Statewide Technology Planning in Legal Services


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Statewide Technology Planning in Legal Services

  1. 1. Statewide Technology Planning in Legal Services: Turns Out It Is Rocket Science January, 2004 Gabrielle Hammond, NTAP Editors: Steve Gray and Ed Marks
  2. 2. About the Author Gabrielle Hammond has been a manager in legal services for nine years. This means, she’s worn every hat from project manager, fundraiser, supervisor, advocate, to even, consultant. Currently, Gabrielle Hammond directs the National Technology Assistance Project through the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. NTAP was funded by Legal Services Corporation in 2001. For more information on NTAP and Gabrielle Hammond, please visit NTAP’s site, located conveniently with LStech.Org: Acknowledgements This manual is truly a living testament to a collective effort. And, since it only took seven short years from conception to final product to produce, it is also a working symbol of the challenges of planning and manuals. But, what you have before you is completed, and we think, even helpful. We have many to thank for that. We would not even have a manual to put on the shelf if it weren’t for Glenn Rawdon and Steve Gray. Back when there was idealism and the word “manual” really meant something more like “outline,” Glenn and Steve harmlessly conceived of a “manual” that would help programs save money on planning consultants and better understand the value of technology in legal services. Their initial thoughts, brainstorms, and discussion points were used years later when the planning manual was resuscitated into its new form. Steve Gray, in particular, is recognized for his first attempts to put this together, just for the passion of doing so. The final product before you borrows many of his witty remarks initially found on dusty outlines. A team of NTAP consultants, bright-eyed and excited to bring the tech community together, met on the Statewide Technology Planning Manual (STPM) years ago in its infancy. This manual reflects their initial thoughts and planning efforts. In particular, Ed Marks, Rob Davies, and Bill Yarian are commended for their input in those early stages. Ed Marks, in particular, invested his time in providing key input and guidance throughout the development, and was the co-editor on the final version. The Legal Services Corporation officially funded this effort last year through NTAP. The manual definitely would not have been revived without the carrot of funding. NTAP found valuable online resources on general technology planning and lifted heavily from these sources. Namely, they include: TechSoup, an online resource for those doing technology in nonprofits ( and the Minnesota Schools and Library Systems, which conducted their own state technology planning process and included a website of resource materials ( These sources provided material that you’ll see interspersed throughout the manual and appendices.
  3. 3. Lastly, we interviewed many persons and programs across the country to gain insight on statewide technology planning. Mindy Cherng, the Training Coordinator at NTAP, conducted and coordinated these extensive interviews. Most importantly, NTAP sincerely appreciates the hours that the following staff and managers spent in interviews to provide information that fleshed out the manual before you. • Ray Bollinger, Legal Aid Society of East Tennessee • Angela Campbell, Kentucky Legal Aid • Brenda Combs, Northern Kentucky Legal Aid Society • Jim Deming, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services • Clarence Franklin, North Mississippi Rural Services • Tim Kelso, Nebraska Legal Services • Nancy Kleeman, Minnesota State Bar Association • Joan Kleinberg, Northwest Justice Project • Ed Marks, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. • Maureen O’Connell, Minnesota Legal Services Coalition • James Spencer, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri • Rick Winder, Michigan State Bar Foundation
  4. 4. Table of Contents About the Author .............................................................................................2 Acknowledgements...........................................................................................2 Purpose and Format of Manual ........................................................................6 We’re Lawyers, Not Techies: Why Plan for Technology? ..................................6 The Value of a Written Technology Plan ...........................................................7 A Written Plan Words of Wisdom Before You Begin to Plan for Technology ............................8 Overview of Tech Planning Process: A Checklist for Success............................8 Before You Begin .............................................................................................9 The Technology Planning Body ......................................................................10 Who’s the Group? Types of People on the Committee? The Principals vs. The Constituency Convening the Group Staffing and Budgeting for the Planning Process ............................................13 Staffing Words of Wisdom About Consultants Budgeting for the Process The Mission and Vision of the Group: Assess the Value of Technology...........14 Assess What You Have and Define What You Need .........................................16 Explore Solutions ...........................................................................................18 Assessing How to Integrate Technology with Your Objectives Develop a Concrete Plan ................................................................................19 Re-circle the Wagons.......................................................................................20 Funding and Sustainability .............................................................................20 Develop an Action Plan ..................................................................................21 Staffing the Action Plan Responsibilities of a Technology Coordinator Evaluate Your Efforts .....................................................................................22
  5. 5. Appendices.....................................................................................................23 A: Components of Your Tech Plan State Technology Support Structure Communication Infrastructure Statewide Case Management Software (CMS) Standard Training Group Purchasing Program Technology Planning, Budgeting and Policy Self-help Technologies / Client-Focused Technologies B: Resources, Links, and Contacts Background or Materials on Technology in Legal Services Technology Inventory and Planning for Individual Programs Technology Needs Assessment Samples Technology Planning of Minnesota Schools and Libraries Consultant Query or Find Budgeting for Technology Sample Job Descriptions for Statewide Technology Coordinators Interview Contacts and Information from Colleagues: Sample Technology Plans C: Ohio Sample: Draft Vision Statement, Goals, Activities and Objectives of Tech Plan D: Sample Evaluation and Communication for Technology (Excerpt from Minnesota Schools and Libraries Planning Guide) E: Sample Technology Plans
  6. 6. Purpose and Format of someone’s comments we received from any of the interviews we did on statewide Manual technology planning. Our omission of source means no offense. Simply, we While you could hire an outside consultant wanted the reader to focus on the pearl to help you devise your plan, it is hoped of wisdom, and not track which programs that this manual will give you enough might have been a little more dissatisfied information to do this work yourselves. or satisfied with planning than others. We The purpose of this manual is to give have tried our hardest to present themes programs a practical guide to set up a in easy-speak and with as much comedy as Statewide Plan for Technology, Tech techies, planners, and legal services’ staff Support, and Training. It’s that simple. can muster. Enjoy. It doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive manual on the complexities of planning or technology. We’re Lawyers, Not Techies: Why Plan for Technology? This manual tries to give you not just standard, consultant-like information “Whether you’re an inspired executive about statewide technology planning, director, technology staffer or an ‘accidental but also pearls of wisdom collected from techie’, you’re probably struggling to interviews with twelve different legal convince yourself, your board, your aid programs that are in some stage of staff or co-workers that integrating statewide technology planning. These technology into the workplace will be programs range from multi-program to worth the time, attention and expense. one-program states. Their planning efforts Effectively communicating the total value were motivated by factors that ranged of technology will help pave the way for from merger-driven to self-reflection. The strategic purchasing and decision-making.” appendices provide you with samples of – Marc Osten, Summit Collaborative. plans, surveys, and other planning tools and suggestions – both from sources Put simply, technology is uniquely within and outside of legal services. positioned to harness the power of information and maximize the power Given our topic at-hand, this manual of partnerships. Information and has a high probability of landing on a partnerships are necessary tools to protect shelf. You’ll notice in the format of the rights, lead our clients to economic manual that we’ve chosen an informal opportunities, resolve injustices, and link approach. You might see a few hanging clients to other services that can help lift prepositions (for the few lawyers and them from poverty’s cycle. techies that actually claim to notice), but our goal was readability. Also, you’ll notice In its utopia, technology offers an we have sidebars and text set-off from the opportunity to bridge divides (social, main sections in quotation marks that geographical, and economic), support are unattributed. We didn’t make these and strengthen partnerships, and deliver up. (Well, we might have made them a timely, accurate information or services bit more readable, and deleted the “um’s” easily. Sound technology management that might have been in the originals.) leads to greater productivity, increased But, these represent a distillation of staff morale, and improved service 6 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  7. 