It’s something of a truism to say that there are lots of demands on managers of community organisations. An indicative list might include things like service delivery leadership, overseeing staffing and financials, attending to the board, reporting and risk management, supporting fundraising and community engagement.
It’s little wonder that managers shun adding anything else to an already demanding role. How could anyone possibly add anything else on top?
Attendees at the Connecting Communities events participating in sessions run by Andrew Mahar, Infoxchange Australia’s founding Director, were challenged to get control of their ICT by starting to plan. Working alongside graphic facilitator Tracey Ezard, Andrew introduced the MeasureIT framework that has been used in Victoria for more than five years.
A fundamental, underlying rationale for undertaking planning needs to be accepted before getting started: becoming digitally proficient will reap rewards for individual staff, the organisation as a whole, and ultimately people receiving support or services.
An aim of the planning framework is to take the pain out of getting started. Groups are encouraged to take the bits of a plan that suits their organisation’s situation and run with it. It does look like big or small organisations could equally well benefit.
It’s not about rigidly applying a complex and technical model that is reliant on outside help. Anyone familiar with business or strategy planning is well equipped to give it a go.
As well considering what boxes and wires and organisations have and need, MeasureIT puts a strong emphasis on understanding skill levels of staff. A detailed ICT competency audit can help identify skill gaps. Andrew says there are all too often assumptions made about the skill level of staff. Inadequate training and support is often a cause of low levels of digital proficiency.
Not everyone attending was won over, but many people commented they were ready to take the approach further. They could see benefits for improving quality of IT services available to staff, and using it as a way of to advocating for the resources required to get good at using ICT.
Thinking back to a similar session I attended in Bendigo last year (see my blog post “On the road with iTaGNO”), I can see how an awareness raising session is just the beginning of the journey. It’s important to be able to link with others and access refresher help with the planning, alongside actually making progress with strategic priorities. Results count, otherwise planning is any empty gesture. It takes commitment to become more digitally proficient as well as time.
Whether people will follow-up after they left the workshops is another question. The imperatives of everyday work demands can mean the important gets squeezed out by the urgent.
Anyone who wants to share how they’re going with ICT planning in their organisation is welcome to share any thoughts here.
Here are links to a iTaNGO suite of planning tools to get your organisation started with ICT planning: