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Info Line, Inc. ... Bringing people and services together
Project Connect

Developing a Technology Plan

A Project Connect White Paper
by Jack Janoso

Copyright 2000 Info Line, Inc., Akron Ohio
All rights reserved.

If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader, 
click here for a printable version of this document. 
To get your free Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here.

Click here for a Microsoft Excel Version of Appendices
which you can save onto your computer to work with

Discussion Topics

The Purpose of a Technology Plan

The Necessity of a Technology Plan

The Components of a Technology Plan

Putting a Technology Plan Together

Budgeting for Technology

Executing a Technology Plan

Practical Suggestions, Issues and Common Pitfalls

Appendix 1: Business Strategy Overview

Appendix 2: Current State Assessment

Appendix 3: Future Vision & Guiding Principles

Appendix 4: The Tech Plan

Appendix 5: The Work Plan

The Purpose of a Technology Plan

What is a Technology Plan?

A technology plan is simply a business plan focused on technology.

How is this related to a Business Plan?

The technology plan is driven by the organization's overall business plan. You might have visionary people trying to drive the technology plan, but you must understand where the business is going and how technology can help take you there. You must also understand your business so that you can work with the organization's limitations.
The organization's overall strategic plan should have a technological component so that the technology can support the strategic plan. For this reason, technology is just as important as staffing and funding.

What is technology's role as a facilitator of business initiatives?

Technology facilitates service expansion. You can reach people who have not been able to find where you are and what you do. You can also serve them better with fewer resources. 
As access to technology increases, its value increases. It also gets easier to use as a facilitator of information. If organizations are to survive the turn of the century, they must increase their use of the tools available.

The Necessity of a Technology Plan

Why will a Technology Plan be necessary for non-profit agencies in the next century?

Controlled growth of rapidly changing technology. Technology has a much shorter lifetime than other capital expenses. Things are changing so quickly that you must plan for on-going upgrades.
Competitive advantage. Geographic boundaries are separating. Technology gives you more opportunity to do more and reach farther. If you don't, your competitors will. And competitors does not mean those organizations doing what you doit's those who are going after the same resources that you are going after.
Changing business environment. We're looking toward an economic recession. You must increase your technology now, while the economy is good, or you might not have the opportunity when the economy turns.
Fund raising initiatives, grants, etc. Funders are changing their philosophy. They won't give technology grants because the organizations don't know how to effectively use it. However, a plan that includes technology as integral to an overall business plan makes it easier to justify and get needed funding.

The Components of a Technology Plan

Business strategy overview
Current state assessment
Internal Environment
Identification of deficiencies
Future vision
Guiding principles
Critical success factors

Business Strategy Overview (see Appendix 1)

An understanding and discovery of the organization's mid- to long-term ...
business goals and objectives
vision (has to start from the top of the organization), and
environmental influences (look at the industry).
Answers the &
Who will be affected,
What needs to be achieved,
Where will the equipment go,
When does it need to be in place, and
Why and how will it push the overall strategic business plan?

Current State Assessment ... (see Appendix 2)

Internal Environment

Examine the organization's current capabilities, abilities, technology, and software usage. Also identify staffing capabilities, limitations, and needs.
Look at the organization's overall capability to support future vision, specifically&
TechnologyWhat technology is currently in place? What objectives does it currently meet, and what objectives can it not meet? Does the current technology need to be merely upgraded or completely replaced? Is there sufficient technology available for planned growth, or does it need to be enhanced significantly?
ApplicationsWhat software is currently being used? Is it sufficient to meet your needs or does it need to be replaced with upgraded software? Are all appropriate staff sufficiently trained in its use? What training opportunities are available, and does your staff know about them?
InfrastructureEvery organization's infrastructure is unique. It is defined by the inter-relationships between upper management, middle management, and staff. For example, are additional staff cross-trained to allow for back-up staffing or increases in responsibilities as growth continues? Is management supportive of staff training? If not, can you impact this in any way?
OrganizationHow do you get the organization to embrace change? It must be through focusing on the organization's overall strategic goals: this is where we are headed, and this is what we have to do to make sure we can be successful. Also, upper management support is critical.

