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Make Smart Software Decisions
Ohio Nonprofit Technology &
Communications Summit
September 30, 2016
Introductions
Karen Graham
Executive Director
Idealware
karen@idealware.org
@karentgraham
Introductions
www.idealware.org
Three Major Steps to New Software
2.
Exploring and
Choosing
Software
3.
Successfully
Rolling Out
1.
Defining Your
Needs an...
What We’ll Cover
• Do You Need a New System?
• Right-Size Your Process
• Evaluating Your Choices
• Making Your Choice
Do You Need a New System?
Switching to a New System Is Hard
It’s often time consuming and costly to:
• Evaluate new systems.
• Move data from one sy...
Talk With Your Staff
• How critical are the issues with the current
system? How time consuming?
• How much time would it t...
Talk to Your Vendor or Consultant
Can some or all of
your issues be
addressed through
features you didn’t
know about?
Trai...
Maybe It’s Time to Switch
It might be time to switch if:
• You’ve outgrown your system.
• It’s out of date
• It just doesn...
Is it Worth the Investment?
How do you know?
Brainstorm possible
costs and benefits.
This Is a Discussion Starter
Benefits
$16K to $100K
Intangibles
+
Costs
$40K to $60K
Intangibles
+
Right-Size Your Software Selection
Process
Small purchase?
• Pick one or two popular options.
• See if they fit your needs.
• If so, call it done!
Minor Investment =...
Large purchase?
• Do substantial research.
• Seriously consider several
systems.
• Define your needs carefully.
Major Inve...
Who Should Be Involved in Decision Making?
Your technology team.
Make sure you have
executive buy-in and
oversight.
Includ...
Define Project Goals
When do you
need to complete
the project?
How much staff
time will you
allocate?
What is your
project...
Identify Your Software Goals
What do you
hope to achieve?
How will you
define success?
What is included
in this software
u...
What Do You Really Need?
• What features are
essential?
• What would be nice to
have?
• What is unnecessary?
What do you want the system to do?
Traditional Requirements Gathering
Umm… it would be
great if I could
look up info about...
Group Requirement Definition
What do you want the system to do?
Requirement #86 – lets
you easily enter a second
address l...
Contextual Requirement Definition
Well, first I add them
to the email database
so I don’t forget…
What are you currently d...
Individual Visions
What would be on your dream dashboard?
Members up for
renewal? How about
my target numbers?
Group Prototyping
What else would you want to see on this dashboard?
How would our major
donors fit in here?
Consider a Requirements Spreadsheet
This can be a very useful way to
document everything that comes up…
but make sure you ...
Mark Only Critical Items as “Must Have”
“Must Have” means you literally cannot use
a system if it doesn’t have that one fe...
Make sure you’re not
“building a cathedral”
to the way you’ve
always done
things.
Don’t Get Stuck with Outdated Processes
Model Your Processes to Best Practices
Understand how you’re
currently doing the tasks
related to the project.
Consider st...
Improve Processes With Stakeholder Input
• What’s working well?
• What drives you
bonkers?
• Where do you think
there coul...
Make a Physical Map
Use sticky notes on a wall—they’re easy to move around and change.
Ask Yourself These Questions
 Do you need a new
system?
 What will the future look
like with your new
technology?
 How ...
It Might Not Be Easy
What are the barriers to a successful process for your org?
Evaluating Your Options
Research a Short List
Based on your needs, winnow
down to a list of 2 – 5 systems
that seem plausible for your
needs.
How ...
Check for Research
Idealware, NTEN, TechSoup, and membership associations
frequently publish articles and reports on softw...
Ask Organizations Like Yours
Ask your peers what they’re using—call people or post to
discussion groups.
Wocintechchat.com
Define A Handful of “Gateway” Criteria
What are your top
needs? Is what
you’re asking for
even possible?
Consider a SHORT Request for Information
A lengthy RFP
may not get you
the information
you really need.
Pick Systems to Demo
Choose your top
2 – 4 contenders.
Schedule Live Demos With Vendors
Contact vendors
and tell them
you’d like to
schedule an hour-
long online demo.
