Establishing sound not for profit technology foundations
20 September 2021 at 5:59 pm
All organisations should have in place sound technology foundations to help them make the most of their ability to deliver services to those who need it most, writes David Spriggs.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the not-for-profit sector. Organisations are daunted by the challenge of shedding outdated systems and manual processes and then having to reinvent themselves into virtual service providers.
Implementing a new technology environment is a challenge for any organisation, especially for a not for profit where staff need to learn how to use new software and processes to support their clients and collaborate.
I’m constantly surprised by the number of organisations we encounter that are working within substandard legacy technology environments. This impacts their team members’ ability to effectively work from home as well as the organisation’s capacity to deliver services to clients.
Infoxchange’s Digital Technology in the Not-For-Profit Sector 2020 report found that organisations who had not yet moved to the cloud were more than four times as likely to be mostly or completely unprepared for staff to work from home.
Two out of five not for profits were not yet in the cloud and smaller organisations were more likely to be lagging behind.
While early results from our 2021 survey indicate that more organisations are starting to make the journey, key barriers still include:
- expensive or insufficient internet connectivity;
- recent investments in on-premises technology infrastructure;
- migration cost;
- lack of knowledge of/familiarity with the cloud; and
- lack of time/prioritisation.
All organisations should have in place sound technology foundations to help them make the most of their ability to deliver services to those who need it most.
The barriers outlined above are not new. Sometimes they are caused by management being unfamiliar or uncomfortable with cloud computing.
Other times it is related to the shortcomings of third-party suppliers. It may be as simple as an organisation being hesitant to adapt as they know the rollout of new systems can be challenging.
Organisations need to stop taking the view that they can continue to make do with what they have and that the needed improvements are unattainable, unrealistic or unaffordable.
The first step on the journey is to create a modernisation plan for your technology environment. Adopting cloud computing using platforms like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, which are available as a donation to most not for profits, goes a long way to enabling staff to work from home and collaborate more effectively.
Today, it is imperative that every not for profit provides their staff and volunteers with a cloud-based platform that offers:
- an email and calendaring service, allowing staff and volunteers to securely access their email and calendars and view the availability of team members, rooms and vehicles;
- a collaboration and communications tool like Microsoft Teams or Google Meet, which enables video conferencing, chat and file sharing; and
- information management (file sharing) options such as OneDrive, SharePoint and Drive, that allow:
- file storage in a personal area and in shared areas for collaboration
- easy remote access to files, synchronised for offline work
- secure file storage
- a collaboration space (intranet or other) for organisational information-sharing of policies, procedures, important news and the like secure, multi-factor authentication to keep your information safe.
Just as COVID-19 will be a part of everyday life for the foreseeable future, so too will hybrid work environments continue to shape how we work and collaborate.
If you haven’t yet started your cloud journey, you can do so on the Digital Transformation Hub:
- An introduction to cloud computing
- What every not for profit should expect from Microsoft Office 365
- Microsoft 365 not-for-profit program
- Google for not for profits discount program.
Remember, this process needn’t be difficult. You can schedule a free conversation with a technology expert on the Digital Transformation Hub to talk through your options and decide how to make the move.
This article is part of a monthly column with Infoxchange exploring the importance of digital technology.