Thursday, May 22, 2014

10 MORE Things To Know When Choosing Nonprofit Software

We posted 10 Things to Know When Moving to a New Nonprofit Software Platform last year, outlining 10 technical and operational factors organizations should consider when they are planning on making the move.

Last week at the Nonprofit Technology Summit, I collected additional strategies we can share! Thanks to Amy Rosenblum of the Cultivation Center and her fantastic session on nonprofit software, here are 10 more tips for moving to new software platforms:


1. Start with an exit strategy
Think about how you would get data out of your new system in the future. Is it expensive? Is it sorted? You should know how easy it is to move in case a change is necessary.

 2. Define the timeline
Decide when you realistically would need your system to be fully functional. Plan your deadline for a less busy time of year.

3. Double that timeline—or triple it
Finding and implementing new software is very time-consuming. Be sure you have a timeline that will allow you to complete the process well before you need the system in place.

4. Create your dream list of features and capacities
What features do you absolutely need? Would the new software be compatible with other existing software? Consider requirements as well as the end user experience.

5. Define your budget to implement, maintain, and fund new software
Be careful, because no software is truly free and the initial cost may be misleading.

 6. Who is on board with the new system?
Consider who will be using the software, their willingness to change, and their readiness to learn. New platforms are only useful to the degree that they are implemented.

7. Ask questions and be ready to answer them
Collect information about your top software choices in a spreadsheet. Call non-sales people and tech support to get a vibe for the company and the service you will receive.

8. Prioritize the constraints and know tradeoffs
What do you have to have in regards to timeline, features and cost? What can you give a little on? Sometimes you can trade a longer timeline for a cheaper system or less features for quicker implementation.

9. Know the contract
When you do choose software, ask more than one person to review the contract, making sure that it supports your priorities.

 10. Communication is key
Get to know your contact so that you can ask questions when needed and get quick responses. The process continues even past purchase and implementation, so a good line of communication is essential.


If you have more tips for choosing new database software, feel free to email them to douglas@visionlink.org. You may also download our original 10 Things to Know When Moving to a More Capable Software Platform here.

Georgina Douglas
Marketing Operations Manager
VisionLink