Why You Need a Technology Planning Team
Why a team?
A technology planning team is a valuable way to ensure that the needs and expectations of all of the library's stakeholders can be met in the selection and implementation of technology. Stakeholders in a library would often include staff, board members, patrons and the community at large and would bring various levels of expertise and experience to the table. The team as a whole can help to ensure that the planning process looks at both immediate and "big picture" needs.
Using a team approach is also a way to create organizational acceptance and buy-in for projects. People like to be in the loop and it also helps to know how decisions are made and that they have some input in the process. Extending participation to stakeholders such as board members, who don't necessarily have daily involvement at the library, can help them to better understanding the need for funding and advocacy efforts.
In addition to helping develop the plan, overseeing its implementation, and evaluating its progress, your team will likely be responsible for:
- Attending regularly scheduled meetings
- Researching potential technology solutions
- Seeking outside resources as appropriate
- Communicating progress to the rest of the organization
It will be very tempting to just assign the responsibility of developing the technology plan to the person who knows the most about technology in the library. A team still needs a leader, and this person could certainly fill that role and also be the principle writer of the technology plan. But allowing them to develop the entire plan on their own isn’t the most beneficial option for the library.
Who should be on the team?
This will vary depending on the size and nature of your library, but we recommend forming a team of three to seven members, with representatives from different stakeholder groups. Having a team that is too large starts to get challenging logistically and makes finding consensus more difficult.
When deciding who should serve on the team, here are a few people that you might want to consider including. You can always start with a smaller core team and have them think about long term needs and who else would be valuable on the team:
- A technology specialist
- A board member
- A fiscal advisor/officer
- The library director
- "Front line" program staff (i.e. end users of technology in your library)
- An established and involved volunteer
- Someone who is excited and/or knowledgeable about technology
- Someone who is a technology novice
- Someone who is skeptical of how technology will be used in the library
- Someone who can keep the group on task and facilitate effectively
What makes the team successful?
Libraries of all sizes, not just small ones, struggle with getting a group together and working effectively. Smaller libraries can conceivably have a smaller pool of staff, volunteers and board members to choose from, but they can still have very skilled members with valuable input. Teams of all sizes can benefit from the following guidelines from TechSoup:
- Members hold each other accountable for making progress and completing individual tasks on time.
- Each meeting has a facilitator, a minute-taker, and a clear agenda.
- Minutes and progress from the team are regularly shared with staff members in a timely manner.
- Meetings are held regularly enough to foster progress on the plan; a "sacred" time ensures that meetings are planned for and well attended.
Another part of the successful team is remembering to share the information back with the other staff or board members that aren't part of the technology planning team. Be sure to share the results of the team's work back to these other groups so that they see the progress that the team is making and can better understand what the library is doing.
Be prepared to adapt
Adaptability is important! The team leader should be responsible for leading the making sure that the team evaluates its progress and how the team process is working. Some questions to ask:
- Is the team accomplishing the goals?
- Is there a gap in the representation of the team?
- Are people doing their part?
- What part of the process could be improved?
- What part of the process could be removed?
In the end, the team will help to bring a well-rounded approach to the technology and help the library move smoothly into the future.
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