ICT is part of everyday life for voluntary and community sector organisations (VCOs) of all sizes.
It touches every aspect of running an organisation from accounting, communications and marketing, to office procedures and networking dispersed teams in the field.
However, with greater reliance on ICT comes a greater need for effective support. It is important to consider not just technical support (for when things go wrong) but all aspects of ICT support including:
- Procurement and purchasing decisions
- Staff and volunteer training
- Strategic planning
Without support in all these areas, ICT can quickly become much more of a hindrance than a help, costing an organisation time and money. Individual support organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors can and do provide ICT support to VCOs – whether this is grant-funded or sponsored and therefore free to the user, consultancy-based, or membership-based.
However, there is significant potential for a more collaborative approach within the sector itself, which may offer:
- increased efficiency
- lower costs
- reduced duplication
- effective exchange of relevant information and best practice
- better understanding of the issues faced by VCOs through the experience of those collaborating
Should you collaborate?
Before embarking on a collaboration, partners will need to clarify and agree a range of issues. The publication "Should you collaborate" will help with further information on what issues to consider before you decide if collaboration is the right solution for your organisation.
Useful questions to answer will include:
- What are our aims for this collaboration?
- What can we achieve together that we could do less well separately?
- Do we have the support of our Trustees and Chief Executive?
- Does it fit with our strategic vision and current priorities?
- What is the role of each collaborating partner?
- What are the benefits to each party?
- What are the costs and resources required?
- What timescales are realistic?
- What would happen if things went wrong?
Potential collaborators will want to consider whether to begin a new collaborative initiative -perhaps starting their own version of what has happened elsewhere, or whether there would be more benefit in joining an existing collaborative initiative, if there is one available. This willdepend on issues such as:
- Development or start-up costs
- Size – is there benefit in starting small, or is critical mass important for success?
- Locality – do we need our own local version of this model?
- Culture – do we need a version that meets specific needs, customs and ways of working?
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment