I get the opportunity to visit many organizations and learn about their business models, their particular approach to the market place and gain insights into how they tick. Often, technology is seen as a necessary component to making it all work, but is viewed as a back office function that is demoted to a cost center (and an expensive one at that). The constant need to upgrade hardware, keep team members trained on the latest versions of software and renewing maintenance contracts are a necessary evil to keep it all going. To top it off, technology is often challenged to keep up with the speed of business, can be inflexible and is positioned to be more reactive than proactive.
I’ve found this to be particularly true in the non-profit sector. Now this is a sweeping statement, but from my experience, the typical environment has elements of multiple platforms merged together to meet the organizations overall needs. The average age of the equipment is older than that found in the typical enterprise and, due to budget limitations, purchasing new hardware and carrying out the necessary upgrades is impractical. This all has the unfortunate result of creating higher operational costs to keep it all going and puts the team responsible for IT decisions in a more reactive role than a proactive one. Throw in challenges and concerns for compliance with regulations from HIPAA to PCI and the overall protection and security of their organizations data. This IT predicament can impact organizational performance, responsiveness, expenses and ultimately, the organizations ability to deliver on their mission.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Through outsourcing the IT function, or certain routine operational elements and functions such as email, backups and monitoring, the headaches can be removed and the organization can be assured of a stable platform backed by service level agreements — at an overall lower total cost of ownership.
By outsourcing these types of functions, instead of spending 80 percent of the management time in a firefighting mode, that time can be spend on furthering the mission. Whether that is rolling out tracking and reporting functionality to help donors better understand how their dollars are being spent or moving forward with initiatives like game changing mobile fundraising approaches.
There is a new way to build and manage the infrastructure for these non-profits enterprises that can take IT from a necessary cost center to a transformational advantage.