Keys to managing IT in a smaller nonprofit

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Tim Lockie has been in nonprofits and tech for over 20 years. Over the last decade, he founded Now IT Matters and The Human Stack, dedicated to helping small nonprofits succeed with their technology. 

View this webinar on nonprofit digital health, for anyone who needs to manage nonprofit IT.

Humans first, then technology

Tim wants to change the narrative on nonprofit IT by showing how even the smallest nonprofits can get a handle on their tech AND human stack. This workshop is centered on people – how the people at your organization FEEL about technology is going to be fundamental to how you are able to USE technology. 

As with all our webinars, this presentation is appropriate for an audience of varied IT experience.

Community IT is proudly vendor-agnostic and our webinars cover a range of topics and discussions. Webinars are never a sales pitch, always a way to share our knowledge with our community.

Get some expert help in learning the steps to take to manage your IT in this nonprofit digital health workshop.


Tim Lockie

Tim Lockie has been in nonprofits and tech for over 20 years, founding Now IT Matters and The Human Stack, dedicated to helping small nonprofits succeed with their technology.

As a former Salesforce MVP and Partner, Equality Partner, and Microsoft Partner, his experiences have shown him the impact of system deficiencies on organizations. That’s why he is passionate about creating access to Digital Transformation for all nonprofits, regardless of size.

In 2021, Tim developed and launched Digital Guidance®, a methodology designed to move nonprofits from tech-resistant to tech-resilient and transform the nonprofit industry into a human-centered digital space.

Carolyn Woodard webinar nonprofit digital health workshop

Carolyn Woodard is currently head of Marketing and Outreach at Community IT Innovators. She has served many roles at Community IT, from client to project manager to marketing. With over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit world, including as a nonprofit technology project manager and Director of IT at both large and small organizations, Carolyn knows the frustrations and delights of working with technology professionals, accidental techies, executives, and staff to deliver your organization’s mission and keep your IT infrastructure operating. She has a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University and received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Williams College. She is happy to be moderating this webinar.

Check back here after the webinar for the transcript, video and podcast in case you miss this webinar: Nonprofit Digital Health Workshop.


Carolyn Woodard: Thank you so much for joining us for our Community IT’s webinar. We are presenting today a Nonprofit Digital Health Workshop with Tim Lockie from The Human Stack. I’m going to let Tim introduce himself in a moment. 

I’m going to introduce this workshop by saying, we are aiming it at smaller nonprofits with under 15 staff members.You might not think you can manage your IT needs unless you are an IT person. Some of you may have someone on staff who absorbed this responsibility. Maybe you are the accidental techie. Maybe there is really no one in your nonprofit who feels comfortable managing IT, but someone had to do it and it ended up being you. If so, you’ve come to the right place today.

Tim has come to talk with us about some strategies and approaches to help walk you through and gain the confidence to be able to make IT decisions and we’re going to talk about some free resources and next steps today. 

My name is Carolyn Woodard. I’m the Outreach Director for Community IT, and I’m the moderator today and a million years ago, I was the accidental techie in charge of IT in a very small nonprofit. I really wish I had had a friend like Tim to reassure me that I could do it and to walk me through what to do, the first steps to take, where to start. So, I’m very, very happy to have him here today.

Before I turn it over to Tim, if you’re not familiar with Community IT, I’m going to give you a little bit more about us. We are a 100% employee-owned managed services provider. We provide outsourced IT support and we work exclusively with nonprofit organizations. Our mission is to help nonprofits accomplish their missions through the effective use of technology. We’re big fans of what well-managed IT can do for your nonprofit. 

We serve nonprofits across the United States. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years and we are technology experts. We are consistently given the MSP 501 recognition for being a top MSP, which is an honor we received again in 2023. I want to remind everyone that for these webinars, Community IT is vendor agnostic. So, we only make recommendations to our clients based on their specific business needs. We never try to get a client into a product because we have some hidden incentive or benefit to doing that. We consider ourselves a best of breed IT provider and it’s our job to know the landscape, the tools that are available, reputable, and widely used and we make recommendations on that basis to our clients based on their business needs, their priorities and their budget.

