Australian not-for-profits operate in an increasingly competitive marketplace with constantly evolving government regulations. In this complex and continuously evolving environment, many NFPs struggle to have the time or resources to focus on some areas that can help achieve long-term success and financial strength.
That’s where technology falls. As IT is not a core for NFPs and there’s the misconception that is too expensive, IT is left on the side as long as it’s doing an OK job. However, NFPs fail to see the opportunities that IT can bring to help effectively deliver on their mission and support their cause.
In the current environment, it’s not an option anymore. The strategic adoption of technology within NFPs is crucial as otherwise, organisations can risk becoming obsolete.
A strong partnership with an experienced IT provider can allow NFPs to focus on their core business, while the IT provider takes care of their technology systems and infrastructure. IT providers can, therefore, play a critical role in improving IT within the NFP sector.
This article introduces the key challenges for NFPs today, along with the ways in which an IT provider can add value to your not-for-profit business.
Key challenges for NFPs
From our experience, there are many similarities with the issues faced by NFPs and how they use technology within their organisation. Most NFPs that have engaged us in the past are trying to solve one or many of the challenges below:
- NFPs can have limited exposure to IT trends, so don’t know what’s available to them or how to implement them.
- User adoption and lack of training on new technology results on technology not being explored to their full potential (waste of time and cost investment).
- Lack of resources – One internal IT person with no extra support. No one to develop IT projects, to cover sick days or to work on IT plans and strategy.
- Lack of strategy or IT consulting. The NFP doesn’t have IT guidance or direction.
- Ignoring IT issues and using a Band-Aid ad-hoc approach to infrastructure and systems, which leads to downtime and ends up being highly costly.
- Difficult or inefficient communication between offices or between remote workers and volunteers.
- IT security – lack of control and procedures.
- Systems that don’t integrate – lack of workplace collaboration.
- The need to have IT assisting with Governance.
How an IT provider can add value to your NFP
1. Ensure compliance with sector regulations
IT compliance is a critical consideration for NFPs. Australian and international laws and standards are constantly changing, and it can be difficult to keep up. Many organisations are so focused on their core business that compliance is often given a lower priority. But if you experience a data breach or critical information loss, then your organisation is at risk of fines, penalties and reputational damage. If you are an NFP in the aged care, health vertical or any services that handle sensitive personal data, you should ensure that employees are always on the lookout for phishing and social engineering attacks. An experienced IT provider can help you to navigate this maze, building a comprehensive compliance and privacy strategy to protect your organisation.
2. Optimise spending and deliver innovative technology at discounted rates
It’s important to adopt the right technologies to allow your business to grow and your IT provider can help you to develop a comprehensive digital transformation strategy that also leverages your NFP status. This includes securing special rates on hardware, software and services with many vendors offering discounts of up to 90% to NFPs. We often find that NFPs have not yet signed up for access to donated or discounted IT assets due to the difficulty of the signup process or they are simply not aware they exist. Your IT provider can assist you in this process, which is a one-time investment that will benefit your organisation for many years to come.
3. Keep technology up to date
An end-of-life product is one that no longer receives support from the vendor and is at the end of its useful lifespan. EOL products experience more frequent outages and problems that are difficult to resolve, leading to an inefficient and unstable working environment. They can also introduce unnecessary security risks and are more expensive in the long run as they require constant support and fixing. Your IT provider can identify EOL hardware and software and recommend upgrades or alternative solutions to ensure your business can continue to run effectively and productively, with a minimum of downtime.
4. Support for multiple offices, remote workers and volunteers
With employees often spread across disparate locations, it’s essential for modern NFPs to have an efficient network environment and a suite of applications that enable staff to collaborate effectively and access critical files while on the move. Your IT provider can recommend and install the optimum solutions to support multiple offices, remote workers and volunteer staff.
5. Provide training and facilitate awareness and user adoption
It’s important to plan carefully for the sustainable future of any new technology that you deploy and this includes training and ongoing support. A comprehensive employee education strategy is now more relevant than ever, as new technology products evolve rapidly and new systems are adopted. If your employees don’t know how to use your technology then their productivity will suffer, and your business will have wasted valuable time and money.
6. 360-degree IT visibility and strategic planning
Your various IT components should always interconnect seamlessly. If your technology is not integrated and strategically planned, then departments will buy and use different solutions that don’t communicate properly with each other. This impedes collaboration and creates ongoing issues that damage your competitive edge. For example, you wouldn’t want to deploy a new Wi-Fi network and subsequently discover that it doesn’t support your video conferencing system.
7. Deliver a responsive IT support model
NFPs often depend on applications such as CRM or clocking systems that are supported by in-house staff. Typically, these support teams are over-worked and must juggle high-level tasks with basic admin services such as password resets and adding/removing users. Outsourcing these functions to an IT provider allows your employees to focus on more valuable tasks. End users usually experience a marked improvement in customer service once these functions have been outsourced to a responsive IT support provider. NFPs tend to operate in a dynamic environment, with a casual workforce and frequent mergers and acquisitions. Your IT support model must be capable of responding to these changes, without being locked into a static position.
By engaging the right IT provider, you can develop an effective technology strategy that complements your business and meets your budget. To learn more, call Bremmar today on 1300-991-351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org