Few nonprofits have the good fortune of starting operations with a fully-evolved and integrated software suite that addresses all concerns from the simple needs of early start-up days to the complex demands of a fully mature nonprofit organization.
Chances are your nonprofit is using a hodgepodge of incompatible systems that were cheaply acquired during your organization’s salad days. Now, poised for more growth, there are questions about the productivity and efficiency losses stemming your virtual Babel of software programs.
For nonprofits on the rise, investing in a fully integrated software solution created by one provider might be the best answer. If you have big problems getting all your software programs to play nice together, you might want to start over with a software suite guaranteed to do just that.
However, many organizations have been led down this garden path before by software vendors. For many of them, it ended in tears.
All the data that you have painstakingly gathered over the growth of your nonprofit: email lists, donor profiles, financial records, inspection reports, etc, will have to be migrated to the new system. This is not easy to accomplish.
Here are some ways to ease the transition:
- Appoint a reliable person from your nonprofit to take the lead in the data migration and integration. Pinpointing both authority and responsibility for the transition will ensure that fingers will not be pointing every which way if Murphy’s’ Law takes over.
- Decide if an IT consultant is worth your money. It would be best if the consultant you use has familiarity with but no business connection to your software provider/ systems integrator. The help of an IT consultant is a must if your nonprofit people have no experience with IT systems. The consultant can help keep your provider honest in addition to mapping out upgrade paths for your systems in the future.
- Make sure your data is clean before it is integrated. This is an expensive, time-consuming job but there is no excuse not to clean your data if you want to reap the full benefits of your new software system. Your donor lists, for example, update and verify contact information and encode them in a standard manner. Reach out to the inactives via email, phone call, or through social media. Donors are the lifeblood of nonprofits so you must know how get in touch with them.
- Back-up. Back-up. Back-up your data. This bears repeating three times. You cannot afford to lose your important data. So be sure to have multiple digital copies in several different locations. Make sure you also know how to install the back-up as well.
- Don’t rush the migration. Take your time to make fewer mistakes. Run systems simultaneously for some time to ensure there are no glitches that crop up after a certain period of time.