NTEN: Change | March 2014
March 2014: Competitive & Innovative Nonprofits The March 2014 issue of NTEN: Change, the quarterly journal for nonprofit leaders, explores how organizations can stay relevant and resilient amidst the changing environment.
Communicate One of the underlying themes that weaves through the previous points is that excellent communication skills are fundamental to the success of IT within your organization. Listening is more important than talking. Keeping staﬀ informed about technology initiatives through regular and various forms of communication is not optional, it is essential. Honest and frank discussions have to become the norm. The days of Nick Burns (comedian Jimmy Fallon’s popular Saturday Night Live character “Your Company’s Computer Guy”) are gone. IT and operating departments must work together to make real change. Work Together Teams create a sense of community around a topic. Creating an active technology group at your organization allows people to voice their frustrations with existing technology and processes, and to suggest ideas that you or your IT staﬀ have not considered. Additionally, it creates forums that may reveal major issues that might be easily “Keeping staﬀ remedied by introducing new informed about tools or expanding existing techtechnology nology to other areas of the orinitiatives through ganization. regular and various Discussing and then solving forms of problems as a group builds concommunication is sensus and prioritizes projects, not optional, it is essential. Honest and making the implementation of agreed-upon solutions much easfrank discussions ier. Teams give you a two-way have to become the channel of communication benorm.” evolvIng role of It on leadershIP tween IT and your operating areas, build relationships and trust between them, and help to reduce the barriers between departments. Trust is the key commodity you create if your teams are functioning as they should. Creating a team that includes members of your IT staﬀ and representatives from various departments and across all levels of your organization is a great ﬁrst step in moving IT from the server room to the boardroom. My ﬁrst boss told me that a career in any administrative area is a thankless job that is only relevant when things go bad. He had a point, but he was also dead wrong. The fundamental role of an IT leader at a nonproﬁt in today’s world is making things easier and providing access to information on-demand in the most cost-eﬀective manner. You are unable to deliver on that promise if you are ﬁghting ﬁres every day. Identifying key projects, and moving them from the concept phase to reality in a timely manner, means you can utilize technology to make things better in a shorter amount of time. Technology is a tool and a means to an end. Organizations that see the value in technology understand this, and use many of the aforementioned steps to create an environment where technology ﬂourishes. STeVe MCDonell is the Vice President of Information Technology at ACHIeVA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He works with The Arc nationally on technology issues through The National Conference of Executives of The Arc (NCE). Steve serves on the Technology Advisory Board of Pittsburgh Technical Institute and is a member of The Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group. He works within ACHIEVA and with other nonprofits to implement practical and cost-effective technology solutions. ACHIEVA began utilizing cloud-based systems in 2003. nten: CHAnGe · MARCH 2014 · pAGe 21