7. to clients through having machines for Newbies (, that work, networks that give access to by Steve Gray. information, and applications that are appropriate for an organization’s mission. The Value of a Written Technology innovations also transform Technology Plan the power of individuals by empowering clients or advocates outside of your individual office with strategies and tools A Written Plan for advocacy. Information can transform Just in case there is a free-standing organizations by giving them tools to hippie out there (and there are a few understand still left in legal services who haven’t the envi- Plan Like Lawyers, Not become directors) who doesn’t want to ronment Techies: be constrained by a written plan, here are they’re A technology plan forces a a few obvious justifications for an official, working in, program or group of programs final document: measure the to think through what you • Accountability effectiveness need and how to meet those needs. Planning helps ensure • Funders need them of their technology decisions are actions, and • What will your state do if your entire driven by your program’s or counter your state planning body’s planning group were hit by a bus? opposing objectives rather than vendors information or spendthrift tech-geeks. But, don’t get us wrong, just because a from other plan is written doesn’t mean it is useful. A groups and policy makers. technology plan has value only if it helps you and your statewide community meet Conversely, mismanaged technology larger goals and objectives to improving and poor decisions to implement it can the lives and protecting the rights of drain large sums of resources and staff your clients. Successful technology planning morale. By way of example, according to is integrated with, and driven by, strategic a recent e-article on TechSoup, a Boston- planning and your vision. based non-profit arts program reported an estimated loss of 2,300 hours per year To help your planning be effective, a due to trouble-shooting software, hardware technology plan should be reviewed problems, staff frustration with technology, and created by questions that help and attempts to recover lost information. your committee decipher how to meet (See: So, What’s the Full Value of Technology, objectives that improve efficiency, expand September 26, 2001; TechSoup). services, support partnerships, and maximize information currently available. If you need more information on the role of technology within legal services, there A written plan that is accountable to are several articles for you referenced in your delivery goals can be the missing the appendices, for example: Future of ingredient that can help the state planning Technology in Legal Services, co-authored body or your individual program to: by Gabrielle Hammond of NTAP and • Obtain funding. Funders will be Ellis Jacobs of Dayton Legal Aid and, much more likely to give money for especially for those new to the poverty law technology if you can show them a technology arena, see: Legal Aid Technology technology plan. NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 7
  8. 8. • Further your mission, objectives, Many of us can drum up excitement when and collaborations. The technology we are driving our planning efforts. But, planning process can expand your many times this is not the case. We’re horizons and help you see new ways forced to plan – by funders, by partners, by in which technology can further your crises, and that makes it less effective. mission. • Purchase the right equipment. The good news is there is help and there Purchasing hardware, software are pioneers. Many of us who experienced and networking equipment can be bad planning efforts survived and even overwhelming. If you don’t plan, it’s remained in What Drives your easy to end up with something that legal services. Planning? is way too complicated or doesn’t No matter do what you need it to. There’s no how great or Technology should not drive the decision making. Rather, substitute for thinking through poor your decisions should be made your goals and researching possible planning based on the goals and needs solutions. efforts are you have outlined to improve before you, the delivery of legal services. • Save money. someone’s • Avoid crisis and reduce risks. Bad been there before. Non-profits around technology decisions can leave you the country and several legal aid-led suffering for years. A faulty system efforts have successfully produced working can send your stress level through the and useful technology plans. NTAP roof and make you lose crucial data interviewed programs who loved and and capabilities. hated the planning process; programs • Streamline and use staff time more who self-described planning as difficult effectively. to enjoyable. This manual compiles the wisdom of these planning forerunners, • Reduce risks related to technology and also pulls in the solid information purchases and assist in decision- gleaned from the NPO technology making. planning materials we poured over. Their expertise and the steps outlined below can help ensure an effective technology plan. Words of Wisdom Before You Begin to Plan for Overview of Tech Planning Technology Process: A Checklist for Let’s not lie. We’re lawyers or we’re Success techies or we’re just crazy to work at legal aid. But we’re definitely not planners. It’s These are general guidelines to tech a unique skill and challenge even under planning, and they have helped legal the best circumstances. It takes time, aid programs and many other non-profit leadership, facilitation, and commitment planning efforts. Your team will have to be from all involved to really look at what creative and tailor this checklist into steps things work, what things don’t, and how to for your needs, re-order what is essential, put together something that isn’t bogged and plot your own course. down by process, politics, or verbosity. 8 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  9. 9. 1. Establish a strong technology • What is the timeline to plan? planning group. • How will the planning effort be 2. Decide staffing and budget for the staffed? planning efforts. • How will it be funded? 3. Define the vision and mission of • What is the objective of planning? the group. (For example, is it to: create state 4. Get buy-in. support for technology among all the 5. Define your needs. legal aid programs? Create a long- term approach for using technology 6. Explore solutions. to help clients access justice? Create 7. Write the plan. a short and mid-range approach to 8. Re-circle the wagons integrating technologies that help staff and management of cases be 9. Get funding. efficient and promote partnerships? 10. Implement the plan. Bring programs together in a merger process?) 11. Evaluate the plan. • Where does future planning fit into this process? Before You Begin You don’t have to have specific answers for all of these; a group of people can help Technology planning to create statewide you come up tech support and training requires some with them. Pearl of Wisdom: forethought. Now, for those of us that are But, these “We can’t say this enough: worn by process, this is not an optional questions communication has to flow step. It’s like going to the grocery store will need from the decision-makers to to get the ingredients to bake something answers the planners regularly. If the you’ve not baked before. You could just directors are not involved before the launch ahead to the store and hope you directly and are not bought in planning remember everything. Or, you could to the plan along the way, the process is planners may build something make a quick list. Making a grocery list successful. brilliant, only to see it gutted for a complicated baking experiment is or rejected. This can stall “planning for the plan.” Before you begin Generally, the process and increase the actual work of planning, you will need most frustration, things we generally to take a little time to think about the programs try to avoid if we want to retain mechanics of how you’ll plan. Consider: want to staff.” know how • Who will be included in the planning much it will cost and how long it will take. process? It depends on your group, the pressures placed on your program to produce a • Who ultimately makes decisions or plan, the overarching goals of planning, what body of people? and the time and staffing allotted to the • How will communication flow process. Some programs interviewed between the decision-makers and the had to move quickly on an externally- planners, if they are not the same generated timeline in order to coincide people with merger processes. Some programs NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 9
