Leveraging Technology to Work Smarter
This blog article is part of Foundant’s quarterly content series designed to offer tangible tips and practical resources on how to Work Smarter, Not Harder.
Many people have a love/hate, “can’t live with it/can’t live without it” relationship with technology—finding it essential in some cases and overwhelming in others.
No matter where you fall on this debate on any given day, we all likely agree that keeping up with the constant changes can be challenging. Even though I work for a software company and sincerely believe in the power of technology to create efficiencies and enable better work, I can relate!
Throughout my career, I have switched from a “Microsoft shop” to a Google-based organization…and back again. I have moved from conducting virtual meetings with Skype to Microsoft Teams and now to Zoom. Project management tools? I have used too many to list. Some of these applications were slowly rolled out; others were launched overnight in March 2020 out of necessity as we entered a worldwide pandemic. On top of those transitions, I switch from a PC environment at work to a Mac at home every day. Like all of you, I am constantly adjusting, re-learning, and discovering new technology tools.
As part of our Work Smarter, Not Harder content series, industry thought leader Rachel Myers invited Cory Brester, Foundant’s Director of CRM and Information Systems, to join her on a podcast episode about how to leverage technology and “make it your friend, not foe.”
Leverage Your Current Tech Tools
Do you ever wonder if you are taking advantage of all the benefits of your current tools or keeping up with new features? Rachel and Cory shared several practical ideas for learning more about the tools you already have:
- Designate consistent times for technology sharing
Rachel suggested creating space—as little as 10 minutes at the end of a regular staff meeting—for your team to share the “latest and greatest” about the tools your organization is already using. I love this idea! We all have the best intentions to set aside time to practice using our technology tools. But, if you’re like me, this time gets quickly swallowed up by urgent requests and higher-priority tasks. Our team recently started doing this as part of a regular meeting, and it has been a gamer changer. Not only does it prevent this skill-building time from falling off my to-do list, but I find tremendous value in seeing how my peers are using tools to do similar work. As Rachel says, “Learning from my peers is the best way because it feels so tangible and relevant.”
- Schedule lunch-and-learns
If you can’t make time during staff meetings, schedule regular lunch-and-learns. This is another excellent way to set aside time for learning how to maximize the benefits of your technology tools. Designate someone to lead each session. Not only will you be dedicating time to grow your skills, but it’s also an opportunity to build your relationships with your teammates. Bring treats and make it fun!
- Meet with your peers in the sector who use the same solution(s)
Again, this provides the benefits of learning from and connecting with peers—in this case, from outside your organization. I did this in a previous job. I met virtually with a group of peers in the region who were using the same content management system. It was incredibly helpful to hear their tips and tricks and to troubleshoot with others using the same tools to pursue similar goals. Bonus: Through our brainstorming sessions, we developed a valuable network of colleagues to reach out to about work-related topics beyond technology. NOTE: If you’re a Foundant client, check out our resources to help you host a Client Meet-Up in your area, or see our 2023 Regional Training schedule for a list of dates and locations where we’ll be hosting two-day training sessions.
Watch Rachel’s short four-minute explainer video to learn more about how to leverage your existing tools:
Evaluating New Technology
What if your organization identifies a need that can’t be met with your existing tools? How do you wade through the seemingly endless list of options to find the right tool for your team?
In their Leveraging Technology podcast episode, Rachel and Cory dig deeper into evaluating new technology. Cory outlines four essential questions to ask when researching new tools:
- Purpose: What does it do? Does it solve the problem or address the need you have identified in your organization?
- Cost: What is the cost—both financial and in terms of the time required to train and stay current?
- Security: Does the tool meet your organization’s security requirements?
- Ownership: Who in your organization will be assigned to “own” that piece of technology? And what responsibilities come with that ownership?
Whether you’re old enough to remember the Apple II, DOS, and floppy disks (reluctantly, I raise my hand), have grown up with an iPhone in your hand, or anywhere in between—we can all acknowledge that technology is here to stay. Instead of deciding you don’t like it (or it doesn’t like you), Cory encourages people to “be open to it.” He continues, “It’s OK to fail. If it’s not the right tool, move on to the next thing.”
Let’s face it, we all need more time. Technology can provide that for us by creating efficiencies. And we can make the process of learning, adopting, and evolving with technology a bit easier by following these tips—ultimately enabling us to take back time so we can take on the work that matters most.
Join the Conversation
What technology have you tried and adopted? What have you tried and not loved? Join our Work Smarter, Not Harder conversation in Compass, Foundant’s online community for philanthropy, to share your successes and questions.