Identification of Deficiencies

Know your weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.
These must be prioritized and appropriately categorized&
TechnologyIf technical knowledge is a weakness, then take advantage of technology experts from outside.
ApplicationsWhat processes are being fulfilled through software applications, and which need to be transferred to electronic completion? Is the software being used the most appropriatee.g., are you using spreadsheets when databases should be used?
InfrastructureIf there are problems with the basic infrastructure, such as high staff turnover or cash flow problems, then technology planning is a waste of energy. Solve the basic infrastructure problems first, then begin planning for growth.
OrganizationTalk to users! Find out what their concerns are early on. You could use this to your advantage when strategizing. Let them know why the change is occurring and what is expected of them. Allow them to guide your strategy, but not to drive it. Good business decisions must be upheld throughout the process

Future Vision ... (see Appendix 3)

Know where you want to go.
This is the "how" of the Strategic Planning Process.
Prioritization and coordinationAs valuable as technology is, you must prioritize it among all of your organization's business initiatives. Everyone involved has other responsibilities, and you must coordinate the effort.
Organizational impactChange management is a critical component. You must address it up front, or you won't achieve your expectations. There's a lot of internal marketing in all of this.
Technology drivers (i.e., the internet)How will it be used? Brainstorm as to how your organization can utilize its features?
Disposition of current equipmentContact second-market vendors. Inventure Place will take computers and even pick them up.

Guiding Principles

Basic concepts necessary to support the maturation of the technology vision.
"Rules of the Road"
Change managementEstablish the change management process. How will you get there?
Technology oversightSomeone has to have responsibility for evaluating the implementation continually.
When do you know when to hire an MIS person in-house? This depends on how soon you plan to integrate technology and to what degree. Someone must have ownership. If no one available can own it while still accomplishing their primary responsibilities, then you must consider hiring someone else. But you have to support this person. If you want to keep him, you have to give money, budgets, and support from higher management.
Education and trainingThis is critical! When you make an investment in technology, you have to establish a baseline level of proficiency for staffing. Consider the importance of cross-training. Make sure everyone knows the basics: Word, Excel, PowerPoint.
Dependence on technologyAssess the dependence on technology that you are building into the system. What happens when a computer goes down? Do you have contingency plans? It's a shifting cost-benefit. People very quickly become dependent on technology. It shortens the time-lines for communications. When it goes down, people become paralyzed. Build into the plan the processes of your organization.
Centralization vs. decentralizationDo you want all departments to have their own databases, letter formats, etc.? If not, then establish the standards early.
Current business practicesTechnology is most often the change management driver in the organization. It forces people to realize that the way they have done things in the past is not necessarily the best way. It helps them reconsider how they can best perform their responsibilities.
Choosing among optionsThere are advantages and disadvantages to every option. Consider them from a business standpoint-e.g., confidentiality, security, etc.-and choose the one which makes the most business sense.

Critical Success Factors

These are organizational beliefs, priorities and actions that are vital to supporting the "Vision"
Resources (people, technology, knowledge, etc.)Know what you have and how they can be used.
Leadership, sponsorshipYou need someone who has access to your overall strategic vision to have ownership and responsibility for implementation. Also, the CEO must be a co-champion of the project.
Stability of organization and resourcesMust have some measure of stability before implementation. If the organization is not stable, focus on establishing stability before implementing the technology plan.
Willingness (buy-in)This is always organization-specific. What is the best way to motivate your employees in your infrastructure? The best way to establish user buy-in is to be sensitive to others' perspectives, yet clearly communicate vision and opportunity.
TeamworkPeople are just as important as technology. Invest in your people as strongly as you invest in equipment.

Putting a Technology Plan Together ... (see Appendix 4)

Step 1: Begin to plan

Understand that technology is a commitment (a living investment)-you have to grow it and nurture it.
Minimize technological risk of obsolescence by sticking to industry norms (e.g., Microsoft).
Send out a survey to departments to identify all equipment needed for the up-coming year. Supervisors must include a justification for each purchase.
Summarize the request with dollar estimates.
Include planned obsolescence (equipment life cycles can be managed, but you have to do the planning up-front).
This process shows that you thought through what you want to do, what you need to do, and why.

Step 2: Begin to communicate

Get your organization involved.
Clearly explain business reasons for embracing technology.
Treat technology as a "tool" for improvement, rather than a "threat."
Realize that technology requires time, patience and education.
All technology holds an inherent learning curve-it takes time, repetition, and practice.
Ask for feedback-as much as you don't want to hear it, you must listen to feedback and do something about it.

Step 3: Break the Technology Plan into smaller, more controllable projects

Think big, work small, and always keep the vision in front of you.
Identify resources (internal and external)-if you don't have what you need, find it.
Do your homework.
Assign timelines for each project. You must put boundaries on projects to ensure the project moves forward.


