A party is a competitive organization. It competes with other parties in elections to gain a greater share of power; in the legislature to turn its policy priorities into law; and in the collective pool of voters to woo potential members and fundraisers. In this environment, a political party is constantly trying to gain a competitive advantage. Before thinking about specific tech tools, a party should take into consideration how different party members access and use technology (disaggregated by age, gender, location, etc.) to ensure the tools can reach their intended audience.
In the current Information Communication Technology (ICT) environment, there are a number of valuable new tools that can do just that. They can help a party organize, communicate and engage with members and voters. However, it can be tempting to look at modern technological tools as simple, low-cost solutions to a broad range of problems when, in fact, many are neither easy nor cheap. Even simple, “free” ICT tools require substantial staff time to establish and maintain, and they often have significant hidden costs. This worksheet can help a party better understand what short- and long-term costs are involved in a tech-based project, considering acquisition, setup and ongoing expenditures.
Political parties often focus their attention on the newest, most visible tools or those that receive the most media attention. However, tool selection should be the last in a series of steps that include investigating party needs and goals; examining whether ICTs can help meet those goals; and determining which types of ICTs are appropriate for the environment and audience, with a particular focus on the time and financial commitment that may be required. These steps can be broken out into four broad questions:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- What is our goal?
- What types of technology can help?
- What type of tool should we select?
This section will help guide a party as it answers these questions, and provides links to resources on this site and elsewhere on the web that contain additional information.