The Best Software Is Unique For You!
It’s Thanksgiving! It is that time of year when we are either heading off to the market (to pick up that forgotten item) or getting into a plane/train/automobile
to visit our relatives to give thanks, spend time enjoying good food, games, and perhaps catching a couple of football games. In this article, I discuss what makes thanksgiving special for me and how focusing on what distinguishes your organization from others is imperative when evaluating software technology.
What Makes My Thanksgiving Special
In our respective homes, the majority of Americans will enjoy Thanksgiving Day with Turkey. But, despite that one common staple, in many homes we all have something uniquely our own which accompanies the festivities.
It may be a special side item such as my favorites such as “Passion Fruit”, “Cornbread Dressing” (as opposed to Bread Dressing), or my moms “Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls” (Yep, that’s an actual item on the menu at the Stewart home).
Besides the food, it may even be a relative we see not enough and certainly the dynamics of everyone when they come together. For many families, that experience along with the food, can be a recipe in and of itself which drives us to partake in our special refreshment too!
Whatever it may be (people, food, or how we prepare it) there are certain item(s) which distinguishes your tradition from others and makes your Thanksgiving Holiday special in your own family tradition.
Your Organization is Unique Too
So what’s the point with regards to software technology for non profits? To the point, despite the entire country celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday and likely consuming tons of Turkey, each family has something which makes our day “unique” or “distinguishes” us from other families celebrating this holiday.
Like families during the holiday, each nonprofit comes to the table every day with different people, processes, and traditions of serving their members or donors needs. In short, regardless of being classified as a nonprofit, each and every organization is comprised of different people, business process rules, constraints, biases, strategy, & missions for your organization.
Yes, there are literally thousands nonprofits in the United States. And, despite working with hundreds of nonprofits over the years, each and every time I visit a nonprofit I find something special about each and everyone which will ultimately dictate the proper solution required to be the best fit. Simply put, I focus on what distinguishes your plate from others.
First Things First in Your Search
Therefore, I encourage you too. The fundamental task which should be done first in the software evaluation process is to focus on an organization’s uniqueness. For many who are quick to react and have the “I need it now” approach this will be a hard piece of turkey to swallow for sure.
I understand for many this is counterintuitive and often difficult to do. But in order to truly be able to make a decision in the end, it’s imperative to focus on you
and your organization first.
While assuming is not a good idea when dealing with software vendors and functionality, you can safely assume that you are different than similar nonprofits. And, I am here to testify to that fact as well.
Today, most organizations start with technology reviews or calling up peers rather than center their attention on themselves. Further, they start out by reviewing software demonstrations which certainly is a drain and cost center for all parties involved in the “demo days” approach to software selection.
And, one of the most common things I hear from executives, is that they spend countless and often useless time searching aimlessly watching webcasts online, virtual window shopping every vendor in the space, & focusing on price to determine their next software system.
Software Vendors are Unique Too!
Throughout the years, I have been through hundreds of software selection review projects. And, spent many hours with hundreds of software vendors too. And, as true as the fact that nonprofits are unique, software vendors are unique too. They come to the proverbial table with different ways they approach solving problems. And, despite some misconceptions they are not all turkeys either!
Having said that, I believe that there is a better way to assess and select software. The challenge is taking your uniqueness and matching it with the uniqueness of the software options. And, in order to do just that, your software selection project should start with a little soul searching led by a structured approach to software selection.
Smart Steps Before The Software Demos
In a SMART software evaluation process, it’s imperative before the demo days or vendor calls to first:
Define who within your organization should be part of the shopping process.
Define your timeline for evaluating, implementing, and launching the new system.
Put together and prioritize a list of all requirements, wish list items, and goals that you hope the new nonprofit software will address. Make sure to clearly differentiate between the wish-list and the core needs.
Consider your budget. While price is not the only factor, it certainly is a big one for many to come to grips with.
Review all the software your nonprofit has in place now.
Determine where you have been and why your arrived at this point.
Define what you truly need in order to do better and reach your return on mission.
Analyze how you may better leverage your strengths (people and processes).
Refine your business processes where needed.
Then, take some time to learn about the different software vendors that are in the market. Create a short list of vendors. Remember, this is the last point on the list for a reason!
This Thanksgiving we want every organization to be thankful that you chose the right software partner. And, know that not everyone has to live with a software turkey either!
Happy Thanksgiving! Be thankful for the important people in your lives, and enjoy those little things which distinguishes your plate from others on this special day of gratitude!
Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.