  10. 10. planned slowly over time, parallel to access Survey Says…On How Long it Takes to to justice planning initiatives. All of these Plan? politics and issues affect cost and timing. • “It took our program two years.” A Word of Advice on Stalling: The problem • “Six months.” with technology is you don’t have forever. • “I think we’re talking about a year or two to Bureaucratic committees and groups let ideas gel.” afraid of moving ahead on technology • “30 days…but that was a committee of decisions will finally agree on a plan that one.” now is outdated – both to the needs it was trying to solve and the technologies available to implement. What Does This Mean? Two things are clear from the interviews: The plan itself only takes two to six months The Technology Planning to actually write and get feedback on. The planning, getting buy-in, and the politics of Body planning are variables that will lengthen the The most important element in the success process by a range of four to 24 months. of your planning effort is the planning IT professors from local university, etc. group. The right group can ensure Generally, planning efforts should include: support and funding for the plan. • Legal aid programs in the state, Who’s the Group? • Pro bono programs, A technology planning steering committee • Courts or Administrative Office of the is charged with developing the plan and Courts, outlining how it will be implemented. This group should have some global • Public Defender Groups, representation from your justice • State Bar, community, Pearls of Wisdom: • Other stakeholders in the community programs who can share in technology toward that service “Out pitfall was the tension similar missions: law schools, library, your clients, of the merger. It was hard to community colleges, and universities, and partners get program involvement to who can work together initially in that • Other stakeholders that help benefit from environment.” clients or refer clients: other social technology “We are trying to get services agencies, shelters, senior sharing. coordination between the organizations, and state referral technology group and the programs like 211, and Some decision makers who sign programs checks. You need that level of • IOLTA funders or other foundation suggest buy-in from the beginning.” representatives, making a list “Our planning process of whom you improved once we involved Types of People on the Committee? would like to advocates and others outside The representation of staff positions see develop of management.” within the group should also be diverse a vision. If and include people who write checks, you don’t use technology, represent clients, have specific names, list job titles: i.e. and understand the overall vision. executive director of IOLTA program, 10 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  11. 11. Programs recommend a balanced group Principals section for more discussion on of: executive directors, advocates, roles of people that should be included in administrators, managers, intake workers, a planning group. non-techies, a tech-geek and maybe a naysayer for kicks. See Sidebar section and The Principals vs. The Constituency Let’s talk about size of the group and Survey Says…On Who is Vital to the strategies for balancing productivity and Planning Group? representation. If every relevant program • “I don’t think the directors of the programs and every staff position were represented played a critical role.” from your state, the group would be too • “Project directors led the effort.” big to be effective. Different programs have dealt with this in various ways. Some • “Executive Directors knew what LSC create one, smaller technology working needed. They played the biggest role.” sub-committee of a larger planning body. • “LSC played a critical role in our planning Others create two groups: Principals (a process.” working group) and a Constituency (larger • “Technologists.” group) for technology. • “It is critical to have your directors and the chief administrator (comptroller). Basically, Principals: A principal group of players you want the financial, vision, and tech is the working group that will make people at the table.” decisions, create the plan, and move the • “Attorneys who reported to their EDs.” process forward. This group needs to be small enough to be productive, but • “It takes a good mix of intake workers, inclusive enough to build support and advocates, directors, and computer responsible persons (CRPs).” buy-in. It has to be diverse enough to make room for executive directors, staff • “Outside consultants or computer whizzes managers, and a Luddite or two. who can write the RFPs.” • “Skeptics.” If you can’t seem to narrow down the group and think you’ll want to include What does this mean? more staff input, consider using a different Well, while taken out of context to demonstrate method besides involvement in a group to the varying opinions on most any such topic get input. You can survey users and solicit in legal services, the bottom line is this. If their input directly on what they want; there are highly political issues at-take, then what works; what doesn’t; what would they executive directors need to play a critical like to have that they don’t now. This is role – in person and actively – in leading the a good way to include staff, limit the size technology planning effort. This is because of the tech planning group, and most often in thee situations, the technology planning importantly spot issues that may arise on process is being driven by more than a desire the committee later. to talk about technology. If the process is driven by an access to justice committee or other similar planning effort, then executive In creating the principals, consider these directors need to be represented and involved words of wisdom: at some level, but can more easily delegate • Nerds don’t necessarily make for the authority and responsibility to others in their good planners. The first inclination program with more investment – administrators of many tech planning bodies is to and advocates who are tech-interested. amass all the techies you can find and NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 11
  12. 12. Pearl of Wisdom: naysayers in your group. They bring a grounding effect to the excitement “The people on our technology committees of technology efforts. (It will be were support staffs with a lot of technical experience, techie people themselves, deputy important, however, to guard against directors or administrators, and attorneys or spending every meeting defending advocates interested in technology. This was technology in general.) very helpful because the administrator has a • Leaders, Hardcore Techie, and close relationship to the executive director. Ambassadors. While not every group Advocates and attorneys also have influence needs all of these roles covered, a over their EDs. I think a lot of executive directors are hearing from administrators and advocates, group will work more strongly if the which helps them make sound decisions on power of three’s is observed. tech options and solutions that will help our First, every group needs a heavy – a clients.” Leader. S/He is well-respected in legal services and provides leadership put them in one room. Remember, to the group. S/He is involved in your tech plan has to follow the planning at a statewide level for larger strategic objectives of the the delivery of legal services and statewide planning body. Unless understands funding issues and your techies have experience in legal politics. This person is versed in services and client work, they may the gaps in the delivery systems and come up with a plan that is hard to can help make decisions happen. A read, not based on the direction of Leader may be one person or team of legal services, and be amateur. An persons, likely an Executive Director. advocate with some good experience in legal services who understands Second, there is the Hardcore Techie. technology (or is not afraid of it) is As much as you don’t want a gaggle essential to the success of this group. of these in your group, you do need at least one. Get over that fact this • Don’t fear the Luddites. Many of kid is younger than (and may even us despise technology for its own be dating) your son. Inexperience sake. Don’t fear these people. There in life won’t hurt the techie for your will always be a tension that legal purposes - others in the group will aid programs need to address: for more than make up for that. But, a every dollar spent on computers, a hardcore techie who understands the dollar could have been spent on an technology - the practicalities and attorney, paralegal, intake worker, the possibilities - is worth her weight etc. In a world of scarce funding in Itanium 2 processors. These days for legal aid, you’ll need to justify you should be able to find a couple any technology you recommend as of these on staff in your constituency; actually enhancing service to the whether in a legal aid program, the poor. Any hint of a “Technology bar, related government agencies, or Wish List” in your plan will render a private firm. Note: Your hardcore it un-credible in a larger planning or even administrator should not be a process and may kill it. One way to vendor and should not be married to ensure your plan actually meets the a vendor. objectives of improving services to the poor and increasing staff efficiency Lastly, every group needs an is to include well-known technology Ambassador – part catalyst, part- 12 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  13. 