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Technology and IT staff are often typecast as problem solvers, project managers, or data analysts; this doesn’t leave room to explore the role of visionary or strategic partner.
A key to changing how technology and IT staff are viewed is truly aligning your tech to the mission. Let me explain what I mean by highlighting three different types of technology planning: tactical, strategic and missional. Strategic: On this level, we shift to meeting the operational and strategic needs of the organization.
Strategic technology planning is a great step towards getting IT seen as a partner in the organization because it demonstrates the ability for tech to enable the staff. Missional: On this level of planning, scope shifts beyond the goals and plans to the mission and vision of the organization. This type of planning requires a real understanding of the mission and what it would take to impact it.  When you embark on this type of technology planning with leadership, it clearly shows your organization why technology should have a seat at the table.
While resources for tactical and strategic tech planning abound, I have not found as many that focus on mission-focused technology (which is why we ran a session on it at the 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference).
Who: Pull together a diverse group of people from inside and outside of your organization with a wide set of experiences and expertise (including some who may not know your organization well but who understand the cause). What stands in the way of acting on or in completing the selected part of your mission or vision statement? Use a set of cards with different types of emerging and core technologies (prepare these cards ahead of time). Have the group brainstorm possible technology approaches to each of the barriers you identified in the second step. If all of the actions taken by IT staff start with a request from other staff or other organizational stakeholders, how can IT ever be seen as innovative or visionary?
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Steve Heye is a Solutions Consultant at where he acts as a technical expert on the Social Impact team which donates the NetSuite solution to nonprofits. Many small business owners and operators do not spend much time planning for their business success. The reason for this confusion stems from the fact that both words are closely connected and, unfortunately, used interchangeably. In real world business usage, the term Strategy actually is the thinking process required to plan a change, course of action, or organization. To understand the differences better, here are some notable points to consider, with respect to strategic planning. To ensure support for the strategy, it is advisable to conduct consensus-building exercises for the company.
In tactical planning, you need to understand and decipher the strategic goals; then identify the courses of action you will need to achieve those strategic objectives. As a small business owner, you need to make plans that include specific activities that are arranged on specified time frames and have specific outcomes. To sum up, strategic planning relates to issues pertinent to the mission of your small business—the purpose of its existence.
Tactical planning relates to actions taken day-to-day, and whose results will move the company forward to achieve the objectives outlined in the strategic plan. The terms tactical and strategic are fundamental to an understanding of the different responsibilities attached to management and governance of any small business. If you would like help with any part of the planning process or implementation of your plan, please contact BestFit Solutions. IGI recognizes and promotes the value of good planning to most efficiently apply the use of GIS technology to enhance an organization's business.

