Setting expectations for a technology change
You just wrapped up your big end-of-year campaign and after many curse words and much hair pulling, you have decided you are done with your current software. It sucks, it’s not working like you need it to, your staff complains about the platform on a regular basis.
You are officially ready to move on to a new technology system.
Making a software change can be a huge endeavor. While some platforms are easy to use right out of the box, there is still the getting started process, system integration setups, training your staff on the new systems, and the dreaded unforeseen complications.
So before you dive into a system switch, make sure you are accurately setting your expectations by asking yourself these two questions.
1. Why are you looking to make a change?
Every organization brings its own backgrounds and challenges as to why they are ready for a software switch. Generally it comes down to the fact that you are not able to accomplish your goals with the software you are currently using.
From our experience, the reasons you want a change generally fall into one or more of the following categories.
You have outgrown your current software. When your team got started with your current platform(s), your needs were much more narrow. But now you have way more donors or a new website or your services have changed (or maybe even all three) and it is just not working for you anymore. The good news is many digital systems are constantly expanding and updating, but if you found you maxed out all of their offerings that definitely could be a convincing reason you need to move on.
Staff changes. Maybe the person who set up the software has left your organization and it is a good time to reassess how you use your software. Or maybe you hired a new staff person with experience using another system that they absolutely love and think your organization would benefit from it. Regardless, staff transitions are a common, and, honestly, an excellent time to consider new technology.
It is overwhelming to use. This is a common issue with systems with a vast feature offering. Salesforce is a great example of this. There are many features and options and if your system was not set up well in the first place, it can make using it one big headache. Lack of training can also put a hindrance on using your technology to its full potential.
Your systems don’t work together. You have one platform for your email, another for your CRM, an online donation processing system and none of them actually work together. You have set up lots of work arounds and manual inputs, but if they could just automatically update between systems it would make your job so much easier. So you are considering a new more diverse technology option or possibly some better system integration options.
The bottom line is there are many reasons why you might not be happy with your current technology systems. A new platform is appealing, but there is one more question to consider before you actually make that jump.
2. Is a new system worth it?
Sure, implementing new technology sounds like it would magically solve all of your problems like a digital fairy godmother. And while it very well could, you have to think through the process to get there, because unfortunately it’s not as easy as waving a wand.
Obviously, price is probably your top factor when considering a switch. It is usually the first thing I look at when exploring new software and it is probably your first stop as well.
There is the cost of the actual software, but are there extra start up costs or will you need to hire someone to help you implement this new software? Is it a monthly cost or is it just a standard one-time flat rate? What about training? Will your staff need extra help getting started and is that included in the cost?
All of these things go into making sure this new technology fits into your budget. But you should also examine the extra income this new system has the potential to bring in that could offset costs. Also will this new platform reduce the time your staff has to manage the software? I am guessing their time, and thus hourly rate, would probably be more beneficial spent on something else besides
cursing at managing a software system.
You know that saying, “time is money?” Yeah, this definitely applies here.
How long will this take to get started? How much staff time will need to be dedicated to implementing this? What about training?
While some systems are easy to use from the start, systems like CRMs can take from a few days for a very small organization to over a year for larger nonprofits to get your new database in working order. Can you put some things on hold to make this work? Is this something your team can manage?
It only takes one person to derail your team’s journey with your new software. That is why it is especially important to make sure everyone is on board before you onboard.
Reviewing the software with anyone who might use the technology (think marketing, development, finance teams and others) before you hit the sign up button will go a long way. Considering your co-worker’s input will go even further. This is where a consultant can go a long way in vetting your technology options and making sure it will actually work for your team(s).
Also, having a point person to lead the technology project is important as well. That person should also keep in mind that they should stay on top of the latest updates and feature releases your new software has to offer after it is implemented. Is there someone on your team that is willing to take this on?
So you got the green light and your new system is set up, in fact, you even hired a consultant to customize it to fit your needs. It is perfect. But now no one on your team actually knows how to use it.
The effort and time it takes to train your employees on your new software, well, depends on your employees. Are they tech savvy? Good with details? Eager to learn this new system?
Training is a necessary part of implementing a new technology system. Make sure you have a willing staff and the time set aside for learning and troubleshooting.
All of the factors above can work together to make a perfectly inconvenient storm. Is this something you can power through?
The money, time, and effort new software requires can put projects on hold, affect your fundraising, and can make things like reporting especially challenging in the interim.
Before you jump ship on your technology, it is important to examine your current software a little closer. Maybe there are new features you are not aware of, maybe your business processes need to adjust, maybe you just need to do some system integrations with a tool like Zapier? Or maybe your staff just needs a little bit of training or say in what their needs are? This is where I hands down recommend starting.
And after all that you still answer, “Yes! Switching to a new system is 100% worth the inconvenience,” then I would probably say you are ready to make a technology change.
Need a little help selecting a new system that will be a good fit for your team, helping implement a new platform, or any training or troubleshooting? The Tackle team is standing by to jump in and give you a hand, just reach out to us today.
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