May 27, 2011
Ten Common Mistakes Made When It Comes to Fundraising Technology
"Ten Common Mistakes" has been contributed by Niroo Rad, CEO and Managing Director, ASI Europe. The article highlights how to reduce any potential mismatch between your organisation and the fundraising software you select.
When implementing fundraising software and a donor management system, non-profits face two possible results — success or failure. So how can the latter be avoided? This list reveals ten of the most common mistakes made when it comes to solution selection and implementation, and explains how they can be avoided.
1. When searching for a new fundraising system, selection criteria are not clearly defined. Unfortunately, keeping a totally open mind and casting the net too wide does not increase your chances of success. Each department in an organisation should instead include two or three criteria that are most important to them, to help determine the best technology fit.
2. Users aren’t involved in the selection process. This is a big mistake!. Although there will be obstacles such as staff buy-in with purchases, the people within an organisation know its operations better than anyone else and fully understand their fundraising technology needs. A department champion should be assigned to refine the strategic vision; this will help them feel more involved and accept responsibility for their part in the project.
3. Solutions are selected primarily on looks not functionality. When evaluating software options, non-profits should look at the strengths of the vendors, their support capabilities, relevant experience and references, product functionality, implementation track record and technology price. They should also consider asking for customer references.
4. The best solution is not necessarily the latest technology trend. Organisations shouldn’t take the risk on ‘bleeding-edge’ software when it comes to business-critical systems. Potential vendors should be asked for customer references, to determine the proven, reliable technology and ensure it can support the organisation’s future needs.
5. When a new system is selected, high expectations are set and widely communicated. An ambitious, ‘go live’ date announced will certainly get everyone’s attention. Although it might be good for morale and earn respect from peers in the short term, it is only putting the project at even greater risk for failure.
6. The planned budget is exceeded during the fundraising technology selection process. Organisations need to be realistic about their budgets and build a strategic plan with adequate financials in place that reflect the type of solution really needed to support their operational objectives. They’re not going to get the taste of champagne for the price of a beer.
7. The project is littered with assumptions. Predictability in IT projects is far from overrated. Non-profits should invite vendors to conduct a “Discovery Session” to learn how the organisation does things and make sure that all project deliverables fit the business needs so that implementations do not fail.
8. Internal project personnel are frequently changed. Nothing succeeds like continuity - make sure the same staff are in place throughout the entire selection and implementation process.
9. Suppliers are not trusted. This is a fundamental mistake. Buyers must engage with the selected vendor, to continuously determine fit and feasibility of the product and the competence of the people behind it, It will provide an opportunity to refine business practices and build an effective and trusted working relationship, which is vital to the success of the project.
10. The project is kept away from senior management. If this happens they are bound to question “Why?”, “When?” and “How much?”. Get the board’s and senior management’s support by being transparent about the software selection process.
Category: Technology and Information Systems