Dear Andy: We have a corporate giving program but our process is totally manual (about 16 different spreadsheets, hundreds of emails), and things are falling through the cracks. I want to move to something automated but am nervous about the transition and losing critical data. What do you recommend to make the transition easier? - Trapped Under Paperwork
Dear Trapped: I feel your pain. The patchwork process is difficult and time-consuming to manage. Luckily, there is a better way.
Moving to an automated system will allow you to spend significantly less time focusing on the details, giving you more time to accomplish your program objectives and build your company’s brand. However, like with any habit you’ve become accustomed to, the idea of change can be daunting.The good news is you most certainly do not need to start from scratch. The implementation can mirror your existing processes and thus make the transition straightforward and painless.
To alleviate some of your fears, let’s look at the pros of making the switch to an automated system that works the way you work. The advantages of SaaS and the Cloud are that you don’t have to worry about having the latest software or losing your data. It’s all handled by the state-of-the-art cloud. That flood of requests you receive can easily be tracked and routed to the right person.
Choosing the right automated solution depends on proper research. Just like you do with any other purchase, big or small, you’re better off if you know your ‘stuff’ up front. In order to make the transition easier, research what the software provider’s current clients say about their implementation experience. Our advice is to avoid systems that include hidden fees for changes. These systems require refinement and changes at the outset, and so you need to take that into account when you consider pricing.
Ideally the solution vendor will do a deep dive to understand your processes and consult with you to design your system. Look for a company who is proactive in making recommendations based on the best practices from experience with other clients. Check out how the company handles ongoing customer service. Will you have a dedicated team who understands your business and requirements? Are there additional costs associated with this support? What happens if you need to make a change?
Make sure you know the answers to these questions before you sign on with a new vendor. Many software companies will set you up with their product, provide a minimal amount of training and then leave you on your own. When the program goes live and changes need to be made, the company charges significant fees to incorporate the changes or add additional features.
The truth is, companies and corporate giving programs constantly change, and your contract needs to include support to build out an online platform that evolves with these changes. Look for an expert client success team that can advise you on best practices and incorporate product improvement based on your feedback. This may seem more costly at the outset, but if this is included you’ll save time and money.
Hope that helps!
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Andy Cummings, Director of Client Solutions at Versaic, has worked with hundreds of clients on how to get the best out of their philanthropy management system. Do you have a request or project management work issue? Ask Andy! Email your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity included.