New Executive Director IT Checklist

So you've just landed in the driver seat of a great nonprofit—congratulations! What better way to start the new year. You'll have plenty to focus on over the next several months, like delivering services, securing finances, and hiring the right people, but we're here to remind you that technology is one of the more important pieces of the puzzle and should be addressed within your first sixty days.

As a new or interim ED, what should you do?  How do you know if you have a problem? And, if you do, how do you solve it?  Here is a quick, four-step checklist to get you started.

√ Get the lay of the land

The first step is to find out just where your technology is.  Is technology at the top of the staff complaint list?  Unable to access your email from home?  Not clear where to go if your printer stops working?  This suggests that your new organization has a technology problem. You should plan a comprehensive review of your organization's IT situation and push it to the top of your priority list.

√ If it isn't broken, don’t fix it

If you and the staff have very few complaints related to technology, don’t rush to make any changes.  A smooth working technology environment is a beautiful thing and you shouldn’t be quick to disturb something that is isn’t broken.

√ Ask about the basics

Here are a few good questions to ask:

  1. Do you have sufficient internet bandwidth?
  2. Is there a redundant or backup access?
  3. How long since you renegotiated with your telecom provider?  Rates change and you might be able to renegotiate a better deal.
  4. Do you have a technology line item in your budget, particularly for hardware replacement?  If not, you should.  Equipment should be replaced on a rolling basis rather than all at once; the latter is cost prohibitive.
  5. How do you buy new hardware?  Does the office manager stop by Best Buy on his way home or do you have a procurement process where you look at competitive bids?
  6. Is your organization making use of TechSoup to get your software?  And, are you optimizing TechSoup?
  7. How long does it take to resolve a tech problem?  Some problems can be resolved immediately with the right kind of tech support provider.
  8. Speaking of support providers, how much are you paying your provider and what are they doing for you?  You will want to pull out that contract and take a close look at it.
  9. Among the most important questions—are you backing up your data? If so, how and with what frequency.

√ Get some help

If you are not sure where your organization stands with technology, then you might want to consider getting some outside help.  We often do technology environment assessments for incoming executives.   If you have a tech vendor, ask them for the most recent network health report.  Investing some resources in getting the right kind of help can be invaluable.

Congratulations on your new role! We know you'll do an amazing job helping this organization make our community a better place in which to live, and here’s to hoping you find that the technology is working smoothly.  If not, give us a call and we'll help—that's what we're here for.

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