Aug 28, 2023
Read Time: 5 min
Written by guest contributor Karin Tracy.
Technology powers your association, enabling you to connect with members remotely, provide engaging educational content, host events, and manage day-to-day internal tasks. To ensure your technology is serving your association effectively, evaluate it through a technology assessment.
Associations perform technology assessments for a variety of reasons. Organizations looking to grow may discover opportunities where technology can make their processes more scalable, while those looking to better manage their members may find strategies to improve their overall efficiency.
While each association's exact steps vary, technical assessments generally consist of four main stages, which this article will explore, starting with the discovery phase.
Associations conduct technology assessments when they believe there is a problem their technical strategy can be adjusted to solve. The first step of your technology assessment is focused on identifying these problems and establishing the overall scope of your technology assessment.
Here is an overview of how to achieve these two objectives:
During the discovery phase, ask open-ended questions about how team members routinely use your current technology, if there are any recurring pain points, and what process changes or new platforms they think could improve your current technology stack.
After meeting with your team members in the discovery phase, you will have a variety of interviews providing feedback on your software. Compile the notes you’ve collected to synthesize key problems and potential solutions in the analysis phase.
The analysis phase involves critically examining your current technology and using the feedback you gathered to answer key questions. Your questions will be unique to your association’s specific goals, but a few general questions to ask include:
In the analysis phase, get as specific as possible about what problems you need to solve and your plans to implement those solutions. The more details you have about your current technology, its uses, and its drawbacks, the more smoothly the development phase will go.
Having analyzed your assessment results, your team can now begin to develop a solution. If that solution is relatively straightforward, such as more purposefully leveraging features of your current software that have gone overlooked, the development phase will be short and primarily consist of checking in with team members to communicate your adjusted work processes.
However, if your analysis determines that new technology or assistance from a technology consultant is needed, this step will be much more research and planning-focused. Specifically, your technology assessment team will need to complete these steps:
During this phase, consider what questions stakeholders may ask to prepare for your presentation and ensure your solution is optimal. For instance, if you need to upgrade your association’s CRM, have reasons for choosing Salesforce over Blackbaud, what resources you’ll need to implement your new solution, and how your association will operate while transitioning systems.
Throughout the technology assessment, document your findings. This includes recording interviews with team members, reports on your current technology’s performance, research on potential solutions, and feedback from stakeholders.
Having this information ready will make compiling a report on your technology much easier when it is time to present your findings or share the status of your current technology with a consultant.
If you hire a consultant to help you complete your technology assessment, they can also assist with documentation. Fionta’s guide to finding a Salesforce partner emphasizes the value of working with one consultant long-term, and a consultant who helps take detailed notes about your technology will be able to easily start assisting with your solution after completing the technology assessment.
Keeping a record of this also creates a paper trail explaining how your technology assessment was completed and why you arrived at your conclusions. This information can be referred back for subsequent technology assessments to improve the process.
Regularly evaluating your association’s technology ensures your practices are up to date, competitive with similar organizations, and provide your members and staff with the tools they need. Work collaboratively with your team to identify problem areas in your technology and strategies that will help multiple teams achieve their goals.