Planning for Technology

New guide offers a model for information technology planning that is tailored to the needs of HBCUs

WASHINGTON
Historically Black institutions seeking guidance on
how to develop an up-to-date information technology plan for their
campuses may have a solution in a new guide published by the Executive
Leadership Foundation (ELF).

The Technology Transfer Project Strategic Planning Model report is
a 30-page guidebook and software package that offers a strategic
planning model for HBCUs that are developing a strategic plan for
information technology infrastructure on their campuses. The report,
the first of its kind, was produced pro bono by the highly regarded
Booz, Allen & Hamilton consulting company. The report and software
is estimated to have cost $450,000 to produce, according to ELF
officials.

“Our goal is to deploy this model to as many HBCUs as possible,”
says Ramon Harris, director of ELF’s Technology Transfer Project.

The report has four principle sections: technology usage model,
baseline survey and needs assessment, cost model and funding strategy,
and technology strategic plan. The technology usage model section
directs school officials on evaluating how their institutions use
information technology. The baseline survey and needs assessment
section provides guidance to officials on assessing how their
institutions perform compared to “Best Practice” institutions. The cost
model and funding strategy helps officials assess costs for making
campus information-technology infrastructure investments. And the
technology strategic plan section provides a template for an
institution to develop an overall plan for its campus.

Introduction and deployment of the information technology model
marks a high profile initiative for ELF’s Technology Transfer Project.
Launched in 1996, the TTP has promoted information “technology
awareness among faculty, students, and administrators” at HBCUs. The
project has targeted six HBCUs as partner institutions.

Partner institutions receive assistance from ELF and corporations
in four areas: strategic planning, faculty development, computer
hardware and software, and summer internships for students. ELF
allocated $600,000 to support the TTP during the 1997-98 academic year.

Conceived in 1996, the strategic planning model was completed this
past summer and introduced in September. Since October, Harris and ELF
staffers have visited Morehouse, Spelman, and Bethune-Cookman colleges
to present the technology model formally to campus officials. Harris
says the model was developed with the cooperation of seventeen HBCUs,
which are presently getting formal introduction to it during an initial
round of campus visits by ELF staffers.

Six traditionally White institutions participated in the report’s
development, serving as “Best Practice” schools from which the Booz,
Allen & Hamilton team drew formulas and strategies of successful
technology usage. The six “Best Practice” schools, which include the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland,
were schools that had rankings in the Yahoo! Best Wired Colleges annual
survey (see Black Issues August 20, 1998, pg. 44).

ELF officials want the report and software presented to all of the
nation’s HBCUs. They say the strategic planning model has the
flexibility to be used at any higher education institution, but it
contains materials that focus on the specific needs of historically
Black institutions. A key section of the report shows schools where
they can go to find funding sources for technology investments.

Harris says the report can help an institution develop a strategic
plan for information technology for the first time, as well as guide a
school through the pitfalls of updating an existing one.

“My guess is that most HBCUs have a strategic plan for technology,”
Harris says, explaining that ELF determined that many HBCUs have a need
for updating technology plans.

Margaret Massey, vice-president for technology and chief
information officer of Bethune-Cookman College, says the release of
ELF’s strategic planning model coincides with her institution’s current
effort to develop a campuswide technology plan.

“What we’re going to do is follow their exact format,” she says.
Bethune-Cookman recently consolidated the administration of its
administrative computing resources, academic computing branch, computer
networking resources and telecommunication facilities into one
department.

Massey describes the ELF report and software package as “excellent”
because it allows users like her to plug information that is specific
to their campus directly into charts and templates of the strategic
planning model.

“All the work has been done,” she says. “The software makes it very easy to fill in the blanks.”

Gerald Adolph, vice president of Booz, Allen & Hamilton, says
his company has considerable experience in advising Fortune 500
corporations on how to utilize information technology. Interest in
working with HBCUs through ELF’s Technology Transfer Project grew
partially out of Adolph’s involvement with the TTP steering committee,
according to Adolph. He says the chairman and CEO of the company
supported the strategic planning model initiative because the executive
had already worked with HBCUs through serving as a board member of The
College Fund/UNCF.

Adolph says it’s critical that HBCUs develop a strategic
understanding of how their institutions benefit from having computers
and the infrastructure to support their use.

“If you know what you want, you can find a way to pay for it,” he says.

Harris says that by March 1999, the seventeen “baseline schools”
will have gotten formal presentations on the strategic planning model
and software. He anticipates that by the end of June 1999, an
additional twenty-two HBCUs will have the report and software presented
to them.

ELF is the affiliate and charitable arm of the Washington,
D.C.-based Executive Leadership Council, a national organization whose
members include senior-level African American executives at Fortune 500
companies.

To obtain information about the strategic planning model and the
accompanying software, contact the Executive Leadership Foundation at
(202) 298-8226. The mailing address is 1010 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite
520, Washington, D.C. 20007. The organization’s Web address is
<www.elcinfo.com>.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com