There is no denying that the evolution of technology often challenges our capacity for change. Whilst many managers recognise the potential for organisational benefits offered by information technology, some consider the speed of IT development a hindrance.
A study conducted by Tech Trust discovered that most partner charities they interviewed (58%) did not have a defined digital strategy. The charities that did were reported to be more optimistic about the future of their organisations than those without. 92% of the charities with a digital strategy, reported they had:
- more confidence in future planning and the ability to meet strategic goals,
- increased productivity and efficiency,
- better protection from risk.
However, the vast array of information technology options within the modern digital network can make choosing the optimum approach for your organisation overwhelming. Due to the nature of their work and size of their team, most charitable organisations will consequently seek advice from companies with expertise in this area. Even here, it can be a tough decision on choosing the best partner, one who will help keep your organisation working at its optimum level.
Here are a few options to consider when seeking a partnership to deliver on your digital demands:
Understands your business
Top on the list of priorities, a technology partner MUST understand the nature of your organisation's mission and vision. Any options or decisions that are made are kept in line with this, rather than promoting a standard “out of the box” solution.
A skilled consultant will explore the intricacies of your business, listening to your requirements, understanding what impact their solution will have on all areas within the organisation- both long and short term and on those involved in the process.
This can be established through references and contact with similar organisations. Most companies will have a testimonial or case study on their website, but how regularly is this being updated, or has it been on their site since it was originally launched? A reputable organisation should have the type of engagement with their clients that they are happy to provide recommendations.
Nor is there any harm in requesting to speak to previous clients and hearing the “raw” facts about their experience. If this matches the service providers claims, you can be assured that you are on the right path to a successful partnership.
For some, the potential partner will be judged simply on how long their business has been running. While this is an important aspect, a seasoned consultant generally understands how new technologies interact with your existing system and should identify a realistic plan for your company - experience doesn’t necessarily equal expertise.
Simply put: “Experience” means you have done something a lot
“Expertise” means you have done something a lot and you do it well, through accuracy and caring
The key to uncovering a company’s expertise is their ability to listen effectively, provide accurate details based on your requirements and engage regularly with software development. Most importantly, your potential partner should share your organisations vision and work with you to achieve this, taking pride in their work.
One way to qualify “Expertise” is by requesting references and examples on projects similar to yours. A company that takes pride in their delivery will be happy to share this information; granting you confidence in their ability.
The budget is critical for all non-profit organisations, who are naturally concerned that their money is being spent in the right areas. Key qualities in the right partner therefore include not only their ability, but also their agility to provide different cost options, which keep in line with your financial resources.
Of course, the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the smartest option. In terms of technology, “cheap” can often mean unreliable or “off the shelf” which will ultimately cause complications later. Examples include customisability, backups, options to add or remove users. Flexibility and reliability are key within the Third Sector
Data security is also paramount, with recent cyber attacks and GDPR regulations playing their part, it is crucial for an organisation to invest in the protection of their data.
Project implementation and aftercare
When agreement has been reached, it is in both parties’ interest to deliver and implement the solution as quickly and efficiently as possible. This requires an experienced team, who understand the purpose as well as the specification. A qualified partner should be realistic on the likely time scales for the work involved and clearly set this out for you. You can then plan efficiently around any implications the intervention could have for your organisation.
Large scale projects may follow the principle of a single step forward, feedback, adapt and proceed for successful implementation, as undoubtedly unforeseen complications could arise, which experts in the field should be able to solve. At the same time, this approach allows greater control of risk.
A trusted partner should ensure that they are conducting regular meetings with key members of staff and stakeholders to identify shortfalls and individual training needs. Follow-ups and scheduled review dates should be conducted with a dedicated account manager. This will give you a process and peace of mind that they are working properly with you as your organisation develops.
With all these options, high-value communication and transparency is what really classifies the trusted tech partner. Your reliance on their solution for your organisation can only work if you are kept up to date every step of the way. From initial enquiry through to implementation and beyond, you should be the first to understand what steps they are taking, who they are involving within their team and who they need to call on within your organisation to ensure this process is smooth for all involved.
Being open, honest and direct will guarantee you don’t just get a solution that works, but you’ll have a partner who shares your belief in tangible value, achieved through long-term, future-focused client relationships.
Gallery Partnership are exhibitors at our IT & Digital Conference
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