Phase III – Work with a Partner Who Understands
We’ve talked about preparing, research, and gathering information on software solutions in Phases I and II. In Phase III we want to urge you to spend as much time selecting a partner to assist you in your software selection and implementation as you do the software.
Most solution providers have an excellent understanding of the software they represent. However that is only a portion of the understanding required to truly help the nonprofits that enlist them. In order to be of optimal service to a nonprofit, a solution provider needs to understand the software, technology, nonprofits, and fund accounting.
Phase III of the Nonprofit Software Selection Journey is all about selecting a solution partner who understands the full picture: software, technology, nonprofits, and fund accounting.
Work with a Partner Who Understands Nonprofits
Would you rather work with a partner who has worked extensively with a variety of nonprofit organizations, or a partner who, for the most part, works with commercial business and only occasionally works with nonprofits?
A solution partner who works exclusively with nonprofit organizations will be a better partner for you because they understand the challenges and aspirations of nonprofits. With an exclusive focus on nonprofits, they’ve seen hundreds of ways nonprofits can use software and technology in ways to remain compliant, do more with less, answer the demands for accountability and transparency, and provide better service for constituents.
There are other mission critical solutions that a nonprofit relies on. How will your new fund accounting interact with fundraising, online giving, school administration, grant management, medical billing, payroll, human resources, and other organizational solutions? When you have a partner whose sole focus is nonprofit organizations, they know the integration points between various solutions and can advise you on how best to work with these various solutions.
Work with a Partner Who Understands Grant and Fund Accounting
Functional expense reporting, cross fiscal year grant reporting, allocation management, program efficiency, 990 reporting – can you educate a solution partner on these things sufficiently to ensure your new software solution is configured correctly from chart of accounts to reporting?
You could, but that’s a big responsibility to heap on top of an already intense software selection process. Better that your solution partner understands these things coming into the project – and can share examples of how they’ve handled these areas for other nonprofits they’ve assisted (we’ll get into this in more detail in Phase IV).
A partner with deep expertise in fund accounting not only understands the requirements; they understand them in the context of best practices and ways to automate the necessary workflows in order to make life easier for you and your team.
Work with a Partner Who Understands Technology
A partner who has experience with multiple technology platforms will best serve you. Why? Because if they only work with one type of technology, that is the platform they will be recommending to you.
Because we’ve worked with both on-premise and cloud-based technology platforms, we can help you compare and contrast more effectively. We can also guide you in calculating a more accurate Total Cost of Ownership and Return on Investment.
A strong technology partner can advise you on which solutions can be integrated and which cannot. They can give you the pros and cons of highly customized solutions. All of which prevents you from unwittingly dropping into a solution money pit where in order to keep the solution working as it should from version to version additional investment is needed.
Work with a Partner Who Understands the Software
You’ll want a partner whose team hold all the credentials and certifications and have been through the publisher’s training program.
Most solution partners have the credentials for the software they represent. But what separates a trained solution partner for an expert nonprofit and technology partner is all the focus and experience we’ve outlined above.