Technology Resolutions for the New Year
By Peter Campbell, Senior Strategic Consultant, Marcum Technology
It’s 2020. Shouldn’t our technology be much, much cooler than this? Per the Saturday morning cartoons that I grew up with, flying cars and jetpacks were supposed to be everywhere by now, along with robotic housekeepers and colonies on Mars. We have the Roombas, at least! The truth is that we have seen great advancements in technology, just not necessarily the ones that Hanna and Barbera said we would. If your office tech has more of a Flintstones feel than a Jetsons shine, there are a few things that you can resolve to do to make the 2020’s feel more like the promising future that we grew up with.
Resolve to retire your file servers.
File servers are soooo 1990. With the advanced collaboration features of cloud-based platforms like Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, and more, you can securely store and manage your critical documents and work product without the pain, cost, and risk of managing information on your own servers. With hosting platforms like Azure and AWS, you can take the few legacy applications that you might still depend on out of your server room as well. Maintaining your own servers is not always secure, particularly if you use tools like Windows Remote Desktop to access them from outside of the office. The major cloud services store all data on redundant systems in geographically diverse data centers, while your server could malfunction and leave you scrambling for the backup tapes. Cloud-based applications are easy to access from multiple locations and devices. And, let’s face it, that server room could be better used as a break room.
Resolve to send less email
Our inboxes are the cluttered hallway tables of our lives, where everything is dropped. Sending email is very convenient, but organizing it is not. There are better ways to communicate online. Newer communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams combine casual messaging with video and integrate well with assorted document management systems and project management tools. Using one of these as a project or department-based hub for communication can ease the burden on your inbox and enhance your ability to collaborate. In most cases, these tools do not fully replace email, but they move a lot of the unimportant chatter to a system that sorts the communication into “channels.” This allows you to prioritize the critical channels (“Donor Relations” and “Program Priorities”) and ignore the less important ones (“Holiday Party” and “Cat Memes”) instead of having all of these messages appear in your inbox with equal priority and the requirement that you file or delete each one.
Resolve to develop (or refresh) a Strategic Technology Plan
What is more futuristic than having a plan for what’s ahead? A good strategic technology plan is more than just an outline of what to install when, because the development of the plan involves thinking strategically about what you do to accomplish your mission and how technology can support that. To see 20/20 in 2020 we need to move beyond the idea of technology as evolved typewriters that you simply budget to upgrade or replace. If your work revolves around relationships (as much nonprofit work does), do you have a Constituent Relationship Management system (CRM) and are you using it to maximize those relationships and analyze your impact? Are you taking advantage of online collaboration software, or are you still emailing your partners and clients redlined documents to modify? Is everything you need to inform a critical call accessible from your smartphone, or do you have to drive to the office in order to be in the know? Envision a future where technology works for you, and develop a plan to get you there. Those flying cars aren’t going to build themselves (although it is looking like they’ll drive themselves).
If you have any questions about this article or how Marcum can assist with technology assessments, security audits, document management projects, cloud migrations, and other strategic technology needs, please contact Peter Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: all of the software specifically referenced in this article is available for free and/or at discounted pricing for 501(c)(3) nonprofits).