2015 Nonprofit Tech Trends: User Experience in the Cloud

January 22, 2015

Blog

2015 is here, and technology innovations are constantly advancing. According to Forbes, organizations will get smarter about using cloud technology. User experience will be critical, they argue. TechRadar agrees:

By digitising information-intensive processes, costs can be cut by up to 90% and turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude.

While businesses are increasingly taking advantage of the cloud, many nonprofits have been slow to adopt these new technologies for various reasons, including lack of know-how, and receiving poor advice from consultants and volunteers.

For example, one nonprofit client I’ve recently begun working with was sold Windows Server 2003 software just a couple years ago from a different IT consultant, oblivious to the fact that it is incredibly outdated and that they didn’t even need that type of server to accomplish what they primarily use the server for: File sharing.

With my recommendation and help, the nonprofit in question is going to migrate all of their data off of this aging equipment (with misconfigured backups, to boot), onto “the cloud” (using Google Apps for Nonprofits).

I love telling nonprofit organizations about Google Apps, because it is a completely free service for nonprofit organizations through the Google Apps for Nonprofits program.

Another free service nonprofits can take advantage of is the Salesforce Platform, which offers steep discounts (as well as 10 free user licenses to their enterprise platform).

However, as a nonprofit, your mission should not be to find the cheapest (or free) services. Instead, it should be about finding which technologies best support your organizational structure and processes.

To that end, user experience is key.

As I argued in a recent presentation I gave on “Data Management for Nonprofits” here in Chattanooga, your goal in using cloud service providers is to make the technology work for your existing processes. Don’t settle for something because it is used by “x amount of organizations” or because it is cheap (or free). First, figure out your needs.

To make your life easier in finding a CRM, CMS, and/or Donor Management System that will fit your particular needs, NTEN & Idealware have teamed up and put together a report every couple of years entitled “A Consumer’s Guide to Donor Management Systems.” This is a fantastic resource, as are the other Consumer Guides that Idealware publishes.

Take your time and do your research to learn the features within a given system, and then make your decision.

A few features are probably necessary for any organization, though, including:

  • Good security
  • Ease in generating useful reports
  • Good user experience (ease of use)

These are just some of the tech trends and requirements nonprofits will be looking for in 2015, and I hope that this blog post has helped raise some useful things to think about.

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