Why Technology Should Come Last

Too many times we have heard the same story from non-profit organizations about a failed technology initiative.  It’s sad and quite frankly, it pisses me off.  The story typically goes like this:  “We thought we were getting this great system but when the project was complete the system didn’t align with who we are as an organization and it just doesn’t work for us.  A lot of the staff think it’s less efficient than when we did everything with paper and spreadsheets.”  Why does this happen? Some Implementer didn’t take the time to understand the organization before designing and implementing the system.

At Mission Matters Group, we believe that when implementing a new technology system, the technology portion should come last in a line of project objectives.  So, what should come before technology?

1. People:  No matter what anyone tells you, the people that make the non-profit organization tick are the most important part.  This means spending a significant amount of time talking to, listening to and getting to know the people should happen as a first step in any engagement.  Building trust with the people, from the Executive Director to the front line staff, will often equate to project buy-in and a successful change management when the technology is implemented.

2. Process:  I’m in amazement when a technology vendor or consultant will provide a proposal to a client without first understanding their processes.  How is this even possible?  Taking the time to understand the business processes of an organization equips you with a lot of information that is essential to any technology implementation.  Sure, some of these processes might change along the way, but knowing how the bones of the business works and what they are trying to achieve allows for greater efficiencies, and a much simpler design/development, when the technology is implemented.

3. Technology:  Once there is a firm grasp on the people and processes, then it’s time to focus on the technology.  Any technology decision should always be made through the lens of what was learned in the time spent with people and process.  This ensures there is alignment to the uniqueness of the particular organization.  No two organizations are the same, and therefore no two technology decisions or implementations should be the same.

Mission Matters Group believes firmly that an organization’s mission should be the guiding light to any strategic information management decision.  Following the People, Process, Technology concept allows us to never waiver on this belief.

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