Altus Dynamics Blog

How to Map out your Nonprofit Software Selection Journey

Posted by Cait Abernethy on Jan 10, 2017 10:41:00 AM

Researching and selecting a new software solution for your organization is no small feat.

Statistics show that accounting software is only replaced every seven to ten years – it’s not something that a Finance Director does frequently. Likely, a lot has changed since the last time your organization considered new solutions – new regulations, additional sources of funding, dramatic changes in technology and software delivery, and an explosion of new choices.

To help you through the process, we’ve identified five phases of Nonprofit software selection process or journey to help Finance Directors as they prepare and research.

Phase I – Identify the problems that need to be solved

problem comic.pngPain usually precedes a decision to look for a new software solution. The accounting solution you currently have is inadequate to meet your demands and as a result, you and your team have increasingly turned to manual processes and spreadsheet to supplement system output for needed reporting.

Or, there may be other problems, such as the system freezing up if too many people are using it at one time. A lack of integration may require entering the same information multiple times into different systems.

You know that the pain is already acute and will only get worse if new sources of funding and new programs are added. And so the journey begins to find a solution that can provide relief, diminish the number of manual steps, and equip you with the solution you need to address the needs of your organization today and well into the future.

Phase II – Gather information

learning-1.gifWe can’t think of another time when so much information has been available by solution providers: white papers, checklists, rich schedules of webcasts and on-demand videos to aid you in the education and information gathering phase of your journey.

In fact, it can be a bit overwhelming. Which is why we’ve mapped out the Nonprofit Software Selection Journey to help organize these resources by the phase you are currently working on.

How you go about this phase is up to you. You may prefer to go through this phase on your own – sampling information and beginning to get a feel for what you wish to explore in greater detail. On the other hand, you may wish to move directly to Phase III and partner with a professional to help you pull together the information with your selections process.

Phase III – Work with a partner who understands

This is the most crucial phase of your Nonprofit Software Selection Journey. Who can help you sift through the information to begin to identify the best course of action for your organization?

This can be a rigorous selection process in itself. What you need is a technology partner who understands three things: How your organization works, how the software would work in the context of your organization’s needs, and the best technology platform for solution delivery.

safe.gifA partner with extraordinary knowledge of technology but no understanding of how a nonprofit works and the reporting requirements you need to provide – simply doesn’t have the experience to guide you in the most helpful way.

A partner who understands nonprofits, but has no practical experience with software technology and deployment, might not be aware of the technological advances that could be implemented to increase effectiveness and decrease total cost of ownership.

When you have a software partner who understands technology, nonprofits, and accounting software, the Nonprofit Software Selection Journey becomes much more manageable. When you have a software partner who understands technology, nonprofits, and accounting software, you are better positioned to pick the best solution to address your immediate problems as well as equip yourself for future needs.

Phase IV – Investigate who else is using the software

Probably the most helpful information in your Nonprofit Software Selection Journey will come from learning from the experience of other nonprofits that have made the same journey.

me too.gifWhat were the problems they were looking to solve? What were the challenges that the software helped them to address? Beyond addressing the immediate pains, did the solution provide additional benefits? What would they change if they had it to do all over again? What advice would they give others?

Your software solution partner can be of great assistance in lining up references for you to contact. Who better to inform you than another Finance Director who has completed the journey you are now taking? Prior to talking to references, you will want to review case studies that will provide an overview and help you to develop a set of questions to better probe their experience and assist you.

Phase V – Selection and Deployment

The heavy lifting is over and it is time to complete your evaluation and make your selection. What is the best choice? What technology will you utilize? What will it cost you this year, next year, and in the years to come?

Your solution provider will assist you in mapping out the implementation and deployment of your solution. Working together you will assign tasks – some to be executed by your solution provider, some to be completed by you and your team.

Your solution and technology partner will be there to assist you and your team with the preparation of the system, the training of your software users, and the go-live. Your solution partner will also be a resource beyond the launch of your new solution.

Not sure if Altus is the right technology partner for your organization? Visit our website to review our solution's capabilitites, and schedule a demo to get hands on with our software and see how it can transform your organization's processes.

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This Post Was Written By Cait Abernethy
Cait Abernethy is the Marketing Coordinator at Sparkrock and is excited about marketing trends, enthralled by technology of all kinds, and is interested in the ways local actions can have a global impact.
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