We do often have guest speakers on our website who have resources and services available, and today is no exception. But I’m going to say, as with any guest speaker, it is between you and Tim if you want to take him up on anything that he talks about today. 

I took the free quiz that we’re about to take and it was very helpful. But I’m in a different place from you. So, your results may vary. 

Learning Objectives

I want to quickly touch on our learning objectives. At the end of the session today, we hope that you can:

And I’m very, very happy to talk to our expert today, Tim Lockie from The Human Stack. So, Tim, would you like to introduce yourself?

Tim Lockie: My name is Tim Lockie. I live in Bozeman, Montana, and I’m really excited to talk with you today. I’ve been working in nonprofits since I was 18 and care a lot about making the world better and I think we could leverage technology to create so much more impact with the same humans and the same resources. The URL for that quiz is

The Digital Health Quiz

Tim Lockie: What you’re going to see there is six questions and then room for comments at the end. We’re going to go through each one of the digital health vitals that the question is centered around. It doesn’t tell you everything, obviously. It’s just a quick quiz. But it’s not like one of those magazines where the quiz is just not helpful at all.

There’s a lot here, and I’m going to show you how I use this quiz to diagnose extremely large organizations and really tiny organizations with the same questions, thinking about it the same way. It should take just a couple of minutes.

Carolyn Woodard: Tim, do you want to talk about The Human Stack while we’re waiting for people to do the quiz?

Tim Lockie: Yeah. How I got here is that I became the accidental techie at a global nonprofit. And the more I did the tech, the more I liked it. And I finally realized my bit in life is to help nonprofits with their data and with their technology. 

So, in 2010, I started a company called Now It Matters. And that was a consulting firm that helped people use Salesforce, specifically. I became a global expert at Salesforce: Salesforce MVP. I traveled the world talking about Salesforce, started a user group here in Bozeman, had six different certifications, and the whole thing.

I was chugging along that trail really hardcore. And then in 2019, I went to an event. Somebody put up a slide that said 90% of organizations collect data, but only 5% use that data to make decisions. And it gutted me because that was my job, right? Salesforce, tech, that’s how you collect the data. But using that data, converting that data, that should be what I’m doing with my clients. And when I looked at our contracts and the way that we were set up, if a client did not use what we had built for them, I got paid the same amount.

And when I looked at that across the industry, I just thought, we’re selling transformation in our marketing and we’re delivering deliverables, and it’s up to clients to use it or not, and they’re not. 

And so, I set out to create a different way of engaging with clients around how to actually use the data that they’re collecting. What I found was maybe sometimes they shouldn’t even get off of Blackbaud, or whatever tool they were on. Maybe they should stay there and learn to drive the car they already have instead of getting a new one.

And that was a real revelation for me and shifted my business model so much that I started The Human Stack. The reason for the name is, if the tech stack solves human problems with technology, then The Human Stack solves technology problems with humans.

For the technologists like us in the world, tech is the solution. But for everybody else, 97% of the world, tech is the problem. And so, we need to actually start addressing how we use tech that’s a problem for a lot of organizations. So, I called it The Human Stack.

Carolyn Woodard: I love that. I love the way that you talk about it, too. I think I heard you speak about a year ago. You talk a lot about the people. Like, if you’re stressed about your tech or you’re afraid of tech changes or you’re super busy and you don’t feel like you have time to do it, all of those emotions play into how you’re managing and using your tech. I really love that you’re bringing the whole person back into the question. It’s not just the tech, all of the people using it at your organization are really important, too.

Tim Lockie: It’s so true. And something that the technology industry has been completely ignoring, is what shame does to an organization. Not just to single individuals, but across the organization. 

