Your Software Expectation is Distorting Reality

For well over a decade, I’ve worked within the non-profit space with a focus on software. There are numerous software vendors offering a wide array of products to fit almost every conceivable need. Popular tools in the market today include Blackbaud Luminate Online, Engaged Donor by Adcieo, DonorDrive and Classy.

Servicing these tools and learning the strategy behind the fundraising, it’s become clear there is a disconnect between expectations and reality. A misconception is that when a new tool is adopted, it solves all problems. This is simply not the case.

Software is only as good as the people who use it – to put it bluntly. A common trend we see around the 12 month mark is that complaints begin to arise about features of software. I’ve seen this for the products noted, and so many others. The complaints are generally the same: It’s missing a feature, report, or is too challenging.

The Goal

After software is implemented, your staff must go through basic training in months 1 to 3. In months 3 to 6, staff should be focused on using the system independently, learning how it operates and utilizing vendor-provided training tools. Between months 6 and 12, your system experts will begin to emerge, with a majority of staff remaining as basic to novice users. However, everyone has an understanding of the tool at this point.

The Reality

Here is what happens after the software is implemented; Those who work in an information systems capacity will learn the tool to service the known needs of their internal end-users. Most internal end-users will only learn the bare minimum, usually around reporting. Which then facilitates the twelve-month complaint milestone.

I point this out, not to champion a specific tool as the end-all-solution, but to invite everyone to better understand the tools they have, to; 1) Maximize existing software tools, 2) Save money on migrations and integrations, 3) And, ensure constituents have a better experience.

When complaints begin about software, it is typical of internal end users to look for something new. This leads to new software products entering the organization, fragmenting constituent data, and making your data messy. It also makes overall reporting less accurate and much more time-consuming. What’s worse is that this can create a ‘no’ culture, because those who manage the software products fear opening the floodgates to innumerable new tool sets.

The takeaway here is to better understand the software you have available before adding new. Before assuming the worst, utilize your team to understand what’s possible and determine what solutions can be provided. This leads to streamlined processes and clean constituent data.

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