Tech roles at nonprofits

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Tech roles and responsibilities (Lisa (facilitator) / Max / Ryan)

In nonprofits: Sometimes someone becomes the “accidental techie” - the body of knowledge is vast!

  • Tech Support
    • Someone should be holding tech support (but not necessarily solely responsible for solving)
    • Rule of thumb: It generally requires 1 hour per week per person for tech support
    • One solution: outsource tech support
    • Another solution: empower others to research it OR share your problem-solving skillsets to those who seem interested in addressing issues on their own
  • Tech needs & Individual tool management
    • If someone is good at something, they should be the one that does it (given that it’s written in their job description)
    • Periodically assessing the tools being used - can two be consolidated into one, etc,?
    • Designate an owner for each tool (maybe the person who uses it the most)
    • Keep an inventory (whether it’s in your password manager or elsewhere) with notes: who’s responsible for the tool
    • Offboarding process should include a passing the torch of knowledge
  • Documentation
    • It’s irresponsible not to have documentation
    • It may feel like no one reads it, but nails down organizational practices
    • Focus on the 95% of the tool/process usage (the edge-use cases don’t need as much focus)
    • Pretend you’re leaving next week - what do you want your replacement to know?
    • New people will read it and they have fresh eyes
    • Training new people is sometimes a good reason to update documentation (the trainees can even help you)
    • FAQs - can point people to resource if something is asked repeatedly
      • Example: “How do I set up my out of office message?”,
  • Planning, Implementation, Delegating
    • Shadowing is a valuable tool
    • Time/project management: blocks of time on your calendar specifically for projects (even if you have to later move it)
    • Ask yourself, “Is this really urgent?” or “Can it wait?” when receiving new requests, issues. Etc.,
    • Being interruptible (available) vs not - it takes time to refocus after interruptions
    • Taking a day “off” when you’re actually devoting time for non-interruptible projects
    • Orientation to organizational culture (part of onboarding process)
    • Communication channels - text versus call versus instant message versus email versus desk visits
    • Helps differentiate what’s urgent
    • Provides expected wait time for different types of responses
    • Expectation management


Notes: NTEN Technology Staffing Reports are worth exploring: Report page