Here are some common questions
Are you expensive?
The goal is to be affordable, at least by consulting standard.
Of course, afforable is a relative concept. If you are one of the handful of flush non-profits, then you don’t care. For many others, anything greater than zero is an issue (see the next FAQ question).
My fee scale gives significant incentive for longterm engagements, even if it’s only for a few hours on a weekly or monthly basis. The reason is that there is almost nothing I offer that can be properly done in an hour or two. I need to understand your organization and culture if I’m going to advise you wisely. And that takes time.
Why aren't you a non-profit giving away service?
I considered that approach. And I decided against it.
The things I do require your attention. If I’m grant funded and come to you free of charge, I’m not going to get your attention, at least not in the same way as when you’re paying the bill.
Can you help with computer problems?
I probably can; however, I won’t. But I will recommend some talented people and organizations that can do a fine job for you.
If we need a system, can you program it?
I probably can; however, I won’t.
If you really need a custom system to support your operation, I can manage the process on you behalf. I have many years of experience in all the aspects of software/system design and development.
What happens first?
First is a consultation, at no charge. It can be from 30 minutes to several hours.
You need time to decide if you trust me and can work with me. I need to make an initial assessment of your needs to see if I’m even the right person for the issue.
If we both want to move forward, we will discuss what is involved, how much time it will take and how much it will cost.
How long does a technology strategic plan take?
It all depends.
A few of you will need a very comprehensive plan for a major technology initiative or for an overhaul of your business process. Your potential funders will likely demand it. On the other hand, most of you want to think about the path forward as simply as possible. The first might be 75 pages with a four-page executive summary. The second might be just a page and a half, double-spaced.
One of the things I offer is a sensitivity to the needs and the limitations of non-profits and a commitment to help you, whatever that means for your particular situation.
What good is it?
For most non-profits, I consider it a victory that you’ve even considered the words “technology” and “strategic” and “plan” in the same sentence.
Don't tell me. Show me.
Chances are that you’ve heard this, even if not is so many words.
Obviously, it’s a call for numbers, for proof that you are succeeding. Stories and anecdotes are still very powerful in telling your story but increasingly funders also want hard evidence of success. They may call it metrics or key performance indicators (KPI) or some other name.
What's involved in gathering data for charts and graphs?
It starts with the answer to two questions:
- What chart or graph or comparison would you ideally want to present to show the success of your mission?
- What data is already available?
Those questions define, at least in rough terms, what constitutes strong evidence or proof of your success and also whether sufficient data exists already. If you need more or different data, we have the added challenge of gathering it.
What is a CIO?
CIO stands for Chief Information Officer. Some organizations have a Chief Technology Officer in addition or in stead.
It is a top-level executive position in a company, often on par with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operations Officer (COO).
Most non-profits don’t have a CIO and don’t need one, at least not full-time. If technology is not a big factor in how you do what you do, it is probably inappropriate to have an executive IT position. But even if technology is not yet a big factor, can it be or should it be? To answer those questions, you might want to consider an occasional CIO.
As a mentor, what do you teach us?
Technology is a big place. We need to collaborate to get a handle on where to start, where you’re headed and how to navigate. Those things will guide what is appropriate and useful for you to spend time learning. There will always be a most important thing as we assemble the technology puzzle. It may not make a lot of sense in the beginning, but over time it starts to make sense.
Never heard the term before. What is it?
Where strategic plans are long range, typically in years, tactical plans are shorter term, more like months.
Examples of things in this category might be implementing a new system for a group, selecting a vendor or determining whether or not to change from desktop computers to laptops for everyone. The list is potentially endless. The key things are 1) near term, 2) pretty clearly defined and 3) there are decisions and planning involved.