Executive Summary of the Project

AIDS Project Worcester (APW) is a not for profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS (Human immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). The project team has assessed the effectiveness of the Information Technology (IT) system in place at APW as well as the IT training needs of APW staff.
To complete the assessment, the project team inventoried all of the hardware and software owned by APW. In the process, the project team used interviews, focus groups, and surveys to reach out to the employees of AIDS Project Worcester and evaluate what training the employees need to operate more efficiently, as well as deduce their specific technology needs.
During the project team’s time at APW the results of the IT assessment showed there needs to be significant upgrades to the infrastructure. Most of the computers are six to seven years old with inadequate RAM and obsolete processors. These problems inhibit employees from completing necessary tasks. Some computers use 80% of the total RAM before opening any programs, this makes the computers respond slowly and often freeze. The project team also found that to make the best use of the technology at hand the employees need training on fundamental computer skills and programs.
The project team has determined that most of the twenty-four desktops at APW will need to be replaced. The computers will be replaced either all at once through a large grant, or slowly, three to four computers at a time depending on excess funds and grant money.
The project team helped to train the employees in basic computer skills and programs. At the beginning of the project, the team sent out a survey to determine the skill level of the employees at using various programs and overall computer skills. The project team also held focus groups to get a better understanding of the skill level of the employees and to see what they wanted to be trained on. Using the information gathered from the surveys and the focus groups the project team decided what the topics of the training sessions would be. Some of the topics that were taught to the staff included Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and how to properly save to the network servers.
The work that the project team has completed will help APW use its available technology in a more efficient manner as well as provide recommendations that will allow technology to better aid all employees in their work.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The first aspect of the Information Technology assessment was determining if AIDS Project Worcester met the technology threshold. The project team defined the technology threshold as computers less than three years old, Internet access, email, an internal network for file sharing, and printers. As a result of the inventory, the project team found that the computers being used by APW were older than three years, therefore falling short of the technology threshold. While APW does have Internet access, they rely on a DSL connection, which is too slow for their everyday needs. APW does have a sufficient internal network for sharing files, as well as printing, and every employee has an individual email address.
In order to meet the technology threshold, the project team recommends that APW apply for technology grants, such as The Verizon Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which can provide APW with grant money exceeding $5,000 that can be used new computers When receiving grant money, it is recommended that APW follow the replacement plan laid out by the project team (page 33). The project team also recommends that APW always be actively searching for new grant opportunities.
The second aspect of the IT assessment was the employee surveys and interviews. Based on the responses from the surveys and interviews, the project team determined that the employees would greatly benefit from training on the software used to complete their jobs. Some of the employees struggle using the technology available to them, often causing them to give up on using technology all together. With proper training, their workload could be significantly decreased, allowing each employee to service more clients.
Regardless of how much technology APW has or how well designed their IT system is, it is all basically useless if the employees do not know how to properly and effectively utilize it. Throughout the project, the project team has been offering training sessions open to any employees that wish to attend. The sessions have been focused directly on the tasks that the employees must complete on a regular basis. The feedback from these training sessions has been exceptional; the employees have reported significant increases in their program literacy and basic understanding of how to operate their computers.
The project team recommends that APW offer training sessions on a regular basis for those who feel like they could use extra assistance. According to the surveys and interviews conducted by the project team, there are a few employees who consider themselves to be very comfortable using a computer and the job related software. If they are willing, these employees could host training sessions for employees who need help.