Writing a technology Plan
A technology plan can be written in a number of different formats. Below I have worked out an outline that works for me. Weather it is you as an individual or a team of stake holders distributing the work it is useful to have a high level outline to follow.
Technology plans are typically written for your specific business unit but they are often read by people not actively involved in the technology planning process. They provide general information about your business unit such as location, groups within your department, budgets, basic history and other pertinent information related to any recent projects or upgrades that are to occur.
Also provide basic information about how the technology plan was developed. Who was included in creating the technology plan, why you have a plan or if there are any large projects that the business unit is embarking on.
Mission and Technology Vision Statement
Include your companies mission statement, the mission statement of your business unit and a Technology Vision Statement. The business units goals and objectives you are creating should focus on meeting the mission statements and technology vision.
The Technology Vision Statement should reflect the interest of various stakeholders and paint a picture of how your business unit will function with the mission driven use of the technology. It can also be the ideal scenario for the technology for your business or where you want the business to be in the future.
If your business unit does not already have a Technology Vision Statement below are some quick questions to create a Technology Assessment that can be referred to when creating the Technology Plan.
-What is working in each department within the business unit?
-Where are the opportunities for growth within the business?
-If resources were no concern, what would be different?
-What would technology and training do for the staff?
-What would technology do for the clients?
An executive summary is not necessarily needed for a technology plan. However if your Technology Plan is longer than 4 to 6 pages then you should create a summary highlighting major goals or initiatives. Depending on the overall length of the Technology plan the Executive Summary can be included in the introduction or overview section.
Background and current state of technology
The background and current state of technology is where you will include information from your technology assessment. Provide information about how technology is currently being used and keep it as brief as possible.
Be sure to include any major technology projects that are currently being worked on.
-Where is the technology being used
-How is it integrated into every day to day use
-Are there any strengths or weaknesses
-What is the current level of staff expertise?
-How is technology being used by patrons?
-Include a brief inventory of current relevant technology being used
Goals and Objectives
Goals and Objectives are the direction that the business unit will take to maintain and expand services to clients and staff using or being the recipients of the technology. This can be one of the more challenging part of writing a technology plan, but stating the goals and objectives your business unit will now know which direction it is headed, what path to take and when it will happen. That’s the plan anyway.
When thinking about your goals review your business units technology assessment. Are there any weaknesses in the assessment? These could be things such as a lack of basic technology knowledge by staff, out dated computers or computer systems, slow network connections, or not having appropriate or up to date software. Try to anticipate future needs, staffing levels and use of resources.
Be sure to make goals and objectives realistic. Are they something that can be accomplished within the given time frame? Does your staff have the skills to perform the task, or the time and resources to learn needed skills? More importantly does your business unit have the resources to accomplish the goal, such as money or staff-time?
Understand that goals and objectives are not the same thing.
Goals are broadly written and are driven by the business units technology vision statement, but have more defined intentions. They are directed towards specific groups of people or topics and are not connected to a timeline. They can include maintaining or enhancing current services and be part of a larger business unit goal, or strictly technology oriented. For example increasing the overall storage available is a larger business unit goal, but would include upgrading servers and network access. Whereas, upgrading artist computers are a technology oriented goal.
Objectives are the specific steps a business unit will take to accomplish the goals. Objectives should be measurable, include specific timetables for action, information about who will be performing actions, budget information and can include specific technology needed to meet the goal.
Goals and Objectives should be SMART:
Specific – clearly state what needs to be done.
Measurable – refer to specific evaluation measurements to gauge success.
Attainable – make sure there are sufficient resources (time, money, staff, etc.) to achieve goals and objectives.
Relevant – Do the objectives support the goal, and the goal meet the library’s mission and technology vision statement?
Time bound – When will each objective be completed or measured/evaluated?
Technology plans must include an evaluation process.
Even with great goals and objectives, without an evaluation plan there will be no way to see if the goals and objectives are being met, and if they are not, what action needs to be taken to resolve any issues.
The evaluation section of the technology plan should discuss how often evaluation of the plan will take place. Plan evaluation should be ongoing , but specific time periods that it will definitely be looked at for example monthly or quarterly. An easy way to evaluate the technology plan regularly is to integrate it into everyday business unit functions such as staff or leadership meetings.
Next you will need to determine how the goals and objectives will be evaluated. Some examples include: monitoring the use of services; measuring the productivity or intended automation of a workflow, for example staff can push through more data because their computers are faster or the automation is working as intended; Completion of training by staff, for example a certain number of staff attend technology related courses by a certain date; outcome based, your business unit has replaced all of its old machines by a certain date; survey and statistics.
After the evaluation of the goals and objectives, what actions will be taken if they haven’t been met?
Finally include information about when the technology plan will be reviewed and revisited in its entirety and who will be involved with its evaluation.
Finally include any appendices if needed. This can include your business units technology inventory or timeline charts for meeting and evaluation goals and objectives.