Separate the operating from the capital to understand short-term/long-term on-going costs.
Always include education and training.
Identify all costs up-front so that you don't have to keep going to management for additional funds. Planning shows that you understand the whole process.
Build in contingency funds.
Understand and use the different types of budgeting
Capital (see Figure 1)
Any major capital equipment purchases--such as PC's, fax machines, printers, major software purchases.
Each organization may have differing $$ limits for capital purchases.
Operating (see Figure 2)
What you need on a daily basis to keep your organization operational.
Any fees associated with ...
Support from outside vendors
Maintenance fees
Minor equipment
Purchased services--telecom, wiring, etc.
Project-specific (see Figure 3)
Smaller components of both operating and capital, specifically focused to one particular project or initiative.
Gives an overall view of the project's cost to the organization. Break it down into specific details.
Look at all significant factors-e.g., back-ups, generators, etc.
You must show that you understand it completely.

Figure 1: 
Capital Technology Budget - 2000

Item Description Cost
PC Client Software- New purchases & upgrades $10,000.00
Laptop Computers - (7)  $20,000.00
Additional Telephones - Speaker  $5,000.00
Voice Mail & Call Accounting Upgrades $7,500.00
PC's with Monitors and Memory (10) $25,000.00
Hewlett Packard Laserjet 6P(15)
E-mail Server  $4,000.00
Fax Machines (3)
Network Interface Cards - New pcs, Laptops $4,000.00
Work Station furniture for I.S. Staff - Chairs $35,000.00
Training Facility Furniture - Tables / Chairs $20,000.00
Contingency - Hardware (pcs, Printers, etc.)

Go back to discussion


Figure 2: 
Operating Technology Budget - 2000


Budgeted Cost

Telephone Service $50,000.00

Telephone expenses based on current YTD expenses + approx. 12%

Phone Equipment $12,000.00 Annual maintenance cost for phone systems and voice mail
Primary Computer Equipment  $2,000.00 Cost of vendor maintenance
LAN Router Maintenance $1,000.00 Cost of maintaining redundant routers for LAN/ WAN availability
Wiring Service  $3,000.00 Needed for Changes, Moves and Adds to existing telephone / network services
Internet Service Provider - AOL  $700.00 Cost to maintain an Internet service provider, and web page/intranet.
Consulting Assistance - Installation  $2,500.00 Cost of installing new e-mail package
TRAVEL & SEMINARS  $1,000.00 Seminar Expenses
MEMBERSHIP DUES & SUBSCRIPTIONS $100.00 Funds for professional organizations, and trade publications
EQUIPMENT REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE $300.00 Estimate of increased necessity to repair and support aging equipment.
STAFF TRAINING $2,550.00 Cost of providing vendor training and hardware / software knowledge
MINOR EQUIPMENT & SOFTWARE $3,000.00 Equipment needed to support the overall operation , but not considered to be capital. Includes items such as cables, modems, minor software etc.
TOTALS -FYE 2000 $78,150.00

Go back to discussion


Figure 3: 
Project-Specific Technology Budget - 2000
E-Mail Project

Item Description

Budgeted Cost

     Client Software 
$5,000.00 $5,000.00
     Hardware (server and peripherals)
$4,000.00 $4,000.00
     Staff Training
$550.00 $550.00
     Consulting Assistance
 $2,500.00 $2,500.00

Go back to discussion


When Creating a Budget

Get a good feel for what technology is truly costing your organization-get others to offer input.
Consider any potential costs-use reference sources to determine best guesses on cost.
Remember that budgeting is not an exact science.
Always "shoot on the high side"-always budget for the worst case.

Executing a Technology Plan

Be wary of all vendors (choose vendors wisely). Take the time to ask questions and follow-through on references. Get credit references.
Be organized. Take the time to put it in a business context.
Have your project scope well-defined and publicly communicated. Stick to your scope. It's easy to snowball, but keep the focus on your initial goal.
Protect your investment &
Look very closely at contracts in terms of warranties, functionality, etc. Make sure it is in writing. This is all you have to protect you, so know what you want and what you're getting and make sure it is documented.
Have your attorney review the contract-she might find something that will protect you in the long run.
Base payment on performance, rather than the passage of time between events. For example, "we will pay $10,000 when the server is functioning properly" instead of "we will pay $10,000 in three months."
Ensure your intellectual property. You are giving the vendor the keeps to your business. Make sure confidentiality is maintained.
Check on the vendor reputation. One call to the BBB takes little time, but may save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Get Y2K assurance in writing.
Get references AND check references. Get a complete list of all their clients. Check with your peers.
Outline all costs up front, including vendor and client travel. This can make the difference for a successful budget.
Be wary of "vaporware" and "disappearing" vendors
Be wary of licensing costs (necessary evil). Be legal with all software. Getting caught can hurt you worse than you can imagine, and software makers are beginning to become more aggressive.
Maintenance fees can significantly increase investment costs . How quickly will they increase over time. Be sure you know this.
Expect problems
Have a plan to track issues.
Document everything.
Insist to tie fees to performance-this is critical.
When problems arise, revisit your cost/benefit, goals and objectives. Have you changed the scope of your project? Did you forget any components? This will get you moving in the right direction again.
Never stop a project that you have intentions of completing. If you do, it will die and will never become an organization priority again.

