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5 Steps to Remove Blockers When You Really Need an IT Upgrade at Your Nonprofit

This post was originally published here (The TechSoup Blog)

It’s an old story and it happens in every office. The folks working directly with IT know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the organization needs a new application or piece of hardware or something critical to operations. The answer is always, “Sorry, we don’t have the budget for that.” As Strother Martin said in the classic film, Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

Let’s Take a For-Instance

Maybe you’ve been reading in the technology press about the latest ransomware threat and know that your anti-malware software is pretty old and your other IT security is perilously thin. Plus, your office is running older software that isn’t accepting regular updates any more. Nothing serious has happened yet, but you know it’s just a matter of time. What’s to be done?

5 Tips That Just Might Work

Step 1: Describe the Problem

Write up a fairly short, plain language description of the problem, and most importantly, the risk to the organization. I’d suggest including an estimate of the amount of time before an IT failure can be expected to occur and the cost to the organization. The cost of downtime is hard to estimate, but should figure prominently in the problem statement.

If possible, keep this to a single critical problem rather than a mass of interlocking problems. That’s probably the hardest part. We all have multiple IT problems.

Step 2: Determine What Specific Upgrade You Need

It seems obvious, but the trick is to research and decide what exact version of software or model of hardware upgrade is needed. An example from the hypothetical situation above might be Norton Small Business 1-Year Subscription for 10 Devices.

Step 3: Get Cost Information

Of course, check the TechSoup product catalog first for product donations or discounts, which are far less expensive than normal retail costs. There are other nonprofit channels as well.

Step 4: Present Your Case

OK. Easier said than done. One trick of the trade is to rehearse. Talk to sympathetic people inside the organization first to get their reaction to your argument. Ask for suggestions on ways to get this to the attention of the right decision makers.
Sometimes it takes some politics. If someone other than you is likely to be better heard, then so be it. It’s often the messenger rather than the message that persuades the best.
The really tricky part is to keep within the supervisory structure. It’s super important to get the blessing of managers above you. I don’t think I’d recommend going straight to the board chair.

Step 5: Keep Trying Until You Get a Clear Yes or No

Critical IT vulnerabilities are worth some tenacity. Decision makers in our organizations must know about them, and the risks of not addressing them. It’s one of hardest parts of being a technologist in any office, but that’s what we’re there for, right?

Additional Resources

We hope these five tips on removing blockers when you really need an IT upgrade are helpful. If you have suggestions on things that have worked for you, please sign in and tell us below!
Image: Max Pixel / CC0

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Author: jimlynch

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