What happens when there’s widespread tech shame or trauma? It’s very easy to create tech trauma and we’ll talk a little bit about that. 

These are very relevant because we say words like adoption and change management and governance. And for the most part in the industry, none of that actually works. We don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t measure it, we try not to because the numbers would be really bad. We wouldn’t have case studies. It’s just abysmal. It fails over 70% of the time.

Carolyn Woodard: Tech trauma.

I think if you talk to any person in any nonprofit across the United States, you don’t even have to ask very many questions before tech trauma will come out. Something they’re doing right now that’s not working very well, that takes them all day to do and they wish it were just a couple of clicks. There’s an implementation they had in the past where they were like, oh, that was horrible. It was so stressful and traumatic. So yeah, it’s definitely resonating.

Well, I think we’ve probably given people just about enough time to do the quiz.

Did you want to talk about the vitals that they have looked at in that quiz, and then we’ll get to our polls?

Tim Lockie: You answered six questions in that quiz and three of them are related to the tech stack.

Those are digital health vitals for the tech stack. 

On the human stack side, there is 

If I have these six questions for an organization, I’ll show you what I can do with them. But it all starts here.

And part of what’s important here is, Carolyn, you must have seen this over and over. The question people want to know is that top one. What solution should I use? And what all of us know is, it doesn’t matter which car you’re going to buy if you don’t know how to drive it, right?

And so, I wanted a way to measure five other things that organizations could start thinking about today, because it takes a long time to change your solution fit, like an ERP or a CRM. That takes a really long time. And in the meantime, there’s a lot that can be done. So, that’s where this originated.

Carolyn Woodard: The URL for that quiz is For anyone listening to this, that’s where you can go to find this free quiz that you can take with these six different areas. 


We are going to launch this poll. Now that you’ve taken the quiz, 

Poll 1: Where is your organization the strongest?

There’s these six indicators:

  1. solution fit, 
  2. data quality, 
  3. utilization, 
  4. system sustainability, 
  5. digital strategy, and 
  6. accountability. 

I made this multiple choice. So, if you scored well in a couple of those, you can go ahead and check everything that applies to you. If you didn’t take the quiz, or you tried to look at the quiz and it just didn’t really resonate with you, you can also choose not applicable. 

Tim Lockie: I forgot to mention about the answers to the quiz. You’ll get an email, and if you click on the email, that’s where the answers are. 

Carolyn Woodard: While we have the poll open, you can go back and see in your inbox, there’s a link and it will show you. At the top, it has a gauge of you’re running on empty or you’re full, and doing pretty well across the different indicators. 

That’s one of the things about taking a quiz, it’s subjective. You’re making a guesstimate, maybe of where this is happening. But it helps you start thinking of these different facets and where you are doing the strongest. 

A little bit over half said that they were strongest in utilization. About half said solution fit. About 30% said digital strategy. And then a tie for data quality and accountability. And a couple people put in that it was not applicable. 

The second poll, probably no surprise,

Poll 2: Where was the most challenging?

We’re all in this together, so don’t be shy. Everybody has challenges, and it’s just interesting to see if there’s any patterns of people in general feeling challenged in the same way at their organizations.

No nonprofit is the same. Every nonprofit is a special flower. You’re going to have specific challenges and strengths at your organization. But this will give us a little bit more to talk about, about how you’re doing. 

Tim Lockie: Digital strategy wins, or loses, depending on how we’re thinking about that. 

And something you said is so important, Carolyn, which is this is not moral failure, people. There is no reason to feel bad, guilty. There are a lot of reasons that you will feel shame and that’s unfortunate and we’ll talk through that. But in a perfect world, you wouldn’t, because this is just where we’re at. This is just taking a diagnostic, just running some tests. So, please don’t feel a certain amount of weight about that. 

Accountability was 47%. The next highest was a tie between data quality and system sustainability (29%). The third one is another tie between solution fit and digital strategy. And utilization was last, which makes sense, since it was first on the other one.

