If you’re looking for new technology for your non-profit, not only is the range of options (for most toolsets) wider than ever, but the risks associated with the investment decision are also heightened in a context where funds are harder to come by and the opportunity cost of not successfully implementing the new solution is at an all-time high.
At Hart Square we’ve been supporting non-profits make those decisions for more than a decade now, and we invest heavily in understanding not just the technology options available to our clients, but also considering how decisions are made, and which ones lead to the best outcomes.
Here we’ve collated some of our learning about how bad decisions are made when organisations are looking to invest in new technology.
How bad decisions are made about new technology
Not understanding your needs.
Before you can make any technology decisions, you need to have a clear understanding of both your strategic, and operational, needs. What’s your strategy? What are you trying to achieve with technology? What do you need to do to operate effectively? What are your pain points? What are your goals? Once you understand your needs, you can start to evaluate different solutions.
Not doing your research.
There are a lot of different technology solutions out there, and it can be difficult to know which ones are right for you. That’s why it’s important to do your research. Read reviews, compare features, and talk to other organisations in your world that have used similar solutions. Use your networks, both work and personal, to get perspectives from sources you know and trust.
Not involving the right people in the decision-making process.
Technology decisions should not be made in a vacuum. You need to involve the right people in the decision-making process, including organisational stakeholders, technical staff, and end users. This will help you to ensure that the solution you choose meets the needs of everyone involved.
Not considering the long-term.
Technology decisions should not be made with the short-term in mind. You need to consider the long-term implications of your decision. How will the solution you choose affect your business in the future? Will it be adaptable and scalable? Will it be easy to maintain?
Not budgeting for the full cost of ownership.
The cost of technology is not just the initial cost of the implementation. You also need to factor in the cost of training, maintenance, and support, plus make budget available for ongoing investments and enhancements. Make sure you budget for the full cost of ownership before you make a decision.
Not having a plan for change management.
When you implement a new technology, it’s important to have a plan for change management. This will help you to ensure that your teams are prepared for the change and that they know how to use the new technology effectively.
Not being willing to change.
Technology is constantly changing, and you need to be willing to change with it. If you’re not willing to change, you’ll quickly fall behind the competition. Don’t set out to find new technology which will let you keep your old processes and ways of working intact.
Not having a backup plan.
Things don’t always go according to plan, so it’s important to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong with your project, its timeline, or even with the new technology itself. This means ensuring you have contingency and flexibility in your plans and budgets, and it could include having a fallback solution or having a plan for how to recover from a data loss event.
Not being prepared for security risks.
Technology can introduce new security risks to your non-profit. Make sure you’re prepared for these risks by having a security plan in place. This could include implementing security controls, training your employees on security best practices, and having a plan for responding to security incidents.
Not being prepared for user resistance.
Not everyone is going to be happy with the new technology you’re implementing. Make sure you’re prepared for user resistance by having a plan for how to address it. This could include providing training, offering support, and being patient, but you should also seek out champions with teams to speak positively on behalf of the project and to encourage their colleagues.
Not being willing to experiment.
Technology can be a powerful tool for innovation. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new technologies and see how they can benefit your business.
Embarking on a project to select and implement new technology should be an exciting time, it provides a great opportunity to introduce significant positive change for everyone connected to your non-profit.
However, we have seen the impact of not following this guidance and so would encourage you to follow these tips to ensure you do not fall short on your objectives.