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Information Technology

Checklist - here are some things to consider:

  • a computer
  • specialist accounting and database software
  • a network (for more than one computer)
  • a website and email address

Information technology (IT) refers to the use of technology – computers, hardware, software, and the internet – to manage information.

Technology’s role in managing and delivering community services is extremely important for clubs and their members these days.

Using IT doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, but good IT systems can make some tasks faster and more efficient – which is ultimately better for your club.

Major Topics on this page

Technology planning

Technology planning can really help with the running of the club. Good technology management can make it easier for volunteers who have donated valuable time, to run the club, and for members to participate in its activities.

What does that mean to the club? It means having systems in place that give access to information, as well as computer programmes or software (computer programs such as word processors, email applications or internet browsers) that help the club meet its objectives.

Of course, the level of IT will vary according to the clubs size and the activities. But it is important that all the technology options are considered before you decide on what you need.

For example, if you have a very small base of members and you usually keep in touch by phone, you probably won’t need to purchase computers and install a network in the office. But you might benefit from a spreadsheet containing up-to-date membership information that can be distributed via email.

Choosing software

It’s hard to get by without computers these days. Most of us use a programme like Microsoft Word to write letters or produce basic documents. Most people in an office or home environment use standard software applications – word processors, email programmes or internet browsers – such as Microsoft Office.

All Microsoft software is compatible for file-sharing which makes sending documents via email easy.

Some clubs may require different programme or need software for their members to use on their home computers.

There are many different software options available. If you are looking for specific software it pays to do some research first. The latest may not be necessary and, worse, may end up being complicated and expensive.

Take the time to assess your needs and pick software that suits the club. You don’t want to waste money by ending up with something that doesn't work for you or the club.

There are seven important features to consider when choosing software for the club:

  • compatibility. Will it work on all the computers it might be needed on? Is it PC and Mac compatible?
  • stability. Is it likely to crash?
  • scalability. Will it keep working for you in the future as your club grows?
  • support. How easy is it to get help if you are experiencing problems?
  • ease of use. How experienced are you and your fellow club members with computers. Do you need to choose a programme that is simple and intuitive?
  • software individuality. Is it compatible with other programmes?
  • cost. Can you get a reduced rate because the club is a non -profit organisation? Is there free software out there that do the job just as well?

Accounting software

If you run a small club you may not need accounting software. A simple cash book system (insert link to finance and insurance section) may be sufficient. There is a range of accounting software available today. Much of it is complex and it’s important to consider a number of questions when deciding which accounting programme to choose for the club.

We have provided a useful quiz for your club to use when choosing your accounting software in the resources section.

Databases

Databases programs store information that can be accessed and sorted in a number of different ways. There are many examples: mailing lists to be sorted by postcode; lists of members who are under 18; people who have donated more than $100 dollars in the last two years who live in a specific suburb and whose children go to public schools etc.

Word processing programmes can store information like this, but database programs can search, sort, screen, and sum up data more efficiently. Clubs often need to store data that is easy to sort and print out. One of the most common types of databases is a contact database, which lists the names and addresses of people who regularly receive mail from the club.

While most organisations start this list in a word document or spreadsheet, it can quickly grow into a large file that becomes difficult to deal with. Large clubs generally need database software. They often have large amounts of data that they need to keep track of.

Some questions to ask are:

  • What kind of database do you need?
  • Do you need more than one, and if so, should they be linked?
  • Should you start your own database, or buy database software?

We have provided a quick quiz on what sort of database your club needs in the resources section. what sort of database your club needs (DOC, 25 Kb)

Don’t forget the Privacy Act when collecting membership data.

Networking

A network is two or more computers linked through a cable or a wireless device. This link allows the computers to share files, printers and even Internet connections. Computers are often networked to store files and records in one place, and so that this information can be accessed from more than one computer. If the club has an office and staff, you might consider networking computers.

Another benefit of a network is it can reduce other investment costs. For example, modems, printers, scanners, and CD-ROMs are examples of devices that can be shared by a network.

Comprehensive information about networks (DOC, 25 Kb)

Internet

Many people find the Internet hard to understand. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to understand how the Internet works to be able to use it, and it’s designed to be as user-friendly as possible. The best way to learn about the Internet is by– using it.

The Internet is n international network of computers connected by cable, telephone wires, or satellite. ‘Going online’ refers to the act of connecting a computer to the Internet.

The Internet is used to send and receive emails and access websites using web browsers. It allows you to communication via email or online chat groups with people around the country and the world who are involved in the same sport or recreational activity as you.

You can also use the Internet to research suitable businesses and agencies to provide the club with sponsorship and funding. You can find information about improving the club’s output.

The most common ways of connecting your computer to the Internet in New Zealand is via phone lines, or using a wireless service similar to the mobile phone networks. To do that, you need an Internet Service Provider (ISP). An ISP provides Internet connections to private and business customers e.g. Slingshot and ihug. An ISP is a company with a large computer that hosts websites and provides access to the Internet. If the club has a website, or an email account that’s not free like hotmail or yahoo, then it already have an ISP.

If you would like the club to have its own website, or its own email accounts, then you should contact an ISP for some quotes. Most telephone companies have Internet services, and they are a good place to start.

Ask committee members how much they know about using computers and setting up websites before going down the expensive path of paying a commercial organisation to do it. You may find there is someone in the club with this expertise.

An important consideration when dealing with the Internet is computer security. Computer viruses, hackers, Trojans, and worms are all dangerous devices that can be sent via email or attached when visiting websites. They can destroy computer files and gain access to private and confidential information.

Anti-virus software is a must for any computer, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Free options are available for downloading from the Internet. Ask around your friends and committee members for advice on the best ones.

And always remember to regularly update anti-virus software to ensure protection from the latest viruses and worms.

Resources and more Information

CommunityNet, an Internet resource for New Zealand communities provides in-depth information on many aspects of IT, the internet, email, and security. Other resources with good advice about IT include:

Technology Planning

Accounting Software Quiz (DOC, 25 Kb)

Software Specifications (DOC, 25 Kb)

Database Basics (DOC, 24 Kb)

Database Assessment Quiz (DOC, 25 Kb)

Networking Basics (DOC, 25 Kb)

 

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