It's hard to believe that next weekend is the official start
of the summer season in the US.
Here in the south, the biggest indicator that vacation season is just around
the corner is a $ .25/gallon rise in gas prices over the last several
weeks...ugh. In fact, this is a good reminder that we cannot become complacent
and that we are truly dealing with a new reality. We have to become creative
and look at new ways to get our jobs done at a lower monetary and resource
Hard times require creativity to get all of your major goals
accomplished in a timely manner. This month's RoadMap is a discussion of
options for you to consider when trying to complete important Technology
projects when funds are tight.
Hurricane season begins on June 1. This month's Tech
Tutor column contains a link to the national hurricane preparedness website. I
have also included a link to the Pandemic Flu information website, since this
is a current national concern.
Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and a safe and happy summer!!
RoadMap: How to Accomplish Technical Projects when Funds are Tight
Many small businesses and non-profit organizations do not
have in-house expertise to do technical support and software development
projects. In good times, they hire the consultants they need to complete these
projects. But what do you do when funds are tight?
Some organizations use volunteers to complete their projects. Utilizing the
skills of highly trained unemployed or under-employed technology workers can be
a win-win in the current economy. Today the average non-profit organization has
funding challenges at a time when people are most in need. The unemployed
professional, is highly trained and is accustomed to going to work every day,
but is now left with time on his hands, is questioning his self-worth and is in
great need of having some structure in his life. He needs to be needed and he
needs to feel successful so that he can ace his job interviews and become
employed again. Your projects will also allow him to add meaningful experience
to his resume which will add to his appeal to future employers.
Student interns can also be a source of skilled technical assistance. Students
are eager for an opportunity to use the skills that they are learning in
school. Since they are still students, they have access to school faculty and
their classmates to help them develop solutions for your projects. Most
importantly, student interns need experience to land their first job out of
college which they will gain from working with your organization.
If you decide to use either volunteers or student interns for your technical
projects, it is essential that you follow a strict methodology to ensure that
the project is successful. The project must be defined clearly, goals and
products must be documented, and a schedule must be developed. You must also test
the skills of each new technology worker on a small test project to ensure that
they have the skills you need and to ensure that they fit into your
If you cannot find volunteer technicians who have the skills you need
for an important project, or your project is too complex to give to a student
intern, don't hesitate to discuss your project with a technology company.
Explain your needs to them along with your financial constraints. A
professional firm may be able to help you develop a less expensive solution to
your problem or they may be able to create an alternate approach which will
allow you to get what you need in a way you never anticipated. SmartSite
Technology has helped many diverse organizations in this way. For additional information, contact us.
- Brainstorm with your staff to
identify technical projects that need to be done to further your mission.
Think about projects you would undertake if you could get a grant to
hire a technical consultant for two weeks, for two months, or for six
months. The results of this brainstorming session will identify high-value
technical projects that your unpaid technical worker could do for you.
- Identify several small test
projects that utilize the same technical skill sets needed to complete
your larger projects. If you do not have any small projects, break one of
the large projects into several short phases. Your goal is to identify
small segments of work to give to prospective technical workers to test
their skills and their fit within your organization.
- Involve your entire staff in
identifying technical resources in the community who may be interested in
working on technical projects for the organization. Contact local colleges
about students who may be interested in an intern assignment or to
identify classes where intern placement opportunities are sought.
- Approach the identified
individuals to find out if they are interested in doing technical projects
for you. Explain the test project you need completed and your time frame
for the completion of the work. Do not discuss future, more complex
projects at this time.
- Assign one staff member to
supervise your new technical worker. If the worker later undertakes
another project for the organization, a new supervisor may be assigned,
but he or she should have just one supervisor at a time.
- Set up a meeting with your
perspective worker and the staff member who will supervise the project
work. Go over written specifications for the project, project milestones
and project schedule, and expected products or outcomes. Create a project
plan to be followed, including completion dates for milestones. Be
prepared to answer detailed questions about the project at this meeting.
Also discuss the procedures you will follow to solve any problems which arise during the project.
- At the end of the meeting
have the Technical worker and the project supervisor sign off on the
project plan. Although this process seems quite formal, it helps to ensure
that everyone involved in the project is on the same page and that each
understands his or her role in the project. Technical people will
appreciate this formality, as this is how they are used to working on the
- Handle problems quickly. If
you sense any problems, don't wait for the situation to
get better on its own. Become involved early to prevent problems from
escalating. Make sure that you follow your problem-solving procedures to
resolve issues experienced during the project.
- If you are pleased with the
results of the test project, discuss your more complex technical
needs with your technical worker to determine whether he or she is
interested in doing additional work for your organization.
- Repeat this procedure for
each additional assignment made to your technical resource.
|SmartSite Technology serves as a virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations. We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations.
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Copyright 2009 SmartSite Technology. All rights reserved.
Useful Preparedness Information
Next week, May 24 through 30 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hurricane Preparedness website
for information about how to prepare your home and your business when a storm threatens your area.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created a Pandemic Flu Information website
which contains useful information about current flu conditions across the globe. It also contains information about how to prepare your business and family to weather a Pandemic outbreak in your community.
Bookmark these sites so that you can access them quickly should conditions warrant.