13. facilitator. The ambassador inspires job description. What you will ultimately the team to move ahead and keep to need to help you plan will depend on your task, reigns in ideological debates, situation and the resources devoted to the pushes through bureaucracy, effort by the committee. translates opinions, and smoothes the discussion. With any luck, this Staffing person(s) deliver the group to its best Everyone has the best intentions, but we’re dynamic. already overworked. You can see from the Sidebar that many programs used The Constituency: Also known as a volunteer committee to plan. In most stakeholders, the Constituency group Is of these interviews, however, it was clear comprised of those who have a measurable that there was a “someone” – one person interest in the technology planning whose job description changed in order to process. They are involved in larger, less make time regular meetings. Their input is sought to manage Pearl of Wisdom: on larger issues and main planning the planning “Our planning process has milestones. See Who is in the Group process. been very successful until this for more information on who forms a A purely point where we now need constituency. volunteer to actually identify specific effort technical recommendations to meet our objectives. The Convening the Group can make lesson learned for us is to use A kick-off meeting is usually a good way meeting outside help in this area when to start an effort. States have used the deadlines we need it.” following approaches to convene meetings nearly across distances: impossible. • Statewide (Technology) Conference: Whether done by a staff person whose Invite representatives from the responsibilities change to include this new chosen constituencies to a one or project or by a paid consultant, you need a two day conference or event. A key sparkplug to ignite the group and keep it component of the conference could moving. While the rest of the committee be the initial meeting of the planning can volunteer, one person who is paid or group. recognized as being responsible for the process should be designated to draft the • Statewide (Technology) Taskforce: plan, circulate it for comment, incorporate A one-day meeting that invites the the comments, and convene the meetings. attendees to begin charting the Depending on the state planning effort course of your planning efforts is also and politics, this does not need to be a full- effective. time job. Staffing and Budgeting for Words of Wisdom About Consultants A planning consultant and/or a the Planning Process technology consultant can be useful to a There are as many options to staff the committee that lacks expertise in a certain planning process as there are plans. area and/or needs facilitated discussions. Full-time, part-time. Consultant or staff. Alternately, a technology consultant can Staff with a new job description. New be used at key points to help provide hire. And our favorite: staff with same guidance and options to a committee that NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 13
  14. 14. has articulated the goals of technology. Survey says…On Staffing the Planning For example, many executive directors Process know a bit about technology, but are not familiar with tech concepts. It is great for • “It was a volunteer effort.” them to come up with specific goals, but • “No outside people were used for when it comes down to specific technology articulating our goals. Once they were recommendations, you likely will need a articulated and we received funding, we technology person to provide that input. brought in a consultant to help us flesh out Outside consultants are an obvious choice specific technology recommendations for for those groups who can’t find this the goals and general cost estimates.” expertise among internal staff members. • “We had a staff person from the access to A word of advice: Outside consultants are justice board initially who helped take the used to dealing with for-profit companies minutes and coordinate the meetings. It with large budgets. Make sure you find didn’t take more than that. The rest was a someone who knows the non-profit arena volunteer effort.” and knows not to “shoot for the stars.” • “Assuming you are talking about a merger A good place to start looking for a or a large project, I think you need a full- consultant is the National Technology time person to oversee the planning and Assistance Project ( the implementation. If you cannot afford this person for the whole planning process, ntap), the LStech.Org listserv you definitely need a full-time person to (, and other non- manage the timeline, track expenditures, profit consultant email lists, such as Riders and implement the plan – especially if your and Compumentor (See Appendices for expenditures will exceed a couple hundred more information). thousand dollars.” • “The first two years the project was staffed Budgeting for the Process by a technology coordinator full-time, who Planning takes time and money. You’ll facilitated the meetings. It remained unclear need to do a simple planning budget. who had authority.” One of the first orders of business will be to determine how much is needed your budgeting process include: staffing, to help staff the process and potentially administrative support and coordination, afford outside help in finite, select times. conference calls and meetings, travel or These resource allocations can be “soft” transportation expenses, consultants, and expenditures (e.g. Program X will staff the other (copies, etc.). committee with administrative support) or “hard” expenditures (e.g. Program Y will pay out-of-pocket for the conference calls, The Mission and Vision of or $300 is needed by each partner to pay the Group: Assess the Value for an outside consultant). A commitment will be needed by all programs to fund and of Technology complete the planning phase of statewide Planning is not an end unto itself; it must technology support. If your committee be with purpose. To ensure that serving does not fully understand the value of the poor drives your technology plan, you this investment, consider other phases have to give some thought to: goals first, of the checklist first (i.e. Mission and needs second, technology third. Vision of Committee and Assessing the Value of Technology). Items to include in “Mission and Vision?” These words alone 14 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  15. 15. can make a committee groan. But, for a borrow from TechSoup’s definition or use it technology planning committee in a legal as a starting point: services setting, it is Pearl of Wisdom: “Technology is understood comprehensively an important “When a critical mass of to include purchases, leases, maintenance, step toward decision-makers are not training, and supporting supplies in effective present at the technology the electronic information technologies planning. planning table, key members encompassing: 1) interactive often opt out of participation Your group telecommunications equipment, 2) computers when it starts to look and is comprised and related materials, copying machines, feel too “geeky.” Make sure of many the decision-makers are at telecommunications equipment, and other people the table. Take the meetings non-instructional equipment, and 3) assistive who define to them if they won’t attend technology or equipment for instructional technology outright; keep them informed.” programs.” differently and who 3. Assess the Value of Technology: understand it at varying degrees. We Assessing the relative value of a certain recommend four basic approaches to technology tool or strategy is complex. lay the groundwork for buy-in, align the Ultimately, to assess the full value of group toward the same goals, and ensure technology, a program or collaborative the planning body understands the of programs must be able to describe importance of the work. the benefit to the organization in terms framed by its mission, strategy and 1. Outline the Responsibilities of the program. Without a specific under- Committee: Make sure everyone knows standing of how technology can help what needs to get done and in what your organization or your state justice timeframe. Generally, responsibilities of a community to achieve its unique mission, planning committee are to: it will be difficult to make the right • Create a plan for the Statewide Tech strategic and purchasing decisions. Support and Training and/or to help Join Merging Programs, Consider the following questions to help you think more methodically about value • Include technology objectives within of technology: that plan that integrate technology with larger goals around service • How can improved information delivery, and communications create new opportunities that improve our ability • Provide the braintrust for the initial to advocate for our clients? Litigate, Implementation of the Plan (staffing, negotiate, represent? Provide hiring, and oversight), and information? • Evaluate the progress of the plan and • How can partnerships and the end product. collaboration be strengthened using technology for the benefit of our 2. Define Technology: Your committee clients? For improved efficiencies and should be on the same page about what economies of scale? technology means in relation to the planning. The plan should include the • How can technology improve our definition you come up with. You can likely programs’ visibility to our clients, NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 15
