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Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects

Aspiration and Idealware will host a first-of-its-kind Nonprofit Technology Project Management event in New York City on Thursday, January 10th through Friday, January 11th, 2008.

Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects (MNTP) will examine the tools and best practices that will help nonprofits deliver successful technology solutions - whether websites, packaged software implementations, or custom applications.

Interactive sessions and demos will allow a diverse group of participants to compare processes, tools, successes, and lessons learned. We will discuss areas such as team collaboration, project planning, software selection, migration, and project rollout, and map out the software tools – from project management packages to collaborative communication to issue tracking and more – that support successful technology projects.

Aspiration’s skill in facilitating practitioner knowledge combined with Idealware’s experience in providing mental frameworks and research based information will ensure an informal, collaborative, and information-rich event.
What are the Goals?

MNTP will have three primary goals:

* To strengthen the community of practice among those who identify themselves as nonprofit technology project managers

* To enhance the knowledge and capacity of technology project managers within a rich, sharing environment

* To map out the range of tools and best practices being employed in nonprofit technology project management

Participants will exchange project management tools and techniques that they can immediately apply to the management of any project, and discuss project management processes – from project initiation to project planning, project execution, monitoring and control, to project closure – in the context of stories and experiences. We will inventory resources and best practices for nonprofit IT project management, ranging from templates to trainings, and show useful software packages as they are used in actual nonprofits.

Significant time will be spent discussing appropriate practices and processes for defining requirements in nonprofit software projects to inform the "build, buy, or rent" decisions that vex nonprofit technology managers on a regular basis.

Who Should Come?

MNTP will focus on growing the community of nonprofit technology project managers by providing support to those currently practicing as project managers, recruiting and offering support to those new to (or bewildered by) this craft, and creating a space for the "accidental project managers" to share their stories, discover their allies, and grow into more "intentional" project managers. A significant part of the event will be built around mentoring relationships; experienced individuals with knowledge and stories to share will collaborate with participants who want to learn more.

Participants will be encouraged to bring real-world projects to MNTP. We'll do some real-time project management, coaching, and assessment, and try to measure our progress by the end of MNTP and beyond.

What's On the Agenda?

The agenda will be designed specifically to ensure participants interact with and learn from each other, while also providing a solid grounding in essential topics. While the final session list will be designed in collaboration with participants in the time leading up to the event, the following workshops are certain to be included in the proceedings:

* Nonprofit Technology Project Management 101: For those who self-identify as new to the discipline, this session will provide an overview of nonprofit technology project management. Essential topics, truths, and tools will be presented, with the second half of the session employing a question-driven format.

* Anatomy of a Well-Managed Technology Project: Drawing from case studies good, bad and ugly, this session will focus on key aspects of successful project management. The primary take-away will be guidelines on how project managers can maintain control of their projects.

* Designing and Redesigning Web Sites: Any nonprofit that has published a web site understands the frustrating nature of the process. This session will consider how best to take on the task of casting organizational identity on the web while also serving target audiences and delivering value to web visitors accordingly.

* What Should a Web Site Cost? One of the most vexing questions in any project is “what are appropriate costs for technology and labor?” This session will utilize anecdotal data and participant input to explore costing for different types of web sites, from simple “brochure-ware” sites to custom, database-backed applications and points in between.

* Mapping Communication Tools to Tasks: There are a range of ways to collaborate with partners and stakeholders in any project. But which tools work best for which types of collaboration? This session will sort out appropriate times to employ email, instant messaging and chat, wikis, phone calls, file sharing, forums and other tools.

* Using Wikis for Effective Collaboration: Over the past several years, wikis (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki) have demonstrated their value as a key tool in certain project management processes. This session will map out best practices and techniques for successfully utilizing wiki technology for project collaboration. Also discussed will be when not to use wikis, and when more structured information sharing tools are advisable.

* Selecting and Recommending Tools – The Idealware Process: Laura Quinn will describe the Idealware methodology for gathering collective software knowledge in specific software categories, as well as their approach to assessing tools and evaluating appropriate uses. Case studies will detail past tool reports, and participants will work through key steps in the Idealware process in a software category decided by the group in the session.

* Managing Nonprofit Software Development Projects: While a best practice for nonprofits technologists is to try and utilize existing tools and services, there are invariably times when the appropriate tools and applications don't exist. But software development is not a core competency of most nonprofits, and too often nonprofit software development efforts spiral out of control or end in less-than-complete realization of vision. This session will explore how best to get from concept to running code with out losing focus on mission.

* Managing Consultants and Dealing with Vendors: This peer sharing workshop will invite participants to compare their processes and tactics for managing critical project relationships that fall outside of organizational boundaries.

* Horrific Tales of Miserable Project Management Failure: Nothing is more instructive than the mistakes of others. Participants will be invited to swap stories and cautionary tales of the many speed bumps, pot holes, and multi-vehicles pile-ups on the road to project management success.

* A Whirlwind Discussion of Project Management Software Utilities: This fast-paced session will allow participants to share the various project management utilities available, including time tracking, task management, source code control, and more.

* Software Share: Basecamp, MS Project, DreamTeam and more – Nonprofit practitioners will provide a variety of 10-15 minute software demos to allow participants to see the packages in real-life situations and compare the strengths and weaknesses.

How Can I Get Involved?

Ready to register? The event is $495 for those from organizations with budgets over 500K, and $295 for those from organizations under 500K. Register online now via credit card or via check (registration links will take you to the Aspiration site).

Questions? Comments? Want to be added to a low-volume email list for event reminders and key dates? Have a burning desire to be there but just can't afford it? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Official Website: http://idealware.org/mntp.php

Added by robpurdie on December 14, 2007