Practical Suggestions, Issues, and Common Pitfalls

Consider the state of your current environment ...
Stable/turbulent-don't start a major technology investment project in a turbulent environment.
Corporate culture is important-you must have top-down support for technology.
Be positive and willing to learn-let staff know that you are willing to listen to their concerns and suggestions.
Don't be intimidated.
Stick to your timelines.
Time is money, especially for technology.
Use your budget to your advantage ...
Understand your limitations.
Consider both dollars and resources.
Refuse requests to diverge or sway from the project focus.
Be careful of software licensing ...
Don't copy software.
Purchase the required number of licenses.
Operating systems (Novell, NT)-find experts who can help. If you set it up wrong, it will cost you more in the long run.
Microsoft Office products-Word/Excel-know your tools.
Get advice before you buy.
Control and monitor internet connectivity &
Use written policies and procedures to curtail lost productivity.
Security risks-keep your organization's reputation primary.
Be sure to identify inappropriate subject material.
Protect your organizational liability
Create and enforce an internet usage policy
Focus ...
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Keep the project manageable.
Keep your focus and periodically reevaluate progress (timeline & budgets). Are you meeting your objectives?
Invest in knowledgeable resources (internal or external).
Don't expect miracles immediately ...
Invest in education.
Build upon your investment.
Expect some difficulty with end-users.
Take some time to think through an approach.
Create a work plan and timeline. Outline what tasks need to occur and assign them to staff. (see Appendix 5).
Follow-up ...
Monitor your progress. Create a periodic status report and continual evaluation.
Avoid surprises.
Monitor your budget diligently
Periodically update your plans. Remember that all plans are living documents-they must be continually revised to meet the needs of the present and future that could not be foreseen in the past.

Resources on the Internet

Benton's Best Practices Toolkit &
Sylvia Bodolay: A Guide to Technology Planning & 
CEE Planning for Technology Model &
Do's and Don'ts of Technology Planning &
European Council of International Schools: Technology Planning/Coordination &
Grunwald & Tavernise, Developing an Internet Strategy for Your Nonprofit &
Hiring a consultant (CompuMentor) &
Internet Nonprofit Center: Planning &
NCRTEC's Resources for Guiding Questions for Technology Planning &
RIMS CTAP Technical Planning Blueprint &
Technology in the Workplace: Advantages for Nonprofits & Small Businesses &
Technology Planning: It's More than Computers (National Center for Technology Planning) & 
See also Project Connect's Online Resources




Appendix 1:
Business Strategy Overview

Click here for a Microsoft Excel Version of Appendices
which you can save onto your computer to work with

Goals & Objectives Priority & Timeframe Technology Which Can Fulfill Future Vision Who Will Be Affected Currently Have Tech Needs Upgraded, New Tech Needed

Go back to Business Strategy Overview discussion

Appendix 2:
Current State Assessment

Internal Environment

  Current Internal Environment Future Internal Environment Needed Changes
Software Applications      

Identification of Deficiencies

  Impact on Objectives & Goals Weaknesses Internal Resources for Improvement External Resources for Improvement
Software Applications        

Go back to Current State Assessment discussion

Appendix 3:
Future Vision & Guiding Principles

Technology Change & Person Responsible Processes Affected Persons Affected Planned Education & Training Change Management Plans

Go back to Future Vision discussion

Appendix 4:
The Tech Plan

Project Name  
Person Responsible   Project Start Date   Project Finish Date  
Department(s) Affected  
Strategic Goal Addressed  
  text Justification/ Resources Estimated Life Cycle Replace Date Quantity Cost Each Total Annual Cost Capital or Operating
Ancillary equipment                
Installation costs                
Repairs & maintenance                
Travel costs                
Dues & subscriptions                
ISP fees                
Wiring fees                
Total Project Costs $0.00

Go back to Technology Plan discussion

Appendix 5:
The Work Plan

Project Name  
Person Responsible   Project Start Date   Project Finish Date  
Department(s) Affected  
Strategic Goal Addressed  
Check when Completed # Steps to Be Taken Person Responsible Person(s) Affected Start Date Finish Date Contingency Plans/Comments

Go back to Work Plan discussion



Find out about us!

Project Connect

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Copyright 2000  Info Line, Inc., 474 Grant Street, Akron, Ohio " 330-762-5627
All rights reserved.

Info Line is a participant of Project Connect,
empowering non-profits through technology & connectivity