Unless th...
Send Demo-ers a List of Questions
Provide examples to see
how each system will meet
your needs.
Consider even creating a
s...
Ask About the Most Important Functions
Ask vendors directly to go
through YOUR processes one
at a time. Ask them to slow
d...
Don’t Get Distracted
A vendor may want to highlight all the
most exciting things the system can
do, but if you won’t use t...
Consider the Interaction
Do they understand your
sector and your
organization’s needs? Are
they responsive to your
questio...
Take Notes
• Consider a note taking
template or recording
the demo.
• If you don’t, you’ll
remember the fancy
features, bu...
Does it Have the Features You Need?
The most important
question: Does it
have your must-have
features? Your very-
useful f...
But…How Much Power Do You Really Need?
• How would you
prioritize ease vs.
power?
• Will tons of people
use the system?
Or...
Does the System Organization Make Sense?
• Is the layout intuitive
for your needs?
• Does the way it works
make sense for ...
Ask About Security
• Is data hosted in a tier-one
data center?
• How does the vendor manage
backups?
• How does the vendor...
How Much Effort for Implementation?
Consider how a system could make
the transition easier and whether or
not it will inte...
What About Support and Training?
• What sort of learning curve is expected?
• What kind of initial training does the
vendo...
What Will it Cost?
Defining what a piece of software costs is not trivial—you
need to take into account a number of differ...
Add Up All the Fees
Licensing fees
Implementation
fees (usually a
one-time cost)
Ongoing support
from consultant
or vendor...
What About Open Source?
Open Source software is “free like a puppy.”
Open source may
be free to acquire,
but it’s almost
c...
Leave Yourself Room for Implementation
Moving data, customization, and
training users may require outside
help at addition...
Making Your Choice
Stick to Your Budget
Are you overspending
because you’re
stretching to get “nice
to have” features rather
than sticking to...
You Can’t Say Everything Is Critical
If you hold out for a system
that does everything you will
ever need, you’re likely n...
Consider Scoring Your Options
Scoring based on particular features and the info you
gathered through demos can help you fo...
Evaluate the Vendors Themselves
Things to consider:
 Support capabilities
 Experience and references
 Track record
 St...
Compare Options Against Your Needs
And choose the right one for you!
Call References
Talk to people you know and trust—not just the contacts your
vendor supplies.
Review Contracts Thoroughly
Make sure the right
people are reviewing
and signing off. Double
check procedures for
signing ...
Who Owns Your Data?
Look at your contract
closely to make sure
you can get your data
back if you decide to
switch.
Uptime
Uptime figures are
typically in 9s—99%,
99.9% or 99.99%
Does the vendor provide
any guarantee of uptime?
Any histor...
It’s About Finding the Right Fit
Don’t get caught up in
latest trends or try to
imitate other
organizations—get what
you r...
Make a Thoughtful Choice
If you gather good information
and involve your team in the
process, you can be confident
you mad...
How Will You Get Started?
What’s the first step you plan to take?
Questions?
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Make Smart Software Decisions

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With dozens of options for database software, features and pricing plans to sort through, how do you choose the right system for your organization? Learn how to select your software with confidence using a proven process. Learn how to evaluate your organization's needs, assemble a software selection team, sort through your options, review and test the software, and manage a smooth implementation. Whether you are considering your very first case management or donor management system, or you hope to switch in the next year, you'll save yourself a lot of headaches by following these best practices.

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Make Smart Software Decisions

  1. 1. Make Smart Software Decisions Ohio Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit September 30, 2016
  2. 2. Introductions Karen Graham Executive Director Idealware karen@idealware.org @karentgraham
  3. 3. Introductions www.idealware.org
  4. 4. Three Major Steps to New Software 2. Exploring and Choosing Software 3. Successfully Rolling Out 1. Defining Your Needs and Processes
  5. 5. What We’ll Cover • Do You Need a New System? • Right-Size Your Process • Evaluating Your Choices • Making Your Choice
  6. 6. Do You Need a New System?
