Just sharing a strategic information systems (SIS) plan I’ve prepared for Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha (AMPS) as part of the requirements for completing a strategic information systems course at UPOU last October. Any non-profit organization with a similar purpose of teaching, promoting ideologies and philosophies, values, wellness-related, or personal life skills may be able to benefit from the study, especially if looking to get some information on the drivers, benefits to an SIS, as well as short and long term actions that can already be done to maximize the use of information technology to support organizational objectives.
The SISP explores how AMPS as a socio-civic non-profit organization can further utilize technology in a strategic way in order to advance its organizational objectives. (AMPS is a global organization present in over 80 countries but the scope of this SISP is targeted within the Manila sector (consisting of Southeast Asian countries)). The organizational area of investigation and exploration was the challenge of supporting Pracar (spiritual teaching) functions of the organization given the following key qualities/models adopted: volunteer-based, no-profit, no loss resourcing model, decentralized setup, and where no formal IT function is yet established.
Research methods such as desk research, interviews, and surveys were mostly conducted remotely in cooperation with organizational representatives. As a member of the organization since childhood and as an IT professional and consultant for over 11 years, prior knowledge and experience has also played a role in the research.
Results or Findings
Due to the limited amount of time, limited resources esp. without an IT function and the unplanned nature of the request, only high level information on the Pracar functions’ strategic objectives have been recommended. Key findings, in any case, are as follows.
While mission and vision statements have been defined for the Pracar function, more specific strategic objectives had yet to be defined. Whilst AMPS conducts quarterly organizational
planning functions such as Review, Defect, Solution (RDS) and Inspection, Review, Solution, Structure & Solidarity (IRSS) conferences, strategic planning for IS has yet to find its way to being conducted regularly as well.
· AMPS has yet to fully recognize or take action on the need for and extent of possible benefits of the proactive management of technology for strategic purposes.
· There is no IT/IS function secretary and there is no IT-related coordination within the Manila sector IT administrators for the proactive management and sharing of IT resources.
· Various information systems are currently used by local offices for website publishing or ecommerce which indicates a recognition of IT’s utility to the organization, however, its maintenance continues to be a challenge.
· Based on the assessment of customer and external requirements, three Pracar processes have been identified as opportunity areas for IS/IT enhancement or innovation. (1) Yoga classes, online community and social engagement, (2) Training & knowledge management, and (3) IT asset management.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The complex, dynamic and fast pace of change of technologies and customer behaviour will increasingly require AMPS to conduct more rigorous planning, coordination and change management practices if it is to maximise opportunities and manage threats that external environmental changes may present. Some specific action items are recommended:
1. Recognize the need for an IT/IS function and develop an IS/IT secretary and/or committee which will include business-technology consultants or advisors to
a. investigate and explore possibilities to increase effectiveness, efficiency and generate savings beginning with developing an inventory of organizational and IT asset resources.
b. serve as SMEs for the organizational ‘business’ Pracar committee
c. facilitate pilot tests for the implementation of applications supporting the 3 opportunity areas identified within the Pracar function.
2. Agree on the criticality of and commit to conducting regular strategic IS planning. Obtain a strategic plan as the output of the organizational planning functions Review, Defect, Solution (RDS) and Inspection, Review, Solution, Structure & Solidarity (IRSS) conferences from which the IT/IS committee can work off from to support and enhance.
3. Take advantage of and generate quick and easy wins already by maximizing the use of online services for
(a) obtaining funding e.g. web services such as kiva.org, setting up online or electronic payment methods to accept donations from such as Paypal, GCash, or via sharing of bank account number information,
(b) getting volunteers for initiatives onsite or remotely e.g. sparked.com, volunteermatch.org