Technology Decision Makers

last person joined: 21 days ago 

A group for those in nonprofit IT decision-making roles to connect with peers and share best practices. This Technology Decision Makers group is for nonprofit IT or MIS Directors/Managers as well as CIOs and CTOs to connect with their peers and share best practices. Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to: hardware and software management, product reviews, emerging technology, best practices, collaborating effectively with other departments, and management conundrums. Membership is restricted to IT staff at nonprofit organizations.

Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

  • 1.  Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 07, 2019 15:54
    I've found some old posts related to this, but would love to hear from others on technology staffing & org structure. I hope others might find this helpful too. If you're willing to share, you can copy the bulleted questions here:

    • How many total staff at your organization?:
    • How many staff work in technology (IT, programs, operations, data, etc)?:
    • What are their roles?
    • Who do they report to?
    • Do you employ contractors/firms/third parties for technology work?
      • If so, how many?
      • What are their roles?
    • Anything else you'd like to share?
    Thanks for sharing!

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    Joe Bobman
    (pronouns: he/him/his)
    Technology & Engagement Manager
    Food Forward
    Los Angeles, CA
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  • 2.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 08, 2019 08:16
    Hey Joe, NTEN did a staffing survey in 2016 that you may find relevant https://www.nten.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Staffing_Report2016_v12.pdf

    We often help our clients with benchmarking staffing among their peers. By using closer comparisons, we're able to get more relevant insights. If your organization is looking for advice on staffing for data and IT, please reach out to me, http://calendly.com/sage70/30min

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    Isaac Shalev
    http://www.sage70.com
    Stamford CT
    @Sage70
    isaac@sage70.com
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  • 3.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 08, 2019 09:34
    • How many total staff at your organization?  25
    • How many staff work in technology (IT, programs, operations, data, etc)?:  2
    • What are their roles?  Managing Director, Technology (me) and Web Project Manager (8 websites)
    • Who do they report to?  CFO
    • Do you employ contractors/firms/third parties for technology work?  Yes
      • If so, how many?  Varies, but between 2-4 companies at a time
      • What are their roles?  SEO, web development, security, tech support
    • Anything else you'd like to share?  Currently looking for a great IT services/support partner... Suggestions welcome!


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    Annette Fowler
    Managing Director, Technology
    National Endowment for Financial Education
    Denver, CO
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  • 4.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 08, 2019 09:50
    Joe,

    The best single resource I know that can provide answers to many of your questions is the NTEN IT Staffing and Investments report.

    The last one of which I'm aware was the 10th annual report which was released almost exactly 2 years ago (if anyone from NTEN is reading this - please correct me if there is a more recent version).

    THE 10TH ANNUAL NONPROFIT TECHNOLOGY STAFFING AND INVESTMENTS REPORT

    Another NTEN resource you could try is their updated Accelerate assessment and benchmarking tool.

    To try to provide some answers for you (I've worked with thousands of nonprofits and seen every conceivable iteration of tech management structure), I'll provide some observations below with this caveat - these are my observations and opinions, subject to all my biases and not supported by any hard data.

    1) IT staff, whether internal or outsourced, typically report to finance and/or operations at the VAST majority of nonprofits I have worked with.

    2) The roles vary, but the first IT role is usually an accidental techie / IT manager type with basic infrastructure and helpdesk responsibilities. I'm seeing this change - as that function is increasingly outsourced or insufficient and the expectation and need is for a more strategic and analytic capability in IT. Someone who perhaps be a Salesforce Admin, Data Analyst, Trainer, etc. Nonprofits are often looking for "unicorns" who can do all of it at a high level for less than $80K / year and they find these folks about as often as they find actual unicorns.

    3) Almost all nonprofits are hiring contractors and 3rd party firms for SOME aspect, whether it's for Salesforce, Cybersecurity, Helpdesk, Monitoring, vCIO/vCTO and more. Precisely what areas of IT get contracted out varies WIDELY.

    Last thought. The organizations that I think are doing best are asking these questions regularly. Where are our in-house strengths? Where are our gaps? What are our options for filling those gaps? What are we missing?

    The smart organizations are not doggedly pursuing best practices for the sake of it, they are working to understand what the best practices are, seeing if there is consensus, seeing how it applies to their situation and then making the best decisions they can with that information. Rinse, repeat, iterate, improve.

    Hope that's helpful.

    -JP



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    Joshua Peskay
    Vice President
    RoundTable Technology
    joshua@roundtabletechnology.com
    www.roundtabletechnology.com
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  • 5.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 10, 2019 15:34
    This is an awesome post. Especially the part:

    "Last thought. The organizations that I think are doing best are asking these questions regularly. Where are our in-house strengths? Where are our gaps? What are our options for filling those gaps? What are we missing?"

    This is pretty much the mantra for making IT related staffing decisions.

    Building IT systems, processes and knowledge, either through building expertise in-house, or from outsourcing, is a vital component of building organizational capacity.

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    Medha Nanal
    Strategic Data/Database Consultant for Nonprofits (Fundraising, Operations, Programs)
    www.topcloudconsult.com
    medhananal@topcloudconsult.com
    650.600.9374
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  • 6.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 08, 2019 13:42
    Hello All:

    First, to answer most of the questions:
    * Ten folks - small staff
    * Three in IT;
    Two more and the director are "highly skilled" but not "IT"
    * The hierarchy is very fluid as in many small non-profits
    * Yes, we outsource the stuff we can't manage safely.

    Anything else...

    The idea that non-profits (NPOs) don't, or can't afford good technical staff isn't entirely true. In talking with others, I find it extraordinary that we have even one IT position, much less the 3-5 people we actually have. And when I have to explain what an "accidental techie" is, most people nod their heads and smirk like old-timers. They get the joke!

    One of the mantras in our office is that there needs to be two or more staff qualified to manage a function/responsibility/in-house task or we should probably outsource it. In the military, it's described as a "two-person-policy." For the rest of us. The reasoning usually starts with, "If you get hit by a truck tomorrow..."

    So, I would think that lots of NPOs look for highly qualified - even over qualified - staff because they know that the "Hats of Responsibility" get passed around based on those skills rather than the actual hierarchy of supervision.


    --
    Peace

    DJ
    Information Technician
    (SysAdmin, Webmaster, DBA, Speaker2Software & Tech Support)
    Houston, TX



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  • 7.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 09, 2019 08:12
    Love that 2 person or outsource it policy idea!  Having been a team of one in most of my jobs, and having had to plan for multiple coworkers to be out (work trips, maternity leave, medical) or transition planning when people leave, I wish there had been a more formal approach to making sure there wasn't any key operational function with a single point of failure.  And definitely a number of time where it would have been worth outsourcing because it takes a staff member (who is not as experienced in it) much longer to do and there is an opportunity cost to asking people to do things that are not their strengths.  (There are reasons to do that, but lack of planning and strategic decision-making aren't among them.)  Honestly, I've learned a lot from getting to partner with vendors where they took the lead but were also willing to teach me so I could maintain things on my own once they got us over the bigger hurdles. 



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  • 8.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 09, 2019 20:12
    Thank you all so much for your input & for sharing!!! The NTEN Survey was incredibly helpful, and I really appreciate all of your additional info & advice. I'll go ahead and share since I started this.

    • How many total staff at your organization?: 30
    • How many staff work in technology (IT, programs, operations, data, etc)?: 1.5 - 2
    • What are their roles?: Technology & Engagement Manager, Facilities Supervisor, Data & Design Coordinator (hah, that's graphic design, not technical design)
    • Who do they report to? split between Communications, General Ops, and Development teams
    • Do you employ contractors/firms/third parties for technology work?
      • If so, how many? - 3
      • What are their roles? web development, backend development, CRM development
    • Anything else you'd like to share? We're in the middle of long-term strategy planning, which is why I'm asking all these questions. Really appreciate all of your responses!!


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    Joe Bobman
    (pronouns: he/him/his)
    Technology & Engagement Manager
    Food Forward
    Los Angeles, CA
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  • 9.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 16, 2019 14:19
    How many total staff at your organization?
    About 45.

    How many staff work in technology (IT, programs, operations, data, etc)? What are their roles?
    6. Our tech staffing has been a bit of an evolution, especially over the last couple of years. But we have 2 people in the IT team as well as 4 additional system admins/points of contact for our big systems (grant making, finance, HR, SmartSheet). The additional people are cross functional/matrix-y and I'd say aren't full-time techies. We meet as a systems project team once a week.

    Who do they report to?
    Since we're spread out, it's a few different people: COO, CFO, Director of Operations, Senior Grants Manager. We're mostly all under the operations umbrella in our org.

    Do you employ contractors/firms/third parties for technology work?
    We hire developers and consultants for really specific technical needs, like when we transitioned to SharePoint. I think we have 2 right now - one still for SharePoint and another for web development. Our communications department is looking for an SEO consultant.

    Anything else you'd like to share?
    Like I said, our staffing has been a bit of an evolution. But I really like current cross-functional structure. Even though we each administer different systems, there is often overlap in skills needed so we learn from each other. I find the learning bit really important since most of us do not have a technical background. People also provide support to projects outside of their particular system. And there are numerous projects that involve multiple departments, so this group helps by having natural touch points and keeping everyone informed.

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    Keisha Carr (pronouns: she/her/hers)
    Business Analyst
    Bainum Family Foundation
    Bethesda, MD
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  • 10.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted May 17, 2019 09:49
    How many total staff at your organization?: 215
    How many staff work in technology (IT, programs, operations, data, etc)?:2
    What are their roles? IT Director and desktop support
    Who do they report to? CEO
    Do you employ contractors/firms/third parties for technology work?If so, how many?
    What are their roles? We outsource a lot of stuff (phones, firewalls, etc.) and bring in contractors for projects that are either too big for us or for which we don't have the skill sets (website build, O365 conversion, etc.)

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    Colin Boyle
    Step Up Suncoast
    Sarasota, FL
    cboyle@manateecaa.org
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  • 11.  RE: Technology Staffing at Nonprofits

    Posted Jun 04, 2019 09:40
    • How many total staff at your organization?: 95
    • How many staff work in technology (IT, programs, operations, data, etc)?:5
    • What are their roles? IT Director, plus 4 software developers
    • Who do they report to? Developers report to IT Director, IT Director reports to CFO
    • Do you employ contractors/firms/third parties for technology work? Yes
      • If so, how many? 1 primary
      • What are their roles? Primary network and help desk support
    • Anything else you'd like to share?


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    Richard Wollenberger
    Director, Information Technology & HIPAA Compliance and Security Officer
    Parents as Teachers
    St. Louis MO
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