Part 3: Defining Organizational Goals and Requirements

This is my favorite part of the discussion. Now I get to say this: Organizational goals and requirements don’t involve technology.

Yep, that’s right. Before you can define the role of technology within your strategy, you have to know where the organization is going, and be able to project out over the next few years at least. Everyone says it, but then a meeting will happen and voila, folks talk about what technology they need now, rather than talking about what they will need to improve their business over time. If this sounds like your organization, you’re not alone.

Why? Well, we don’t generally think about, or know how to speak the language of other departments like finance, or program and organizational development. (If you have not done so already, read part II of this series.) Folks in these departments need to be apart of the conversation, but they are often busy trying to meet their own internal performance metrics, so they may not have the capacity or feel inclined to take that meeting.

What is most challenging during my consulting engagements is when I find that the organization does not have well articulated goals at the strategic and management level. I’m not a board or an executive consultant so even I struggle with developing a strategy when my client doesn’t have goals. It doesn’t mean the show ends, but it does require additional effort and time to develop a strategic IT solution that is sustainable, and will generate real impact for our client.

Under these circumstances it’s good to reset expectations. Certainly there has to be buy-in from the leadership team to work on a strategic plan. And by plan I mean something as brief as one or two pages. If it is too extensive or ambitious, it will be difficult to manage and even more difficult to execute. As an Executive Director, you may even find that you need to bring in an outside consultant to work with the board on developing a strategy. And this is a good thing, because you’ll need their support as the plan develops and reveals real fiscal implications for your organization.