Chapter 2: Knowing What You Need
You and your staff are the only ones who can identify the technology needs of your organization.
Who Should Do Your Assessment?
One of the common mistakes many people make is to assume they can't carry out a needs assessment because they lack an understanding of technology. On the contrary, individuals involved in the daily operations of an organization are the only ones who can define requirements because they are the ones who are most familiar with their organization's functions, current needs, and goals for the future. They must define their needs before solutions can be developed. You may want to bring someone into the organization who is able to explain what is possible. Also, staff may want to visit a "technology rich" site to make some comparisons.
It is important to include as many people as possible in your discussions. After the equipment is installed and the wires connected, you will want to make sure that you have gotten "buy in" from the staff. Otherwise, people might not use the technology. If technology is being discussed at a school, for example, the school technology committee should include representatives from every grade level or department.
An important step in defining your technology needs is to look at the big picture for your organization. The needs you identify may be just a small portion of the technology needs of your entire organization. If that is true, it makes sense for you to look for a solution that meets all, or nearly all, of your organization's needs. This takes coordination and cooperation, but the result will be better than if all your separate needs are dealt with independently. Just keep in mind that finding a solution that meets all of your organization's technology needs may compete with other potential uses of the organization's scarce resources. Start by requesting a copy of the organization's Technology Plan. (If a Technology Plan has not yet been developed, then it should be!) By doing so, you will know what resources already exist and what is planned for the future.
Ideally, the set of needs you identify is the same as the needs identified by other similar organizations. If so, you can look to them for advice and assistance. This book may help you find some of those organizations.