Carolyn Woodard: That does make sense. What’s interesting here is there’s no one that was the highest for most people. There’s a pretty good spread of the things that people are having difficulty with which speaks to what we’re talking about earlier. There’s something difficult about it in all these different aspects.

Tim Lockie: Marcos, you made a really great comment about why your utilization is higher for your organization, which has to do with compliance. And in a weird way, that compliance then is an accountability source. 

So, one way of thinking about it for your organization is that you have external accountability that is creating that for you. 

People Are Not Projects

This is my son in the background there with the long hair. His name is John David. A couple years ago, he came to me and said, “Can I build a canoe?”

And I said no. But the way I said no was, I said “only if I approve it,” which was my way of saying no, because I was never going to approve it. 

Because if you have a canoe in your wood shop, that’s what you’ve got for the next few years. Couple weeks later, I’m on the phone distracted, he comes in with his little cardboard thing, and I say, oh, that’s cool. And he said, so can I? And I was like, okay. And I just signed off on the canoe without realizing it.

So, the next thing I know, he is out with his grandparents getting lumber and building this canoe. He is in the backyard, that’s not a coffin, that is the canoe. There he is with the jigsaw. There it is, right there. 

He was 13 and I did not think that he would finish it, but he did. And here he is on Hyalite Reservoir and he goes all the way across there and all the way back. He went out like four times in that canoe. It was a very tippy canoe, but he built it and he was not even 15 when he finished it. I was very impressed. I was super excited because that made me really proud of him. 

The takeaway here is that I love doing projects with my son. I really do. You probably think I’m a good dad, and I am, hopefully. But I want to just show you how one rephrasing will change your mind about that. 

If I say, “I’m a good dad, I love working on projects with my son,” you’re all like, oh, good dad; that’s cool.

If I say, “I work on my son, who is a project,” red flags everywhere. Kid is in counseling, you see what I’m saying? 

We’re so wired to understand one core truth. And in consulting for over 10 years now, I’ve never seen a consultant make this mistake of calling people “projects.” It is almost the only mistake I haven’t seen, but we are very clear that people are not projects. If you’re in fundraising, you know that donations matter. But donors aren’t donations. And if you treat them like they’re donations, they stop giving.

And we also know on some level that technology matters, but that humans aren’t tech. Unfortunately, in this area, we are particularly bad about forgetting the humans. It makes sense that we’ve done that, but it is so important for us to start dividing issues that are technology from issues that are human

Case Study: One Valley Tech Alignment – Boots on the Ground and Leadership

One Valley ran into this. They’re a community foundation that’s local to me. Bridget is the CEO. She’s a really good friend of mine. She’s the CEO and the leader, and Jennifer works with her. She’s the COO. 

They were on a CRM, and had a lot of questions about the CRM. And they just came and said, hey, is it time to move off? This is not going well. So, I had Jennifer do the quiz you just took. She got the results back. And I looked at them. And I said, here’s what I see right now. When I’m talking with you, I feel like you’re a little bit off balance.

What you’re hoping for is that somebody will come in and be the expert for you and solve some of this. And you’ve got a lot of imposter syndrome. And when I checked in with Bridget, what I found is Bridget knows a lot about tech, but did not know how to lead Jennifer when it came to the technology. You can see very clearly that their human stack was not aligned well. 

And so, we came up with a plan. First we said we’re going to measure your digital health. We’re going to identify who is driving. We’re going to identify who is leading. We’re going to create a monthly plan. And ultimately, they ended up getting into our program called Digital Drivers Ed. 

Today it is totally different. Bridget is leading really, really well. Jennifer is killing it. They thought that they were going to need middleware. Instead, she is just solving their issues, working with another consultant. That consultant has done more in the last few months, Bridget said, than in the prior two years combined.