  7. 7. Switching to a New System Is Hard It’s often time consuming and costly to: • Evaluate new systems. • Move data from one system to another. • Train staff on the new system.
  8. 8. Talk With Your Staff • How critical are the issues with the current system? How time consuming? • How much time would it take to learn a new system? • Does everyone who uses the system see the switch as necessary?
  9. 9. Talk to Your Vendor or Consultant Can some or all of your issues be addressed through features you didn’t know about? Training? Add-ons?
  10. 10. Maybe It’s Time to Switch It might be time to switch if: • You’ve outgrown your system. • It’s out of date • It just doesn’t meet your needs It’s not going to get MORE useful over time.
  11. 11. Is it Worth the Investment? How do you know? Brainstorm possible costs and benefits.
  12. 12. This Is a Discussion Starter Benefits $16K to $100K Intangibles + Costs $40K to $60K Intangibles +
  13. 13. Right-Size Your Software Selection Process
  14. 14. Small purchase? • Pick one or two popular options. • See if they fit your needs. • If so, call it done! Minor Investment = Minor Research
  15. 15. Large purchase? • Do substantial research. • Seriously consider several systems. • Define your needs carefully. Major Investment = Big Research Project
  16. 16. Who Should Be Involved in Decision Making? Your technology team. Make sure you have executive buy-in and oversight. Include those who will be affected by the change.
  17. 17. Define Project Goals When do you need to complete the project? How much staff time will you allocate? What is your projected budget? Wocintechchat.com
  18. 18. Identify Your Software Goals What do you hope to achieve? How will you define success? What is included in this software update and what isn’t? This could require a single meeting, or a month-long process.
  19. 19. What Do You Really Need? • What features are essential? • What would be nice to have? • What is unnecessary?
  20. 20. What do you want the system to do? Traditional Requirements Gathering Umm… it would be great if I could look up info about a member…
  21. 21. Group Requirement Definition What do you want the system to do? Requirement #86 – lets you easily enter a second address line for a member.
  22. 22. Contextual Requirement Definition Well, first I add them to the email database so I don’t forget… What are you currently doing?
  23. 23. Individual Visions What would be on your dream dashboard? Members up for renewal? How about my target numbers?
  24. 24. Group Prototyping What else would you want to see on this dashboard? How would our major donors fit in here?
  25. 25. Consider a Requirements Spreadsheet This can be a very useful way to document everything that comes up… but make sure you prioritize.
  26. 26. Mark Only Critical Items as “Must Have” “Must Have” means you literally cannot use a system if it doesn’t have that one feature. Marking everything as critical seriously limits your ability to make good choices
  27. 27. Make sure you’re not “building a cathedral” to the way you’ve always done things. Don’t Get Stuck with Outdated Processes
  28. 28. Model Your Processes to Best Practices Understand how you’re currently doing the tasks related to the project. Consider standardizing to best practices, or optimize them to reduce inefficiencies.
  29. 29. Improve Processes With Stakeholder Input • What’s working well? • What drives you bonkers? • Where do you think there could be improvement?
  30. 30. Make a Physical Map Use sticky notes on a wall—they’re easy to move around and change.
  31. 31. Ask Yourself These Questions  Do you need a new system?  What will the future look like with your new technology?  How much return will we get from new software?  What’s the right size process for us?  How do we lay a strong groundwork of goals and processes?  Does our organization need to change to make this software work?  How do we effectively define what will really be useful to us?
  32. 32. It Might Not Be Easy What are the barriers to a successful process for your org?
  33. 33. Evaluating Your Options
  34. 34. Research a Short List Based on your needs, winnow down to a list of 2 – 5 systems that seem plausible for your needs. How do you do this?
  35. 35. Check for Research Idealware, NTEN, TechSoup, and membership associations frequently publish articles and reports on software.
  36. 36. Ask Organizations Like Yours Ask your peers what they’re using—call people or post to discussion groups. Wocintechchat.com
  37. 37. Define A Handful of “Gateway” Criteria What are your top needs? Is what you’re asking for even possible?
  38. 38. Consider a SHORT Request for Information A lengthy RFP may not get you the information you really need.
