charity. They know what they’re aiming for and how best to get there, so it makes their working day more efficient. It also means that you can cut down on unnecessary work, saving money and man hours.
Your IT strategy can also be a handy reference point when making big business decisions, because you can see where you’re at, where you’re planning to be and what that means for your capabilities. There’s no point investing time, money and energy into updating your user interface now if you won’t have the technology in place to actually execute it until two years down the line.
Why are IT Strategies Important for Charities?
Charities are typically working to tight budgets and with fewer resources than other sectors, which means that IT strategies can sometimes seem low on the priority list. But they’re also often working with huge amounts of user data and various income streams – which means that not having an IT strategy can cause more stress in the long run.
Visibility is becoming increasingly important in the charity sector, both in terms of regulatory bodies and individual donors who want to know exactly where their money is going. If your tech department is all over the place (or on the computer of that intern who’s good with Excel that no one else knows the password to), it can be difficult to produce data on demand and risks harming your charity’s reputation.
Having an IT strategy protects you and your community, and it can also be good for your bottom line. Clear strategies mean more efficient working and free up valuable time to focus on your bigger picture.
How to Start Building an IT Strategy
The most important thing about an IT strategy is that it works for you – which means the best way to start building one is to figure out what you want from your tech department. Good IT strategies should work in harmony with your overall business vision. Do you want to improve your prospect donor relations? Maybe you need a better database / CRM. Finding that staff are struggling with day-to-day tech problems, and it’s slowing them down at work? You could implement regular IT training to keep staff’s knowledge up-to-date.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be about big changes. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving your fundraisers from paper forms to tablets to save on data entry later and moving a small step to real-time data.
It’s also a good idea to have a look at what’s already out there. After all, if something works, why not use it? The tech sector is constantly evolving and there’s some incredible innovation happening in automation and artificial intelligence. Find out what your competitors are using and take some inspiration back to your own charity.
Implementing and Controlling Your IT Strategy
Once you’ve decided what your strategy looks like, it’s time to put it in place. It can be daunting to introduce any kind of change into an office, no matter how small, so it’s important that your staff is kept informed about what’s going on and receive the training they need to make the most of your new strategy.
Implementing an effective strategy can take time, so it’s important that you regularly monitor and progress any changes you make – and don’t be afraid to make changes along the way. Sometimes, the best way to see if something works is to try it, take notes and then adapt as necessary.
How We Can Help
We have a dedicated team of IT experts and strategists that can help you design, implement and maintain your IT strategy. Whether you already know what you want and just want someone to do the heavy-lifting, or you know you need a change but have no idea where to start, we can jump in wherever you need us.
For more advice, information or to talk about your options, call us or leave a message online and one of our team will be in touch shortly.