And there’s a lot of confidence. Jennifer is the boots on the ground person and Bridget is the leader. So, the triangle is the leader. The boots on the ground, that’s the driver. Maybe you’re in the same place. Where do we start? And what I want to say is, you start here. 

Digital Health Quiz: Results

There are other workshops that we can go through to solve those other questions that you want to look at more immediately. But it does all start with your digital health. And you’ve already taken this (quiz). 

So, if you didn’t before, you can grab the code if you feel like you want to. I just want to say the overall score honestly is not that helpful. It just tells you out of 10 where you are. But really what’s more important is to know in which areas you are higher or lower. 

So, for example, both of these organizations got a 5.2 out of 10. They have very different measurements on their vitals, completely different scores. 

So, I’m just going to take one organization that we worked with. And when they took this, their whole team took it. I compared it to a puzzle and I just said, you have all of the pieces, you flipped them upside right and you counted the pieces. You grouped them by color, all the other stuff that us puzzle nerds do. But the box is gone and now your team is arguing about what the picture looks like, right? 

The reason I was saying that is the lowest score for all of the metrics that we took was from their executive team on digital strategy. And that’s the team that’s supposed to be making the digital strategy.

So, when I saw that, that’s really telling. Also, when I looked at the range of scores, you could see a lot of variants. People are not agreeing even on what the problem is. So, just by comparing how wide the variance was on that, system sustainability is almost the only one that they really agreed on. 

Carolyn Woodard: This is just so interesting Tim, because I was going to ask if you have multiple people take this quiz and then triangulate their answers of their guesstimate of how it’s doing. 

Tim Lockie: I’m working right now with a large organization; over a hundred staff have filled this out and I’m running analysis. I’ll be on site to talk with their executive team about what I’m finding. I do offer a diagnostic for larger organizations. The only extra thing I do is allow them to add comments behind every question. This is not discovery, it’s a diagnostic.

A discovery is like exploratory surgery. This is more like running some tests. If you go to a doctor, you want the doctor to say, let’s run some tests and then do exploratory surgery. You don’t ever want it to be the other way around. 

If you’re ever out on the street and you need to diagnose somebody’s tech really quickly, you can boil it down to two questions. You can just ask, is your tech getting a little bit better or worse every day, and do you trust the data? The answers to those two questions will give you a lot of information about where they’re going, and how they feel.

Carolyn Woodard: Those are two great questions. Of course, there’s six dimensions in this. But yes, when you talk to people, even a little while, you can get that sense of, is tech getting better or is tech going downhill?

Perceptions Vs. Data (Both Are Important)

Tim Lockie: If there are any other data nerds like me on here, I am not measuring actual data quality. I’m not measuring solution fit. I don’t even really care about that. What I’m measuring is people’s perception of it. And people will behave based on their perception, which is really key to know because we humans change on a trend, and we measure on the trend. So, if you start to treat the trend and reverse the trend of people’s thinking, you’ll actually adjust their behavior way before the data actually tells them that it should be adjusted.

You can relatively quickly have them start behaving as if the data is higher quality just by starting to work on it together and creating a sense of, we’re improving this data together.

Carolyn Woodard: That was another thing I really loved about this quiz is that you don’t have to go out and find the answers and come report back on this data or that process or this tool or anything like that. It really is your perceptions.

Tim Lockie: Yes, exactly. What I expected when I first started doing this work is that there would be five different archetypes that we would find, that you should do this work on. Instead, the same pattern kept emerging and kept emerging. Finally, it was like, this is the pattern. It basically tells you how much time you’re going to spend on each one of these steps. 

Steps to Digital Health at Nonprofits

And here is the big trick. Solution fit is adjusted when you start working on anything after digital strategy. So, as soon as you start to improve the data quality, you’re actually adjusting solution fit. 

And especially when you start working on system sustainability, it’s basically continuous improvement. And so, you’re starting to adjust the solution fit along the way. 

