A common-sense approach to adopting technology

Kristen Fulks and Bo Crader

[Publisher’s note: This article was provided by Blackbaud, a maker of fundraising software. Blackbaud is a PJ business partner.]

Technology dominates today’s headlines – whether it’s the latest trend in consumer electronics, the explosion of mobile applications or the evolution of “next generation” platforms.

Regardless of your next technology project, here are a few thoughts to consider when evaluating whether a technology trend is one your organization should adopt, and if so, how you might go about doing so.

Review your mission statement

Forget about technology for a moment and think about your organization’s purpose: What do you do, why do you do it, and what are you trying to achieve?

Aligning the implementation of new technology to support your organization’s mission – say, by helping others understand how an obscure data project will streamline the delivery of your programs – will provide a solid foundation for keeping focus on a project when things are difficult or when other priorities pop up.

Consider your key constituencies

Who are you trying to impact and who are your true audiences and stakeholder groups? If you can’t connect the dots between mission, audience and a particular technology initiative, consider either handing the project off to someone else in the organization who may have a better sense of how the three can best align, or focusing on another project.

Look at peer organizations

Whatever you’re trying to do, chances are you’re not the first. Identify peers – both similar organizations and those outside of your normal peer group – who have implemented similar strategies.

How did they leverage technology? What worked well, and perhaps just as important, what did not?

Social technologies make it easier than ever to engage and share practices among an expanded community.

Define your metrics, priorities and strategy

The most important (and often overlooked) step of collaborative projects is clearly defining and setting expectations, both about the desired results of the project and the responsibilities of those involved.

Extra work effort early in a project to define a comprehensive program for evaluating progress can have the added benefit of providing a baseline for justifying investments made on behalf of the project after its completion – the ever-elusive return-on-investment, or ROI.

Put your technology plan into action

Take an approach appropriate to both technology and your organization – one that factors in the culture and emotion of change as well as the goals of the project.

Ultimately, the success of new technology is based in large part on human variables, such as the perception of its value, ease-of-use and adoption by peers, meaning that even the latest trends in technology are based on the fundamentals of human interaction.

Kristen Fulks and Bo Crader are Principal Consultants with Blackbaud, and recently co-authored the white paper, Top Technology Trends.

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