  39. 39. Pick Systems to Demo Choose your top 2 – 4 contenders.
  40. 40. Schedule Live Demos With Vendors Contact vendors and tell them you’d like to schedule an hour- long online demo. Unless they’re huge, they should be happy to do this. Wocintechchat.com
  41. 41. Send Demo-ers a List of Questions Provide examples to see how each system will meet your needs. Consider even creating a script for them to follow.
  42. 42. Ask About the Most Important Functions Ask vendors directly to go through YOUR processes one at a time. Ask them to slow down if you can’t follow them.
  43. 43. Don’t Get Distracted A vendor may want to highlight all the most exciting things the system can do, but if you won’t use them, the bells and whistles don’t matter.
  44. 44. Consider the Interaction Do they understand your sector and your organization’s needs? Are they responsive to your questions? Do you feel as though you can trust the people?
  45. 45. Take Notes • Consider a note taking template or recording the demo. • If you don’t, you’ll remember the fancy features, but not all the nuts-and-bolts of what you need.
  46. 46. Does it Have the Features You Need? The most important question: Does it have your must-have features? Your very- useful features?
  47. 47. But…How Much Power Do You Really Need? • How would you prioritize ease vs. power? • Will tons of people use the system? Or just a few power users?
  48. 48. Does the System Organization Make Sense? • Is the layout intuitive for your needs? • Does the way it works make sense for the way you work?
  49. 49. Ask About Security • Is data hosted in a tier-one data center? • How does the vendor manage backups? • How does the vendor test its software for vulnerabilities? • What steps will it take if there is a data breach? • Does the software allow you to restrict data by user?
  50. 50. How Much Effort for Implementation? Consider how a system could make the transition easier and whether or not it will integrate with or even replace your current systems.
  51. 51. What About Support and Training? • What sort of learning curve is expected? • What kind of initial training does the vendor offer? • How does the vendor offer support for problems?
  52. 52. What Will it Cost? Defining what a piece of software costs is not trivial—you need to take into account a number of different factors.
  53. 53. Add Up All the Fees Licensing fees Implementation fees (usually a one-time cost) Ongoing support from consultant or vendor Configuration or migration fees from consultant or vendor Monthly or annual maintenance Staff time— both to get it running and maintaining it
  54. 54. What About Open Source? Open Source software is “free like a puppy.” Open source may be free to acquire, but it’s almost certainly not free to setup, configure, support and update.
  55. 55. Leave Yourself Room for Implementation Moving data, customization, and training users may require outside help at additional cost. Ongoing costs can add up too.
  56. 56. Making Your Choice
  57. 57. Stick to Your Budget Are you overspending because you’re stretching to get “nice to have” features rather than sticking to core needs?
  58. 58. You Can’t Say Everything Is Critical If you hold out for a system that does everything you will ever need, you’re likely not to find anything.
  59. 59. Consider Scoring Your Options Scoring based on particular features and the info you gathered through demos can help you focus on the real differences between systems.
  60. 60. Evaluate the Vendors Themselves Things to consider:  Support capabilities  Experience and references  Track record  Stability
  61. 61. Compare Options Against Your Needs And choose the right one for you!
  62. 62. Call References Talk to people you know and trust—not just the contacts your vendor supplies.
  63. 63. Review Contracts Thoroughly Make sure the right people are reviewing and signing off. Double check procedures for signing contracts.
  64. 64. Who Owns Your Data? Look at your contract closely to make sure you can get your data back if you decide to switch.
  65. 65. Uptime Uptime figures are typically in 9s—99%, 99.9% or 99.99% Does the vendor provide any guarantee of uptime? Any historic uptime figures? Is there compensation for major downtime incidents?
  66. 66. It’s About Finding the Right Fit Don’t get caught up in latest trends or try to imitate other organizations—get what you really need.
  67. 67. Make a Thoughtful Choice If you gather good information and involve your team in the process, you can be confident you made the right decision.
  68. 68. How Will You Get Started? What’s the first step you plan to take?
  69. 69. Questions?

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