Book Chapter Opportunity

I've actually submitted a chapter proposal to the NTEN Tech for Good Guide. I am hopeful that this will actually be accepted and my thesis work will have a greater impact in the nonprofit sector. The decision on the chapter will be made by February 8th, so I'll keep you posted if anything does come through. Cross your fingers for me!

Here was my submission:

Introduction of Key Concepts Technology is known to have a positive impact on the economy and productivity of organizations in the for-profit sector. Although it is complex and varies across industries, IT enables and contributes to growth. Technology gains have allowed for-profits to keep a competitive edge over their rivals, develop new products and services, realize substantial increases in output and productivity and ultimately save money.

Firms achieved productivity gains and savings with IT implementation by incorporating IT changes in work practices, implementing strategic planning, improving products and services. The correlation between implementation of IT and increased productivity and efficiencies in for-profits has been well documented. Successful IT projects – those producing increased efficiencies - have led to improved “bottom lines” and stock market gains.

Despite these obvious benefits, organizations must integrate the plans with a long-term vision in mind. When organizations commit to IT infrastructure, they must be ready for the added costs not just in the short term, but over the long haul. Updating, upgrading and changing the infrastructure to keep machines running smoothly are extremely important. Updating, upgrading and changing the infrastructure to keep the machines running smoothly is very important. Additionally, investments in organizational learning and human capital are crucial to the success of IT projects.

Barriers and Obstacles Components of success in IT projects for for-profits - investment in human capital and infrastructure - are often in conflict with the core values of the nonprofit whose primary objective is to support an issue for non-commercial purposes. Also, it is much more difficult to define the bottom line in a nonprofit organization. There are fiscal savings that occur, but nonprofits are not necessarily focused on the dollars; sometimes, it is just about feeding more people or getting more children off the streets. These bottom lines, which are mission-based, are far more challenging to measure.

Nonprofits are at a clear disadvantage in achieving efficiencies and productivities typically attained by for-profits. Without clear strategy, investment in human capital skill, and investment in infrastructure, just throwing more money or resources at an IT project will not necessarily help it become more successful. Providing more training to staff without the related infrastructure investment (or vice versa) does little good. So, the effective bottom line for a nonprofit remains an elusive metric – one that is very different than in the for-profit world.

Critical Success Factors Although some investments in IT decrease productivity in some nonprofits, this decline is not directly attributed to IT itself. Rather it is why, how, and which technology was incorporated that affects the productivity. There is growing support that the key to increasing productivity is selecting the right projects and making the right investments.

Case Study Nokomis Foundation established the Women’s Technology Consortium (WTC) in 2000 and was designed to build the technological capacity of individual organizations. The WTC also helps participants enhance their ability to collaborate, network, communicate, and advocate with peer organizations. The members of the WTC attend facilitated monthly meetings that provide technical assistance, training, and networking opportunities. Nokomis Foundation provides staff support, meeting space and funding.

These organizations will form the basis of three or four main case studies on the impact of IT investments. The cases will help the reader ascertain which IT investments enhance or diminish nonprofit organization’s productivity and effectiveness. Each of these organizations will be interviewed extensively and the information that form the Request for Proposals (RFPs) sent to Nokomis Foundation will be used as the basis of the data collection.