Is the thought of selecting the right database software for your organization daunting? Although there are a host of software programs to help your nonprofit manage its donors, members, website content and connect with the people that you serve, the selection process is fairly consistent for all of them. Luckily, that process has many similarities with another you may be more familiar with—that of selecting a new place to live. To take some of the mystery out of selecting software, consider the following house-hunting criteria:
- Cost: Can you afford the initial investment and the ongoing payments? How will you justify your investment? There’s always an initial investment with software—even if it’s free or open source. To name just a few costs, think about installation costs, consulting, training, customization, documentation, and data cleaning and migration.
- Location: Are you choosing a good neighborhood—one that supports your lifestyle? For software, this translates to choosing an application that is designed to support the work of your organization? Was it developed for and is it used by people in your line of work?
- Size: What’s the right amount of space for you and your prized possessions? Can the software you are considering accommodate your data and the number of users in your organization?
- Flow: Does your life demand open-concept space or formal, dedicated rooms? Does the software include all the features your organization needs? Are those features priced as separate modules or can you purchase an all-inclusive suite of tools?
- Curb Appeal: Does the look of the house appeal to your sensibilities? Is this the place you want to come home to everyday? What about those screens the software presents to you? Are the user interfaces easy and attractive to work with? For you? For other staff?
- Renovations: To make this place it really right for you, what changes will it need—and are you willing live with construction? Does the software meet your needs right out of the box? What kind customizations will it require? And, can you DIY or will you need to call in contractors.
- Upkeep: What will it cost to keep your new home in good repair? If you have problems with the way your software works, will the remedy require you to pay additional fees?
- Security: How safe does this property feel? Does it offer good deterrents to bad things that could come along? How will your software help you control access to your data? What does it do to prevent data loss? How can you get your data back if you ever decide to move to another system?
- Reputation of Builder: It may be that homes built by a particular builder during a particular time have known features and quirks. Just as you’ll want to check that out, you want to check into the type of experiences others have had with a software vendor.
- Amenities: Do you dream of new appliances, an attached garage, a gym on the premises, or a community pool? Should your software make data sharing seamless by integration with other applications you use.
With all of this information in mind, no “home” or database is going to be the perfect fit forever – there are always compromises to be made. If you are looking for a software “realtor,” someone to help you clarify your criteria and guide you to the best software to house your organization’s data contact CCTS for a consultation.
Gather your team and determine your criteria for the various considerations listed above. Your company may be in its nascent stage, going through a re-organization or experiencing other big changes, and you may not know where to start in answering these questions. For help making your software decisions, contact me for a consultation! firstname.lastname@example.org