What Types of Technology Can Help?

8635260252_0c41ba5859_zOnce a party has conducted a SWOT analysis, identified the problems it wants to address and developed SMART goals, it should have some idea of the steps it can take to achieve those goals. New technologies can help a party achieve some of its goals, but not all. For example, a party might have long-standing organizational challenges that it needs to address; in some cases, it might not have the capacity to implement an ICT program. After an assessment, if a party realizes that one of its weaknesses is a lack of focus and expertise on policy development, it might need to change its processes, reorganize, or identify and hire policy experts. Although technology can help accomplish some of these steps, simply utilizing new technology is not a primary strategy.

Once it establishes clear goals, a party should assess the time and resources — both financial and human — available to achieve those goals. If there is an an upcoming election, for example, the party might not have enough staff or member time to devote to a new initiative. In this situation, the party has to allocate resources carefully. The worksheet on selecting tech tools helps parties think through important considerations when choosing new technologies.

The steps outlined above can help decision makers within the party identify tech tools that can lead them to accomplish their goals within their means and their specified timeline. These steps also help decision makers decide if a tool is unrealistic for their party because they do not have the available time or resources or if ICT solutions are simply not a good fit at the present moment. ICTs cannot solve every problem; in fact, if improperly applied, they can create expensive new problems.

If a party believes it needs to improve its member engagement in order to perform better in an upcoming election, for instance, then it should identify tactics for engaging members. If these tactics require new tech tools — such as a member database, an email newsletter or a members-only section of the website — then the party should discuss those options and determine if it has the resources, manpower and time available to use them. If, in this example, the party wants to improve its connections with young voters, and it identifies Facebook as a viable outreach tool, then it must determine whether there is a qualified staff member who can dedicate a percentage of his or her time to the Facebook page.  If staff time is limited and no one can work on the page beyond setting it up, the party should look for another solution.

A party should also assess its local technology environment to determine whether ICTs are a good fit. If the majority of young people do not have a smartphone or other access to the internet, then Facebook is not the right solution in this instance. The section on understanding your tech environment can help a party make these decisions.

Key Takeaways

What types of technology can help?

After identifying problems and developing goals, a party must select the technology tools necessary to achieve those goals. Temporal, financial, labor, technological and environmental constraints can impact the tool selection process. See the worksheet on selecting tech tools for more details.