After all the planning, all the anticipation, the conference is finally underway. I gave a slightly modified version of my Global IT presentation that I’ve given a number of times, but for the first time, I gave it to the people that will help implement the vision. I think it went over well – saw lots of nodding heads, and even had a few questions. The goals are large, but the benefits are even larger – I think that came across well. The best moment of the day, perhaps was the presentation by the Uganda country director and his senior team. He gave a good overvie
w of our efforts in Uganda – some very tricky stuff. Then the Finance, Logistics, and Operations directors spoke briefly, and it was as if they had read my presentation. They asked for standardization (check), better overall support (check), improved communications (check), and even support for a custom-build logistics management system (check). The most gratifying part was when they were done, I was about to answer their concerns with an explanation of our plans, but a few of the field guys asked if they could respond. And respond, they did. One person explained that if they had been here a few hours earlier, they would have seen that the goals of this conference matched their concerns exactly. Another one explained our efforts towards standardization, and how that will help with support. It was a truly magical moment – I think we all felt it.
We also got into a brief discussion of “measurement and evaluation” – the very difficult challenge of tracking program effectiveness. The country director explained some of the challenges relating to different donors wanting to track different indicators, then I explained some of the efforts underway in the NGO community to develop a standard for M&E so we can make this difficult process more efficient, and also start to change the conversation with the donors. This gave me an opportunity to make the point that if we can remove some of the burden around managing commodity infrastructure, we can start to help the business with this critical task – that’s what IT is really about. I swear I saw some light bulbs go off in people’s heads. Again, very satisfying.
After this, I went back to my room and fell asleep in about 2 minutes – nearly missed dinner. Can’t wait for more of this tomorrow.