Our planning process utilizes powerful combinations of workshops, interviews, surveys, and existing client resources to get to the heart of any issues that have held or may hold back adoption of GIS technology.
InfoGeographics staff have a wealth of experience in GIS Planning, having completed successful GIS Strategic and Tactical Plans for state and local governments as well as major corporations and other private sector companies. I wish there was a single answer or approach to getting invited to the table, but of course there isn’t. If IT projects and staff solely focus on the infrastructure—fighting fires or implementing tools—IT may be relegated to the function of help desk.
This doesn’t mean aligning your tech to the organization’s strategic plan (though that is a key step); rather, it means focusing some of your technology strategy directly on overcoming a barrier to meeting your organization’s mission. You need to have the tactical and strategic elements in place no matter what, and then you can use missional planning to shift how IT is perceived. A solid infrastructure and functional technology is key to building trust and allowing next steps. Cross-functional teams with a need for business process changes, staff training, and change management can inform this process.
Below is a set of potential steps to follow to get started with missional technology planning (but make them your own). There are plenty of resources out there to show you how to do the tactical and strategic planning. Lindsay Bealko from Toolkit Consulting, Andrea Berry from Idealware, and I worked together to develop the following game plan to help move your missional technology planning efforts forward. To make it tougher, we had the group pick the technology which seemed like the least likely match. Starting the conversation about technology planning can help shift the perception of IT staff from help desk attendant to visionary leader and reserve IT staff a seat at the table. He is the author of Chapter 1 on IT Alignment in the NTEN book, Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission. We offer a wide selection of business tools, software and training suitable for small businesses.
Yet, in business terminology, the words strategy and tactics refer to separate business functions and practices. Strategy defines, or outlines, the desired goals and why you should go about achieving them. When doing strategic planning, you need to determine, specifically, what outcome you want to achieve (These are your Objectives) and how you will measure the results. You might include Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and other personnel inside and outside your organization. Ensure the performance of all tactical planning activities and calculate their effects; then help connect the tactical moves to the strategic plan. The responsibility for strategic planning rests with you (and your partners and investors, if any). If you fail to do this for your company, then you are driving a 1000 mile race without a roadmap. As frequent travelers of this road, we can provide a map to make sure you end the race, exactly where you want to be. Specific recommendations and options are presented in the major areas of Technical, Organizational, and Financial Opportunities.
However, there may be some ways to spark the conversation by working to spotlight how technology planning can be impactful to the organization’s mission and how IT staff can serve as visionaries. Having a strategic technology plan will help show the benefits of tech, but it may not change an organization’s cultural relationship with IT. As strategic technology improves, it gets tied to and can even be integrated into the organization’s strategic plan.

Be advised that much of the involvement of IT may still take place after the strategic plan is written and key decisions are made.
Identify gaps between your ability to meet the mission and the capacity of the organization, then match technology to the gaps. I would suggest reviewing the Tactical Tech Planning course from Idealware, attending the Nonprofit Tech Academy from NTEN, and reading the Unleashing Innovation paper from MAP Tech Works.  You should also consider working with a consultant to run the process and bring in outside expertise.
Note: I would get leadership support and buy-in before attempting missional technology planning, or perform the activity with organizational leadership first. Challenge the group to look for ideas which do not rely on staff intervention, which extend past the reach of the organization, and which have a direct impact on constituents.  Come up with your own rules for the group based on your style, culture, and cause. With over 20 years experience working with nonprofits and technology, Steve brings a real passion and unique set of experiences to the NPTech community. With an idea in hand, they start out lacking even basic knowledge of how to run a business. We provide innovative solutions, focusing on: strategy, marketing, starting a small business, writing business & marketing plans, business operations analysis, management methods, SEO website marketing, website content generation, manufacturing consulting, business operations consulting and business automation. Most owners, when they hear the words Strategic Planning or Tactical Planning, get a glazed-eyed look on their faces.
The strategic planning phase involves business thinkers (namely you – the small business owner) determining why, and in a global sense what, you will achieve in your stated goals.
Any uncertainties and risks will be sure to surface at this point in the strategic planning process. They draw up a tactical plan so they know what to do, when they need to do it, and this will help them deal with the “how” part of the plan. If you don’t know where you are going, or how you are going to get there, then where you end up will most likely not be where you hope.
BestFit Solutions helps small and medium sized businesses by giving them tools and expertise most small businesses don’t have, or even know exist.
Actually, these can be rather simple tasks to manage if you understand a few things about them.
You will then need to craft an aggressive action plan to take advantage of opportunities discovered during your research. Instead most business operators are in a state of confusion about what each of these terms mean. This will include a listing of your defined strategic objectives, with the tactics you expect to use to achieve them.
He also has experience as the Digital Content Services Manager at the YMCA of Metro Chicago. The plan should reflect both perceived challenges and the expected end results in order to be complete. He was responsible for managing all aspects of the YMCA's digital content creation including the web sites, intranet and social networking. A key role in Steve's past was with the Technology Resource Group at the YMCA of the USA for about ten years. He provided resources, conferences, and training that allows YMCAs nationwide to better leverage business systems and technology.

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