  16. 16. funders, and other partners? equalize the opportunities afforded • How can technology increase our by technology to all programs in efficiencies locally and maximize the state. A technology inventory existing resources across the state? helps you first identify what you have in each program across the • How can technology help deliver state, what resources are available, more services to clients? Help what equipment capacity exists, advocates manage their cases? what is underused, and what needs • How can technology help streamline to be replaced or improved. By paperwork, administration, reporting taking this step, you can help avoid requirements, and other similar buying redundant technologies or activities? incompatible technologies, and you can help assess which of your current 4. Develop a Simple Mission and Vision: technology is obsolete. We’re not experts on mission or vision There are several tools available statements. There are as many sample and for individual programs to easily variations as there are people. But, the do a technology inventory. basics are straight-forward. The mission TechSurveyor is an online tool statement of the organization should powered by NPower.Org (http: include purpose, constituents served/ // targeted populations, and services. It that helps a program keep track of should reference larger missions of your its technology and create a baseline justice community to help low-income report of what exists in an office/ persons. A sample is included: Survey Says…On Visions and Goals of Sample Mission of Tech Planning the Committee or Planning Process Committee: Develop, oversee • “The purpose was to create a common implementation of, and coordinate vision about technology in the access to relevant technology plans and justice community.” initiatives to fulfill the vision. • “The theoretical purpose was to allow the merging entities and others to exchange Sample Vision: Ensure access for low information and data.” and moderate-income residents to the civil justice system through high • “The purpose was a bit of a struggle. One quality legal services and self-help group wanted to focus on cutting edge technologies for the future. Another group opportunities. wanted to start with the fundamentals. There was always a tension around the implication of spending money on Assess What You Have and technology: are we taking away money Define What You Need for lawyers and lawyering?” Now, it’s time for the nitty-gritty. No more • “In the beginning, we looked at each big picture and abstractions. To plan for other’s tech plans and saw that they were very specific with technology, but didn’t where you’re headed, you have to assess have a vision piece that was important what you have and what you need. to us. What we wanted was a shared 1. A Technology Inventory: One of the vision and have an agreed-upon plan for goals of most technology plans is to achieving that.” 16 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  17. 17. program. It offers a simplistic Check- call attention to the real issue that is Up to help a program correct obvious not being addressed.) Something deficiencies. as simple as doing a technology Additionally, if you prefer the inventory can be perceived by those manual version, TechSoup (http: who disagree with your process or // has several technology investments suspiciously articles that outline step-by-step, what as a back-door way to “embarrass” hardware and software to inventory programs, skew funding decisions, and what information to capture. and potentially take future decision-making control away Whether your committee elects to from a program that had slower implement an inventory among computers or primitive networks programs using these methods or due to a technology policy. Even your own, each program should the programs that are ahead of the inventory existing hardware, software, curve could be suspicious that the Internet service, networks, and other survey could somehow divert chunks tech equipment (video conferencing of their potential future funding technology, etc.). This list should away to programs that had not made outline what needs to be replaced or the same prior investment. All this improved. simply to say that “equalization” is not In addition to equipment, you’ll automatically seen as a good thing. need to inventory your staff resources But, this problem can be overcome across the state. What technology somewhat easily if you’re aware of it. skills does your staff have? Who do Assess your political situation and be people within each office/program sensitive to the undertones before rely on for tech support? Who is able happily recommending a the goals of to trouble-shoot, install, or manage a technology inventory. If you face technology? (See TechSoup for extreme resistance, it is best to use an sample Technology Organizational NTAP consultant or outside facilitator Assessment Worksheets, or use the to help your committee address the online tool TechSurveyor.) real issues at-hand and safeguard Lesson Learned: A Word of Caution on programs’ fears. the Tech Inventory: This step sounds easy and innocuous. That’s the point 2. Define Your Needs: You want of this manual – make it seem easy. buy-in? You want technology that But, there are cautionary tales that actually makes better advocates? might be of value to you. Technology This is where you begin: a statewide can be a scapegoat for unresolved Technology Needs Survey. If you don’t visions or ideas on planning or want a bunch of nerds or funders service delivery. (This is good news, telling you what you need, you need by the way. If you notice something to let the people speak. A survey is a is an especially heated debate when great way to assess the current state of talking about immovable objects like technology in each program in your computers, generally a good time state and to find out what people to realize you’ll not make headway think will help them be most efficient trying to decide on those immovable and effective in serving clients. objects, and instead step away and Publishing the results of the survey NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 17
  18. 18. will help inform the field about the Sample Mission of Tech Planning goals and plan. Committee: Develop, oversee Note: This does not have to be a big implementation of, and coordinate production: distribute the survey relevant technology plans and and tabulate the results. It shouldn’t initiatives to fulfill the vision. take longer than three months from receiving the survey results Sample Vision: Ensure access for low and writing your plan. Be warned and moderate-income residents to however that if you don’t integrate the civil justice system through high the results of the survey into a written quality legal services and self-help plan in a timely manner, your report opportunities. will be stale. Sample Goals: 1. Achieve technology equity Explore Solutions among legal services and pro bono programs to enable all Assessing How to Integrate staff to have access to same resources and most effectively Technology with Your Objectives serve clients. Exploring solutions means understanding what problems need to be fixed and what 2. Increase capacity of options might be available to you to meet infrastructure to provide equal your goals and visions. You now have the opportunities to access legal mission and vision articulate. You also services for rural clients. have a needs 3. Increase pro bono opportunities survey from Pearl of Wisdom in rural communities. the field. “We spent too much time jumping into the ‘how’ stage, 4. Increase number of attorney You can hours spent on representation now outline instead of starting with the ‘what’ and ‘why’ stages.” by improving efficiencies of case specific acceptance criteria and intake technology delivery systems. strategies to meet objectives. Technology should not drive the decision 5. Increase staff productivity making. Rather, decisions should be made and reduce frustration with based on the goals and needs you have technology that isn’t working outlined to improve the delivery of legal well (e.g. couldn’t use case services. management or computer or phone system). Reduce time For example, sample goals, objectives, and spent by all programs managing strategies might be: redundant technologies. 