Is it possible to improve your NFP IT systems on a limited budget and/or without exponential capex costs? The answer is yes! Check how we helped Aboriginal Family Law Services to do it.
Does your organisation need new systems to remain competitive, but introducing new technology is fraught with danger? Check the main challenges that modern businesses face when planning IT changes.
By Brenton Harris, Managing Director
For your NFP to prosper in today’s competitive market, it’s essential to continually evolve and improve. Investment in the latest technology is a key component of this process. Technology changes rapidly, and systems that were cutting-edge several years ago may already be obsolete. If your organisation fails to innovate, then you risk being left behind and giving other NFPs an advantage, especially when applying for funds.
Slow systems and out-dated equipment make it difficult to remain competitive, but introducing new technology is also fraught with danger. If things go wrong, the new technology can quickly become an even greater risk to the success of your organisation. Below are the most common challenges that modern businesses face when planning for technological change.
1. Resistance to change
Getting employees and stakeholders to support change is often the biggest challenge. People may be used to working in a certain way and may voice concerns about how the new technology will disrupt them or upset the status quo. This resistance is often due to a limited understanding of the benefits of the new solution.
How to overcome?
We have seen many clients struggle with this issue when introducing a new technology, so as part of our projects we now recommend that our clients choose a few technology ambassadors to take on and promote the new solution. That eases the resistance to change and allows us to have a few points of contact to express their feelings towards the new product, including frustration and difficulties so we can address them at early stages of the project.
2. Integration with legacy infrastructure
New technology will not always integrate seamlessly with existing systems and processes. It’s also not unusual to discover that employees are reliant on unofficial or unsupported tools to perform their roles. Productivity may take a major hit if the new solution results in process failures, loss of data, system outages or duplicated workloads.
How to overcome?
Ideally, before suggesting or implementing any new solution you should conduct a review of your IT environment. If properly done, you will have an understanding of where you’re at with your IT and will be provided with a report stating which new technology you can consider. Sometimes, your review will even show that your systems are inefficient and extremely costly to the business, so it’s worth considering a full technology upgrade. That’s not always the case, but we strongly recommend that you have a full review done and work following an IT roadmap rather than take the Band-Aid approach, which you add some technology here and there and then when you less realise, it’s all mess!
3. Lack of funding and resources
New technology is expensive and securing the necessary budget can be a significant challenge. Funding bodies, such as Lottery West, are clamping down on ICT infrastructure capital funding. It can be hard to convince senior executives that the technology is necessary. Management is constantly trying to determine the most effective way to allocate funds, so if you don’t have a strong business case then the project may never get off the ground.
How to overcome?
Cloud has made things a bit easier in that respect. Platforms, such as Office 365, allows businesses to pay per user and as a subscription model, which you can upgrade or cancel at any time. The days of expensive servers and overcomplicated infrastructure are almost gone, so we recommend that you constantly talk to your Managed Service Provider about new technology as some of them can be trialled before committing or don’t require extensive amounts of capital expenditure.
4. Employee education
Employees may have been using existing tools for many years and be very familiar with how they operate. A lack of training on the new solution will result in loss of productivity and increased demand on support teams.
How to overcome?
Besides the extensive amounts of online videos that can help your staff to learn and use new technology, what we suggest is pretty straight-forward: Invest in training! What’s the point of investing in the best technology, overcoming all the challenges mentioned in this article and have staff that don’t use the new solution properly, or even worse, your business never takes it to its full potential?
You don’t have to go crazy with training and invest heaps of money and time, however, you will benefit more from a structured approach. Training through the year will give your staff time to understand, digest information and be able to apply their new knowledge to the solution. We also recommend occasional Lunch & Learn sessions, which is a more informal approach to training and gives the users an open space to ask questions and discuss their difficulties with the solution.
5. Security risks
SMBs are a major target for cyber-criminals and sophisticated hackers are continually probing your defences, searching for vulnerabilities. If new technology is introduced without proper consideration of the security implications, you may be exposing your organisation to attack.
How to overcome?
Conduct a thorough security review of the product you are introducing to your business and also perform a review of your IT to have a good understanding of how this new solution will fit within your current environment so are aware of any implications or complexities. Questions such as password policies, different levels of user access and protection processes and efforts should be on top of the list!
6. Data storage
Many businesses store data in separate silos, with various departments having their own databases and applications. This is an inefficient approach, which restricts collaboration, so it’s important to ensure that any new technology solution brings these distinct silos together under one platform. However, important to keep in mind that by storing all information in the same place, you risk a catastrophic loss if this data is not properly backed up and quickly recoverable.
How to overcome?
We might be biased as we use SharePoint in our business and fully recommend it. All information is centralised in one hub that every staff has access to, either in the office or while on the go (and on any device), and is an easy but powerful tool to use, especially if you already have Office 365 as it might be already included in your plan.
When choosing the software or app for your business, it’s important to know the product’s security policies and also where your data will be handled and located. Office 365 adheres to strict security and compliance requirements. This includes ISO 27018, which is a code of practice that focuses on protection of personal data in the cloud. For compliance reasons, it’s also important to know that all your data will be stored locally in Australia.
The platform also keeps data secured as Microsoft has redundancy in place and offers protection from any incidents that may happen at its data centres, providing protection against system based failures on their platform. The service also comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee to keep running for longer. We do recommend a cloud backup product though, such as Skykick.
Evolving your IT and adopting new technology is exciting whilst a scary and a big move for any organisation. Change is needed and, if implemented properly, your organisation will more than likely benefit from developing your systems rather than suffer.
Technology is a critical part of your organisation, and by recognising these common pitfalls you can take measures to protect your business. The right IT partner will help you pick the right IT solutions for you, provide strategic guidance, consultancy, and tailor the training towards your industry.
For our clients, Bremmar manages everything from initial consultation, to grant application assistance, data migration, training and ongoing management. We are experienced in helping organisations maximise the discounted technology available. Since we regularly help Not-For-Profits identify and leverage technology that is suited to their needs, we’d like to share our best tips with you.
If you want to learn more about technology challenges and how to overcome them, contact Bremmar today on 1300-991-351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to articles