I always compare utilization to solution fit, data quality, and accountability to see if it’s high. Then is that because there’s high accountability or is it because the solution fit and data quality are high? 

Carolyn Woodard: I wanted to just ask you to go through your sub questions, because there may be some people listening who are like, utilization? That sounds really technical. But that just asks, are staff using your systems the way they were intended or do they have to do a lot of work-arounds? 

Tim Lockie: I’ll actually go through each one of these. I start with 

  1. digital strategy, then 
  2. data quality, 
  3. system sustainability, 
  4. accountability and utilization and solution fit are indirect things that you work on, unless you do a big lift and start adding another system for solution fit. 

Okay, first up, Human Stack vitals. So, there are three: systems sustainability, digital strategy, and accountability. And I’m going to talk about them by looking at my logo.

And the first thing to say is, we’re not talking about individual use of technology. We’re talking about an organization’s use of technology. And just like the tech stack is a community of technologies, the human stack is a community of humans that use tech together. And when you’re working on the human stack, there’s always a leader that is accountable, strategic, and a driver who is boots on the ground, responsible and tactical.

So, one way of thinking about this is that it only takes one human to imagine a better world. That’s easy. But to actually make a better world, you need more than one person. You need a stack. So, two people is the smallest you can have a human stack with. 

Digital Strategy

And the first one of those is digital strategy. Digital strategy, you should think of as alignment. The leader (should be) very aligned with the driver.

This is a starter digital strategy. If you don’t have a road map, you’re not sure what your strategy is, make this your strategy. Figure out your digital health, find out who is driving. Figure out who is leading and then make a monthly plan. If it’s helpful to join Digital Drivers Ed, which is our online course, great, glad to have you. But you don’t need to. You can get going with this right here. So, that can be a starter digital strategy.

If your strategy is not in alignment, it won’t work. I work with so many organizations that want tech, they’ve budgeted for it, they’ve done all this work, all these RFPs, all of this other stuff, and did not take care of this piece right here, which is to make sure that their tactical team and their leadership team are in alignment and ready to go.

And it’s not the whole team, it is a person and a person. There is a strategic person and a tactical person. All of technology success boils down to the relationship between these two people. 


Accountability is a facet of that relationship. It’s attention plus power. That’s what I call accountability. And when I look at my logo and I think about accountability, it’s the gap between the leader and the driver. It needs to be close enough to collaborate, but not overlapping so there’s micromanaging.

Accountability has three different forms.

And especially, I don’t know if anybody has paid attention to the report around retention in nonprofits that came out late recently, but one of the main causes of churn or of people leaving organizations is the relationship between their supervisor and themselves. And that’s not different in technology. So, when it comes to accountability, if you’re not aligned, that’s one issue, here is digital strategy. But also, this doesn’t work if they’re not close enough to each other, or if you’re working with someone who just ignores you, that’s the worst. 

Another version of this can be if there’s static in between. So, if there’s constant conflict between the leader and the driver, you’re going to run into issues with your technology. 

And the last one is that there’s a wide gap. You can never get any questions answered. You’ve met like two times in the year to talk about technology. Anytime your leader needs something, they’re coming to you about it, but they won’t answer your question. That’s what it feels like. And then you end up feeling really small and distant.

System Sustainability

System sustainability. This is, are you creating relevant, ongoing system improvements? And the way I think about this is, are people complaining? Complaining is a sign of hope.

And what you want to do in a system is get people to feel comfortable enough to complain, because if they will, then you can keep shaping the data in the systems so that they are improving and working. 

Keep things proportional. When people say, hey, this isn’t working for me, you can grow. You can grow the system out in that area so that it will work. 

This is where the human stack missed leg day. And then you can have the opposite too, where you’ve got like a full stack developer under somebody that doesn’t really know what to do with them, and that can create a lot of problems. 

