Last week, I sat in on a meeting discussing ‘Planting the Vine.’ The ‘Vine’ is a database and web application that was developed over many years at my work. It tracks just about everything related to clients here at my work: client data, group and activity history, volunteer roles and activity, event planning, attendance, donations, online registration, etc. Maybe 6 months ago, a couple of volunteers here came to the IT department with a great idea (and one that we internally had already been beginning to consider). What if we packaged the Vine in a way that could be delivered to other similar, but smaller organizations (that maybe didn’t have enough resources on their own to create something like this)? There have been many meetings over the last 6 months and this meeting last week was the most recent.
It seems that there is always going to be a management/administration side and a technical/development side on projects. The 3 volunteers that originally approached our IT department are developers, some self-employed, and definitely leaning more into the technical side of things.
Our IT department represents the management/administration side (as I see it currently). Things like a business plan (this endeavor may require a 501(c)(3) organization to be set up), cost analysis, pricing, approving further developments, approving modifications, and making presentations or recommendations to interested organizations fall in this camp.
One of the things I have been thinking about this week is the balance between management and administration and the technical and programming worlds. Technical experts need to understand the basics of management, cost-benefit studies, and articulating ideas and plans to upper management (who ultimately approves funding for projects), while management and administration experts need to understand the basics of the technical side – time & labor requirements for coding, coding logic, caching options, hosting options and costs, testing requirements, and different methodologies for development.