6. Create opportunities for clients With the vision articulated, the planning who never enter legal assistance committee should be able to discuss circles to access needed legal specific goals and strategies that are services from more portals and specific and measurable, to achieve the points of entry via technology. vision. 7. Creating a stable platform from which our delivery systems 18 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  19. 19. and legal services can grow Spend some time looking at your goals and expand with changing and creating questions that help you technologies. answer how technology can help and what issues need to be addressed. Use these Sample Strategies questions with your planning committee 1. Tech Equity: Ensure a standard to explore options and solutions to level of a personal computer existing service delivery problems. Once that is linked to a printer, with you have explored these topics, you can desktop email capabilities and prioritize your solutions, needs, and goals access to the Internet is available according to your mission and objectives. on every advocate’s desk. Representatives of all stakeholders need to be involved in the process. To help formulate these objectives, consider the problems, needs, and vision. Ask yourselves questions that help Develop a Concrete Plan integrate technology in the solution of those problems. For example: Once you have assessed your resources and defined your needs, the next step is • How could technology be used to to make a concrete plan for how to meet improve the sharing of information those needs. This phase of technology of cases among advocates (i.e. case planning requires the most technical management systems)? knowledge. If you don’t have this on staff • What educational technology or or among your team, you might consider Internet services might be offered to some type of expert advice and assistance. our client community? Now and in the next five years? Pearl of Wisdom • How can technology support To actually “I think the lesson we learned develop a was the value of a regrouping appropriate referrals of cases to non- to test our assumptions about legal aid program partners? concrete technology and our plans plan, • How can technology offer a portal or for it. [A regrouping lets us] you’ll need see what will actually work mechanism to encourage the timely someone and what won’t before we and central distribution of advocacy who’ll implement a technology full- training information, briefs, advocacy actually scale or unveil a plan to do so. strategies to improve statewide write it and [This regrouping] lets us test our advocacy coordination and efforts? circulate it assumptions, and allows others • How can technology help provide widely for to see what is happening and extended services to rural review and helps bring people slowly on- populations? feedback board.” • Increase pro bono opportunities in among rural communities. (Note: According your principals and constituencies. Many to our interviews, there are surprising resources exist in finding a consultant opportunities for new funding and developing a written product. See and new partnerships through appendices for more information on collaboration with rural libraries, NTAP and TechSoup’s sources. Also, we other rural-focused non-profits, and provide you with some possible specific rural bar associations themselves.) components of a written technology plan NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 19
  20. 20. in a later section entitled, oddly enough, comment on your plan. But, don’t make Components of Your Tech Plan. the “Re-circling of the Wagons” step the first opportunity for them to do so. Your Re-circle the Wagons planning process will have much better success if this is not the only time you get buy-in from these folks. Re-circling the When the plan is being written or even wagons needs to happen along the way as first drafts are making their way to the with every major draft. Doing so will allow printer, it is not yet time for celebration. your final meeting to be cause for modest Make sure you re-circle the wagons and and enjoyable review, not painful debate, get buy-in. Pearl of Wisdom or even worse, gutting. Executive directors “We look for local, statewide, or corporate funders who and others donate equipment or make Funding and Sustainability who have small grants. Other sources not been have been IOLTA funders and involved in Technology private foundations, especially plans are Pearl of Wisdom the daily if they participated in the activated “Sustainability means building processes planning process.” of planning by funding, technology into the budget. and your We don’t do separate will need fundraising for it; it is just a an opportunity to comment on and partners are built-in part of doing business. become aware of intended plans. Re- key. The For the statewide website, circling the wagons may mean holding more impact however, we approach that a larger meeting for more discussion on these plans differently. We have several what you already thought you discussed. have on other entities that come to the This process, while hard to stomach after improving table and join together to seek the service out funding options. We look so much participation, is critical. These delivery at the state filing fee surcharge constituencies will help allow your plan system of to help support this.” – Tim to come to fruition. They can help you Kelso, Nebraska. assess if the plan actually will be perceived the state, as achieving service objectives. They will the more also comment on whether or not it is willing most funders will be to support the realistic given timing, staffing, and budget effort. Foundations, private technology constraints. companies, and the private bar are all obvious starts for fundraising. Your Pearl of Wisdom Note: We technology committee and the larger state “Don’t forget about other strongly planning body should also brainstorm community partners! Many encourage its contacts and fundraising oppor- interviewed noted that direct you to create collaboration with other non- tunities available through its contacts. a formal legal aid partners, like senior Many interviewed were successful in process for centers, domestic violence receiving awards or grants from state bar directors shelters, rural libraries, and foundations, IOLTA grants, Legal Services and others other social service agencies Corporation, and private foundation receive positive funder grants. in your response, especially from constituency locally based community to officially foundations.” review and 20 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  21. 21. Develop an Action Plan Survey Says...How would you recommend staffing the implementation So, you have a plan and you have of statewide tech support? identified how to support it. We’re now One State Program: We looked at two at a critical point of departure – either options – in-house and outsourcing. We had the great plan gets celebrated amongst an in house person who didn’t have the skills to handle this type of job. And we looked friends and then {gasp} filed away! OR it at hiring someone who would be a network gets implemented. You need to keep the administrator. The other thing with a statewide group’s momentum to ensure you create program is that you have to be able to fix an Action Plan that outlines how you will things 500 miles away. We could have them staff the effort, ensure timelines are met, drive there, so ultimately we went with a and that results are seen. Developing modified ASP. We all have virtual desktop. a full-scale action plan can be the first Part of the package included a help desk and responsibility of someone you hire to we are able to get a phenomenal turn around implement it. The best decisions your time on our request. Our negotiation led to committee can make at this point are on: a price far less than that of adding a full time staffing, priorities, and phases. person. Staffing the Action Plan Multi state program: We have a full-time This is different from staffing the planning person to handle state support, and each office has computer responsible persons with whom process. In the planning process you he works. need someone who is great with people, a good organizer, understands the issues whether a planning committee elects to of executive directors and translates tech, build the systems and have the technology and most importantly, can inspire a group expertise in-house. Generally in larger to succeed in planning. Now, you need organizations, it might be more cost someone who staffs the plan. They know effective to outsource, given the number more about technology and can make and type of technologies included and the decisions to implement actual networks, geographic area to be covered. If your and oversee other purchasing, installation, committee needs help in determining the and design of systems. They are best staffing, let an NTAP consultant help responsible for ensuring training happens, you tailor your plan to the staffing you’ll support is delivered, and a statewide best need. technology plan is phased and rolled out. If you’re hiring a Coordinator to be the There are many staffing options: full-time state technology support after the plan devoted staff support to planning and is drafted, you might need a different implementation; part-time staff support; person than before. These responsibilities in-kind support. The right answer will include: carrying out the plan, establishing depend on whether you are a one- networks, overseeing purchases, training, program or multi-program state, your plan and installations; managing CRPs across objectives and timeline, your funding, and the state; and recommending best your priorities. technology options to meet the objectives in the plan. For this position, you can hire Full consideration is needed when a techie or a legal-aider. See LStech.Org deciding whether or not to outsource the for sample job descriptions (http:// technology services and maintenance or NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 21