One time, when my daughter was very young, she went on a trip with her grandmother and everything went wrong. Wrong destination, flights canceled, just everything went wrong. And my daughter held it together all day because her grandmother said, “When you get to where you’re going, I’m going to get you chocolate ice cream.” And when they got to where they were going, got to the front of the counter and ordered chocolate ice cream, the man said, “We’re out.” And my daughter just dropped to the floor, heap of tears, big mess. Because humans can only handle so much change, right?

So, when it comes to sustainability, one of the biggest issues in technology is this idea that you have to pay attention to how much disruption you’re creating by making these adjustments, and how much capacity for change people have.

And that’s not how much tech capacity for change, that is organizationally how much does this person have. And just like my daughter had a negative reaction to being disappointed in hitting a level of change that she just couldn’t deal with, that one last thing, when humans hit high levels of change saturation over and over, they respond negatively and they associate that negativity to whatever caused it.

So, if we’re implementing a CRM, which I did lots of times and created disruption and change saturation for months on end for people, at the end of that, they were not happy with that CRM, even if it made their jobs easier. They turn to the one thing that would give them mastery and autonomy, which is spreadsheets. So, if we’re implementing systems and we’re not paying attention to change saturation, we’re going to run into issues.

Carolyn Woodard: I feel like that’s also like a cultural issue as well, that capacity for change. I just heard this recently; you’ve got to really read the room. If you’re an organization that has a top-down culture, then telling people this is how we’re doing it now, may be fine for you change-wise. That’s what people are used to. 

If you’re more entrepreneurial, people need to ask why are we doing it this way? Who is going to do it, how are we going to do it then? If you’re just telling them, we’re going to do it this way, it’s going to be a misfit. So, you need to be aware of that. Like with your daughter, read the room. 

Tim Lockie: And one of the reasons I say complaining is a sign of hope is because you and I have both seen organizations swap out massive systems unnecessarily. And if they would have just solved some of the lower-case issues, then actually they would be using the system just fine. But instead, they’ve delayed. They’re going to spend 18 months getting the same spot with the new system and spend six figures getting there. They haven’t practiced the art of saying what’s not working and fixing those things incrementally. 

And so, that’s why I put change saturation under system sustainability. How do you create regular small amounts of change that are effective for specific users? 

So, all of these are different ways that the human stack can be shaped in the wrong way. There’s only one way that it looks right. That’s 10 out of 10 on all three of those factors.

It’s more understandable what’s happening on the tech stack side of things than the human stack side. 

The one take away that I want to leave people with is how stacks are formed

When I was a consultant, I felt like anybody that didn’t have a CRM didn’t have a legit tech stack. That was a really stuck-up way of thinking, because actually a lot of small nonprofits don’t.

The first one, the starter website and the financial operations, all of those are legitimate tech stacks. And there are about 34 boxes on here. So, when your team says we’ve got too many systems, just keep in mind, there’s 34 types of systems. If you double up any of them, you have more than 34.

That’s all just to say, in modern workforces, you’re going to have a lot of systems. Every time you have a meeting to reduce the number of systems, you’ll have a new system at the end of that meeting. I guarantee it, it’s just the way it works, every single time. The issue isn’t if you have too many systems, it’s whether you’re using them effectively and whether you know who is supposed to be using them.

Data Quality

Data quality, here is what I want to say on data quality. This is a six-word theory of change about data. Data is plural for a thing called datum by the way, which I didn’t even know, but I keep finding out. Data turns into information and information turns into insight.

If you do not have data that you trust, you should not be using that to make decisions. The big reason that organizations don’t use their data to make decisions is that they know better. They’ve seen how it’s made.

And so, organizations really need to start treating data as an asset base, especially in a world of AI because the AI differentiator is basically the quality of your own data and what you know. 

It’s not to say staff aren’t insightful, that’s not the point here.

What happens is that directors become the bottleneck. They need to find out from executives what insights do we need, and they need to pair that with the available trusted data. When they don’t find that data, they need to make changes or they need to clean up the data. 

