We all understand the purpose of technology in business: software programs have been designed to help make day-to-day tasks easier, so people can focus on doing their jobs instead of busywork.
But just because technology can make work easier, that doesn’t mean everyone is eager to make it part of their business. Reluctance comes in many forms: concerns about the financial investment, lack of tech expertise on the team, simply not realizing the specific software needed to tackle your organization’s needs even exists. All these can impact your ability to adopt new software solutions.
Yet, as valid as they are, these concerns don’t outweigh the benefits strategically implemented software can have for a nonprofit organization.
If you’re wondering if adopting new software solutions might help you focus on your mission (rather than administration), here are a few things to consider.
The benefits of software for your nonprofit
In a nonprofit organization, efficient use of time and resources is key. When you make smart investments into technologies that help streamline operations, you’re making it easier for your entire organization to focus on your mission and impact.
Some of the benefits of using software include:
- Time savings: Using the right software can make time-consuming tasks quicker and easier, which in turn lets your team focus on their work. This can include anything from processing transactions and tracking time-off, to searching reports and quickly checking for inconsistencies.
- Simplified workflows: What is it worth to you to be able to access historical information with a quick search, or to have all of your documentation ready to go come audit time? The right technology allows you to work smarter, not harder.
- Accurate data: Software leaves less room for human error. This can lead to an increase in reporting accuracy, which in turn helps create trust around your organization.
- Staying current: While you don’t need to keep up with the Joneses, you do want to make sure your organization doesn’t fall behind when large scale technological advancements take place in the industry. Staying in touch with technology now will allow you to be nimble and adaptable when you need to adopt something out of necessity in the future. It will also help you attract the best talent to the organization, as they are likely to be experienced using the most current and innovative approaches to work.
Software solutions for nearly every problem
If the only software example you can think of is Microsoft Excel, it’s time to broaden your technological horizons. These days, software solutions exist to address virtually every unique need a nonprofit organization may have. From tools that help you keep track of fundraising efforts and donations, to programs that streamline your accounting and human resources operations, there is a lot more out there than many people realize.
At Trestle, we have a couple favourites that we use with virtually every client. The first is Bill.com, a tool for accounts payable processing. The other is BambooHR, which can automate a wide breadth of operations from new employee on-boarding to time-off tracking. Both of these programs are covered under our main services package, which means we take care of the heavy lifting of getting the software set-up, and we pass along cost savings that we receive as wholesalers.
How can you tell if you need software?
If you ever find yourself thinking, “there’s got to be a better way to do this”, you’re probably right. Most software solutions were developed to streamline processes that slow organizations down. So, if you find you’re coming up against the same issues again and again, there’s a good chance someone has developed a software solution to address them.
If your organization doesn’t already use technology, here are a few things to think about:
- Time: Does your team gets stuck spending a lot of time on operational tasks that takes away from their ability to focus on their core work? Chances are there’s a software solution that can take care of that busywork for them, so they can focus on the work that matters: your mission.
- Paper usage: Does your organization still rely heavily on paper copies and documentation? This can lead to greater instances of inefficiencies in reporting and filing that could be streamlined by making a switch to digital, searchable records.
- Communication: What does communication flow look like in your organization? Is it efficient? If not, there are some powerful tools that can help streamline the way your team communicates, ensuring better documentation and less clutter in your inbox.
When we begin work with new clients, part of our initial assessment process is to help you identify any technology gaps at your organization. We’ll analyze what’s working and what isn’t in order to make software recommendations that make sense for your specific needs and challenges.
Choosing the right software
Despite the plethora of software solutions that are out there, not every tool is going to be the right fit for your organization. Take the time to really understand what your needs are before you commit to a new piece of technology. There’s no point in investing in something that doesn’t do what you need it to.
Some questions you can ask when evaluating a potential software solution are:
- Do you have the technological skills in-house to on-board the software yourself, or will you need help?
- Will the software integrate with any existing software you’re already using?
- How customizable is the technology?
- Is the software intuitive, or will your team require special training to use it?
Doing ample research upfront will ensure you find the right solution the first time. Read user reviews, reach out to the software company with your questions, and even request a demo. If you work with us, we’ll evaluate the tools and make recommendations for you.
Evaluating the cost of software
It’s important to remember that investing in software is an investment into your organization as a whole. Yes, there are costs associated with every program, and some tools are more expensive than others. Consider the time you’ll save in efficiency as part of your costing equation.
When you’re evaluating potential software solutions, be sure to get a complete picture of pricing. Rarely is technology a single payment experience. Some of the costs associated with acquiring new software include:
- Software license subscription (monthly or annually)
- Technology support
- Maintenance and upgrades
- Service add-ons
Make strategic software choices
Bringing new software into your process can have a huge positive impact on you organization. But failing to make a strong rollout plan can also hurt you if you’re not strategic about it. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Keep your team in the loop: Prepare your team for the changes the new software will bring, and provide proper training on how to work with it.
- Budget accordingly: Get a full picture of the costs associated with the technologies you’re considering, you’ll be able to factor the investment into your budget and avoid any surprises in the future.
- Consider your infrastructure: If you need to integrate your new software with other solutions and technology, make sure everything is compatible before you commit to a new tool.
- Make sure everything is up to code: Do your due diligence to ensure there are no accounting, compliance, or regulatory issues with the new software you’re planning to adopt.
Trestle is here to help
Making the transition to new software can radically streamline the way your nonprofit operates, making workflows easier to manage, transactions simpler to process, and records as accurate as possible.
Still, adopting new technology can be a daunting task. Let us help you find, onboard, and manage the right software solutions for your organization. Schedule a call today.