  22. 22. for sample statewide Pearl of Wisdom tech job descriptions). See sidebar for one “When hiring a Statewide program’s advice. Technology Coordinator, you’d like someone who has Responsibilities of a Technology actually worked in a legal Coordinator services office and has strong If you’re hiring a statewide tech technology skills. However, if coordinator, pay close attention to your forced to chose between legal services experience and tech job description. If you need someone in skills I’d recommend your first the early stages of planning and convening hire be a legal services person. constituencies and principals, focus your You can always bring in a hiring strategy on getting someone who “real” techie with your second is NOT a techie, but instead a manager hire, pull from your volunteer of people and projects. This person will pool or as a consultant. You need a gift of facilitation, credibility in the should also clearly define legal aid community, and understanding this role and responsibilities of client service objectives, and the and publicize it to the field. ability to bridge different viewpoints One or even a handful of from techie to ED. Someone from the people cannot provide all the technology support needed in legal aid community works great in these the field so be careful to define positions. They should have a comfort with the limits.” technology, but certainly doesn’t need to be a geek, nerd, or even MS-Certified. Evaluate Your Efforts A lot has been written about evaluation of projects and its importance. We’re here simply to tell you that it is important especially with technology in order to gauge your success and apply for future funding. It helps justify to Luddites the power of these investments, and helps reign in the techie’s shopping spree by holding it accountable to improving your state’s services and efficiencies. We have provided in the appendices an excerpt from Minnesota’s School and Libraries Technology Planning resources that describes potential processes and the value of evaluating these types of technology planning efforts specifically. Also, look for references to general evaluation resources on LStech.Org ( and at TechSoup ( 22 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  23. 23. Appendices
  24. 24. Components of Your Tech Plan The tech plan is really a product of your committee’s work. We have provided some possible plan components based on those we reviewed. You can mix and match to meet the needs of your state. Also, remember that you’ll need to prioritize and likely implement in phases. Components At-A-Glance • Staffing State Technology Support – State Support Entity or Outsourced Help – CRPs in every office – On-Going Technology Steering Committee • Technology Equity: Minimum Hardware and Software Standards for all Offices • Communication Infrastructure Pearl of Wisdom on Key – Internet access for all employees from desktop Components of a Tech Plan – Email accounts for all “The first piece is to clearly identify what it is you are – Statewide website for advocates trying to accomplish. And • Improved Case Handling and Maintenance on Advocacy that needs to be done in as much detail as possible. I Software: think the reason for that is that – Standard Case Management System for Programs in things can take on a life of State their own. Unless you have a clearly defined goal, these – Statewide website for advocates (see above) things can go a-field and you • Training will end up spending a lot of – CRPs money. Another key component to the process is that initial – Users decisions should be made as – Staffing for Training to which programs you are wedded to and design systems • Group Purchasing accordingly. You cannot have • Program Technology Planning, Policy, and Budgeting a system and then find out it is incompatible with your case – Plans for disaster, security management system.” – Policies for computer use, maintenance, upgrades, and help – Budgeting, inventories, and future planning • Improved Services to Clients – Statewide website for clients – Self-help technologies or assisted self help services using technology 24 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  25. 25. State Technology Support on initiatives at least quarterly will be often necessary in meeting the goals of the Structure technology plan. Statewide Technology Support Staff 4. On-going Technology Steering There are several options for this position: Committee Consider having an oversight in-house or outsource. See Develop entity to provide accountability and an Action Plan for sidebar notes and provide input on the progress of your plan comments on staffing this position. If you to keep it fresh. The composition should have some sort of state support entity in be similar the initial planning group if not your state consider housing your statewide a little smaller. This group meets regularly tech support staff here or at a field to track progress of, and provide input on, program. You want the person to be as tech initiatives. This group will also report connected to the field as possible. to the field and do future planning. Some states have chosen a more Minimum Hardware and Software centralized support model that delivers Standards for all Programs a full range of tech support (i.e. In your tech action plan, you’ll need to system administration, help desk, tech agree on a minimum set of hardware purchasing, etc.) from an in-house and software necessary to carry out your centralized entity. Consider consulting objectives. The action plan would then with Legal Services of New Jersey or outline a phased approach to ensure that reviewing their plan if you favor this all programs meet that standard. This option. Others, like Nebraska, have doesn’t necessarily mean buying programs chosen to outsource most of the tech a lot of hardware and software. Meeting support function and found this cost the minimum standards could be required effective. See sidebar on Develop an Action for their participation (receipt of funding) Plan. in other funded projects. As part of this process, each program will likely need 2. CRP in Every Office Because you to do, or already have done, their own cannot hope to meet all the technology individual technology inventory. (See support needs centrally, your plan Assess What You Have.) should call for the establishment of a network of local Computer Responsible Persons (CRPs). A CRP is the staff Communication person, designated by the program, Infrastructure who serves as the front-line of support on statewide technology initiatives and 1. Internet Access for all Employees at attends technology taskforce meetings and their Desktop Almost all offices now trainings on behalf of the office. This may have some form of Internet access, but be an advocate, support staff, or real tech – depending on the needs of the office support person (if an office has the luxury – not all access is meaningful. Some still of having one on staff), but should be depend on dial-up access and this may be someone that isn’t afraid of computers. too slow to encourage communication or information exchange. Most action plans 3. Periodic CRP Meeting Gathering the devise an approach to bring meaningful CRPs for training, updates, and feedback internet to every office. NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 25