So, that’s a six-word theory of change. If you really dig into that, it will change so much about how you’re working with systems. 


The last one is utilization. Are you using the systems as intended? And that’s actually all I’m going to say about that.

Digital Health Strategy – How To

All right. So, picking up the story with Jennifer, what happened with Jennifer and her team was that they actually did their own work on understanding their organization, counting up their systems. They were using 48 systems. And by the time they were done, they were using 49 systems. And it wasn’t too many. It was what it took. They did do Digital Drivers Ed.

The four skills that we taught Jennifer are:

If Digital Drivers Ed sounds interesting to you, I’m glad to talk with you about it. The main point is that it’s possible for someone like Jennifer working about two days a month on data and information systems to actually feel confident, and for Bridget to spend one hour a month meeting with Jennifer to hear what’s going on with the system. That’s really the kind of oversight that we’re talking about. So, that’s what we did with Digital Drivers Ed. My dad joke on Digital Drivers Ed is learn to drive your tech before your tech drives you crazy.

Q and A

Can we collaborate with Community IT to support our needs with no in-house tech person?

Carolyn Woodard:  For outsourced IT, as a managed service provider, that is really, really, really difficult. It’s very difficult for us to work with an organization that is not aligned, as you were talking about, Tim, with the different pieces going in different ways. Our heart just goes out to them.

It’s like an intern calling us and they’ll say, “We’re using donated laptops; I really think that the executive director needs to do this and that.” It’s so difficult until you have that executive buy-in and you start doing the alignment and building up that maturity and ability. You need the ability within your organization before you can get external IT support to function. 

We talked about how you landed on helping smaller nonprofits develop the skills within, to be able to manage their IT. Can you talk a little bit more about it?

Tim Lockie: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve structured that in, and this was really intentional because we did so much support work over the years as a consultant. Inside Skill Zone Three, which is managing requests, the first thing to say is, “Never fix something that wasn’t requested.”

Technologists have a really bad habit of fixing things nobody wanted fixed in the 1st place. So, always wait for there to be a request. And it can be the intern that’s making the request. That’s fine.

There are six buckets, six queues that we teach our drivers to put them in. And the intern, by the way, is a great use case for Digital Drivers Ed. That’s why we built it, so that that intern can say, okay, here’s the training nobody in that organization can give them. 

One of the queues is called the Consultant queue. What happens is that they go to a Conversation queue first and then to The Human Stack community and say, hey, does anybody know how to solve this?

And if neither of those are working and it’s important, it needs to be solved, it goes into the Consultant queue. That’s where it would be ready for a service provider like Community IT Innovators to come along and say, okay, right, this is really clear. You’ve thought it through, you’ve got it prioritized, you’ve got all of the questions answered already. So, now we know what to do with it. 

And a lot of that is you’ll spend half your time with the consultant figuring out what you don’t know in order to find out what you need. All of that could be done without charging hundreds per hour.

Carolyn Woodard: (It’s done) ahead of time to really figure out what the business need is. I love that. 

Would you say The Human Stack is a way to set up a data tech governance method and engagement?

Tim Lockie: I love the word engagement there. We don’t have an adoption problem, actually. We don’t have a change management problem. And I don’t think we mostly have governance problems, although sometimes we do. Adoption is actually accountability. Change management is actually habits. And when it comes to governance, those are meaningful conversations that are relevant.

One of the queues is called the Conversation queue. That is specifically for governance questions, and it rolls up to a monthly meeting. For larger organizations, we have this built inside of a full-scale white glove methodology. And in that methodology both engagement and governance are part of what that methodology was built to handle. It’s a great question.

Carolyn Woodard: That makes sense, because like you were saying, you might be queuing up that Consultant ask, and it’s for a database consultant, or there’s a specific piece of the tech stack that you need outside expertise on. That makes sense. 

Learning Objective Recap

I want to thank you, Tim, so much for joining us today.