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Is it possible to fast track digital transformation in these times?


30 July 2020 at 7:00 am
Contributor
While the term “digital disruption” is nothing new, the NFP sector reports the process of digital transformation is slow and expensive, even during a pandemic. But what if there was a way to simply and affordably fast track this process?


Contributor | 30 July 2020 at 7:00 am


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Is it possible to fast track digital transformation in these times?
30 July 2020 at 7:00 am

While the term “digital disruption” is nothing new, the NFP sector reports the process of digital transformation is slow and expensive, even during a pandemic. But what if there was a way to simply and affordably fast track this process?

The term “digital disruption” has been bandied about for over five years now in not-for-profit sector news, conference panel discussions and strategic planning days. In 2016, Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs commented that “ignoring technology is ‘no longer optional’ for NFPs.” 

And yet, the Digital Technology in the Not-for-Profit Sector Report 2019 reported that: “64 per cent of Australian and New Zealand not for profits are less than satisfied with the way they use technology and only 37 per cent of organisations have systems that allow them to understand the impact of their services and outcomes.”

Even four years ago, our sector acknowledged that the process of digital transformation was slow

Unfortunately, we are now in a situation where we have no choice. Our lives, work and community and the way we access information and community services have been disrupted. 

There’s never been a more crucial time for the not-for-profit sector to continue its important work of helping people and communities in need, but lockdowns and social distancing have presented new challenges to the way we work that many organisations weren’t prepared for. Luckily, we live in an age where technology can solve a lot of these problems, but without the appropriate amount of investment and attention, not for profits can find themselves falling behind in all things digital – and in turn, missing opportunities to make a big impact.

But where to begin?

On average, not for profits spend 6 per cent of their operating expenses on technology, or A$3,655 per FTE in Australia and NZ$3,121 per FTE in New Zealand per annum. 

Having an efficient, secure and reliable IT system in your organisation has never been more important. An IT strategy developed by a consultant can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $80,000 (or more) and this is not affordable for many NFPs. 

Connecting Up and Infoxchange have created an affordable methodology for creating a detailed, effective IT strategy for an organisation.

Multiple Sclerosis Auckland business manager Mark Blackie doesn’t mince his words when asked how useful he found Connecting Up’s IT Strategy on a Plate program.

“I would highly recommend any charity doing an IT strategy to get in touch with Connecting Up. We had been looking at band aids and were struggling to find a long-term solution to our IT problems… now we actually have a plan and are moving forward with it. This will mean greater efficiencies and services and overall better support for people with Multiple Sclerosis,” he says.

“Identifying our IT structure and applications and creating heat maps of our IT infrastructure gave a really good vehicle to see where the organisation is at. I would never have done those heat maps on my own and they were fantastic.

“Technology is vital for us to connect with the people we support but also to get work done in the office. If there is a power cut, people end up going home. It’s that simple. Having a database that our staff can access remotely is critical, for example. We’ve been using Microsoft Office and Exchange.”

One of the other advantages of working with Connecting Up, according to Blackie, is the unique position it holds as a not-for-profit IT specialist, 

“They fill a key gap in the market and being a not for profit they understand the sector,” Blackie says.

“It’s great to be able to purchase software and hardware through them because we get the benefit of Connecting Up expertise as well as the donated and discounted products they offer.”

That impact is only possible because of the donations and discounts provided by major technology companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, BitDefender and more. MS Auckland now receives a number of these donated and discounted products. 

“I’m really impressed with how we receive expert, impartial advice from people who also understand the not-for-profit sector. It makes a big difference,” Blackie says.

Connecting Up’s IT Strategy on a Plate course guides NFPs through the development of an affordable and effective digital transformation strategy for their organisation within a consultative educational framework. Since commencing the program in 2018, we have heard many stories similar to MS Auckland; participants report that it was just the kick-start they needed to hit their IT strategy goals and solve problems they had been facing for years.

With the current challenges faced by our sector, a program like IT Strategy on a Plate can speed up vital digital transformation and prepare not for profits for continued – or increased – impact in a post-COVID world.

If you’d like to learn more about Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand’s IT Strategy on a Plate program, which is currently enrolling for its 24 September 2020 cohort, click here.

If you want to understand your organisation’s digital strengths and opportunities for improvement, take our digital capability quiz at www.improveit.org.



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