  26. 26. information on the web site coordinator in For more information on broadband, your state. Wide Area Networks, Virtual Private Networks, Application Service Providers, and other networking issues that may Statewide Case Management affect these discussions, you can elect to Software (CMS) Standard bring in a consultant, call or email NTAP for help, or consult online resources at ( Some All legal services programs have a need of these options also provide an avenue for an effective case management system for case management data sharing among to assist staff and pro bono attorneys offices within a program. in collecting, managing, utilizing, and reporting on client and case information. 2. Email Accounts for All The value The theory is that by agreeing to use one of email as communication tool hardly version of a CMS package in a state, you needs to be explained. For email use to gain by improving the economies of scale. be meaningful, it must be available at the For example, if a statewide funder requires desktop, and each staff must have their a new statistical report, it only needs to be own account. Statewide email accounts written once in order for it to be shared by for all staff is easily and cheaply attainable all programs using the software. You could once Internet access is in place in every also develop the substantive features of office. Options here include hosting your case management (like substantive intake own statewide email/web server or renting questions or form pleadings) once, and the service from a web hosting company. share costs among the programs. 3. Statewide Website A statewide The theory makes sense, but getting all website is tool to improve inter-program programs in your state to agree on a resource sharing. It is the perfect way preferred case management package could to provide general statewide support be as challenging as herding cats. A few because you make information available tips: via everyone’s desktop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Statewide websites also 1. Although a clear preference has centralize information for advocates on emerged among legal services brief banks, processes, advocacy strategies, providers across the country information on other programs and (Kemp’s), you may need to put as services, and notices of trainings and other much effort into picking the software professional development opportunities. as you do in implementing and LSC TIG grants have been awarded to supporting it. You may need to pilot at least 47 states and territories to help a few choices for a few months and kickstart statewide websites that are built then make a recommendation. Do on one of two templates. Every statewide not forget factors such as training tech plan should include a component staff on a new system, reporting to get all programs involved in these features and capability, and software sites and plan for future sustainability costs and changes. (A report is about and sufficient staffing of this initiative to to be released through the Legal Aid deliver meaningful content. See http: Society of East Tennessee that reviews // existing CMS programs. Look for it dev/statewide_templates for contact 26 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  27. 27. on when considering a likely to succeed is to go to the advocates change.) and users themselves. Try to schedule on- site training for staff when you are out in 2. Think long and hard before trying to the field doing an installation or support. develop your own CMS for the state. None of the current options are 3. Staffing Presumably statewide tech perfect, but developing software takes support can handle a large part of either many, many hours and much money. conducting the training or arranging for Many have tried this option over outside trainers. However, don’t assume the years. Few of these versions still that just because someone knows the remain. One program who is one of technology, they can train it. Techies are the lone survivors simply states that if notoriously bad trainers. Especially for they knew now what they didn’t know training staff and users of technology, we then, they would not have chosen recommend choosing an advocate who has that option. . a basic understanding of the technology For more information on deciding what over a techie eight times out of ten. system is right for you, please see materials on LStech.Org at resource_lib/software/case_manage, and Group Purchasing From computer assisted legal research (Westlaw or Lexis) to communications Training infrastructure to desktop computers, a number of states have found there is A successful technology plan must purchasing power in numbers. However, consider some degree of training for this just doesn’t happen on its own. It both CRPs and users. Tech support that is takes considerable effort to organize housed at a state support entity can help programs and then negotiate with vendors. provide logistical support for the training This effort needs to be adequately because they are staffed to do it in other staffed and could be included as part of areas. the job description of a statewide tech coordinator. Be sure and start with 1. CRPs If you want local CRPs to be the something easy like desktops before you first line of support for your plan (and you tackle something like communications do want this – desperately), you have to infrastructure. Check LStech.Org for train them. They are easy to train because recent news on any discounts that may you can work a training component into have been negotiated nationally (e.g. your periodic statewide CRP meeting or Citrix). hold an annual statewide tech conference as some states do. Program Technology 2. Users Most end users are harder to Planning, Budgeting and get to tech trainings. You can try tacking tech training on to the beginning or end Policy of other substantive training events that advocates usually attend. Another more You can only move along at the lowest costly (for trainers) approach that is more common denominator. In order to NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 27
  28. 28. meaningfully participate in your plan, programs need to get their own ducks in a row locally. This means, they should adopt their own tech plan and budget, which ensures integration of the statewide plan at a program level. Most programs don’t have these and could use some help getting there first one in place. There are a number of planning and budgeting tools out there, but training and assistance will go along way to making this happen. See TechSoup, NPower, LStech.Org, and NTAP for help on individual tech plans for offices and programs. In addition, at a statewide level and local level, you’ll need to develop strategies to have secure relay of information, ease of operation post-disaster, and protocols for how to maintain and upgrade equipment. Involving staff at the local level on these types of protocol developments will also enable your state support to identify technical areas that need to be planned for in the future. 28 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual
  29. 29. Self-help Technologies / Orange County’s I-CAN!™ site (http:// Client-Focused Technologies LiveJustice and Internet Chat While many programs do not invest in Massachusetts has piloted a legal chat for client focused technologies in the early clients online, where – after completing phases of state technology planning, it is an online application – users can get legal a critical piece to a statewide technology help on their problem through chatting plan. Trends from the 2000 U.S. Census with an advocate. suggest that 25% of our client community already uses the Internet and that low- These are some starters. Other programs income persons are the fastest-growing have developed other types of plans to users on the Internet. As more and more improve or expand self help services government applications, services, and through technology. Contact NTAP economic opportunities are available for more assistance or referral to other online, legal services has a responsibility to pioneers in this effort. offer its services easily to clients over the Internet; to ensure that material created for the Internet is usable by our client community; and advocate for our clients to be given access to the Internet and the economic opportunities it more and more affords. There are several approaches to using technology to provide help to clients with their legal needs. Statewide Websites As explained above, statewide websites act as a portal for clients, and can provide them with a repository for legal information, referral, and general assistance online. There is a myriad of material available for statewide website coordinators on content development for clients. For more information on these websites, visit http: // and ntap/trainings. Self Help Systems Document assembly systems, like I-CAN!™ or those being created using Hotdocs©, allow users to answer simple questions and complete court proceedings. For more information on these systems, visit LStech.Org (http: // and Legal Aid Society of NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual 29
  30. 30. Resources, Links, and Contacts Background or Materials on Technology in Legal Services • • Future of Technology in Legal Services, Gabrielle Hammond and Ellis Jacobs • Equal Justice and the Digital Revolution, Julia Gordon (Project for the Future of Equal Justice) • LS Technology for Newbies, Steve Gray Technology Inventory and Planning for Individual Programs • LStech.Org • NPower TechSurveyor • TechSoup Tech Inventory Technology Needs Assessment Samples • Tech Soup Technology Planning of Minnesota Schools and Libraries • Consultant Query or Find • National Technology Assistance Project • LStech.Org • LStech email list • Riders and Compumentor email list • TechSoup Budgeting for Technology • LStech.Org • TechSoup 30 NTAP’s Statewide Technology Planning Manual