Unit 8: Technology Planning

Why Technology Planning?

This week we reviewed a number of articles on technology planning. Most of the articles dealt with technology planning in libraries but many also dealt with project management of technology projects.

Technology plans need to be written by libraries to meet the requirements to participate in the E-Rate program overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

Technology planning is also good practice for a number of reasons. Technology plans according to Tips and Tools for Technology Planning:

  • Create a path to the future
  • Establish expectations
  • Fulfill state/federal/grantor requirements

See http://www.techsoup.org/community/events-webinars/tips-and-tools-2010-07-20

What can go Wrong?

Brenda Whittaker’s article examined why information technology projects failed. The article “examined the results of a survey questionnaire that was sent to Canada’s 1,450 leading public and private institutions to find the causes of IT project failure.” The survey was conducted in 1997.The three most common reasons for project failure identified by the survey are “poor project planning, a weak business case, and a lack of top management involvement and support.” Other findings from the survey stated that “projects fail more often because of schedule overruns rather than budget overruns, many projects can fail because they use unproven technology and poor estimates or weak definitions of requirements at the project planning stage also contribute to project failure.”

Eric Chabrow’s article is also a fascinating look at why government information technology projects fail. One of the factors he examines is how government information technology projects “requires ITstrategists to base decisions on hard-to-predict technology trend.” Libraries are not immune. Many libraries, for instance, would have not been able to predict how Google search could impact their services in the first decade of the 21st century.

I have been involved in a number of  technology projects in an academic library. Many issues were caused by the differences between the information technology culture and the library culture. These difficulties resulted in a lack of understanding on management’s part of what implementing a new technology involves. The project deadlines did not include time for the possible delays caused by the implementation of a new technology such as converting the library website to a Drupal based library website. The “business case” in this instance was the provision of better library services which did occur but at a big cost. Some of the issues of estimating project deadlines were also due to the lack of an information technology background on the part of library management. Some libraries may be able to succeed. See how Sacramento Public Library developed a technology strategy to bridge the gap between public services librarians and information technology (IT) staff at http://www.webjunction.org/documents/webjunction/Case_Study_Creating_a_Technology_Plan_that_Worked_.html

The New WebJunction Is Live Now.

The New WebJunction Is Live Now. (Photo credit: libraryman)

Best Articles on Technology Planning

Robert Dugan in his 2002 article quoted John Hitt in an Educause review to argue that every higher education institution should have a technology plan. Dugan also mentioned than many libraries had not developed information technology plans and gave a comprehensive overview of the technology planning process while linking it to a vision of what technology could do in a library. As Dugan emphasized the importance of technology in a library, I am gaining more appreciation for the necessity of being trained in areas like networking. Having an understanding of networking technologies would be a great asset if I was on a technology planning committee for a library.

Stephanie Gerding and Pam MacKellar 2006 in their article on applying for technology grants deal with applying for grants especially for the Universal Service Fund Education Rates (E-rate) program for schools and libraries. Both authors have extensive experience in training and applying for library grants. Gerding worked with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation library recipients. The article has a list of library technology and funding resources as well as suggestions for technology planning.

More details about technology planning including justifying the value of technology planning for libraries and nonprofits can be found at http://www.techsoup.org and for libraries at Webjunction http://www.webjunction.org Examples of technology plans can be found at http://www.webjunction.org/explore-topics/tech-planning/documents.html I found the Connecticut State Library technology plan  checklist particularly useful at http://www.webjunction.org/documents/connecticut/Connecticut_State_Library_Checklist_for_Technology_Plans.html

See Stephanie Gerding’s and Pam MacKellar’s blog on library grants at http://librarygrants.blogspot.com/

Articles Referred To:

Chabrow, Eric. State of the Union. InformationWeek, Nov 28, 2005.

Dugan, Robert. Information Technology Plans. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, v(28)n(3) 2002 pp. 152-156

Gerding, S. and MacKellar, P. Applying for Technology Grants. Computers in Libraries, July/August 2006 pp. 7-8, 54-60.

Whittaker, Brenda. What went wrong? Unsuccessful information technology projects. Information Management & Computer Security v(7)n(1) 1999 pp.23-30

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