Many nonprofits are quick to upgrade software because it is perceived as being simple and straightforward – and sometimes that is true. However, that does not mean that it is in the best interest of the organization.
In some cases, it may make more sense for your nonprofit to reimplement a software system rather than upgrade to the most recent version. This is true of almost every type of software package, but especially enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, like the financial management and accounting systems that AVF Consulting specializes in.
For these sometimes complex systems, your nonprofit needs to consider the impact of shifting demands and evolving technologies.
Here are a few situations that may push your organization to reimplement its software system:
Hard to Justify Past Customizations
When systems are first implemented, many nonprofits look for the “perfect” system that fulfills every need and provides every potential time-saving feature. However, over time, it becomes apparent that closing those “gaps” may not be worth the time and effort necessary to implement and maintain those customizations. Moreover, many of those customizations were either requested by previous management and/or have become completely meaningless as related to current business needs.
Time to Let Go
By electing to proceed with a reimplementation rather than an upgrade, nonprofits are able to leave behind outdated data as well as providing an opportunity to redesign key setups (e.g. a new chart of accounts) that will allow the new system to better track the nonprofit’s current business model.
Lapse in Maintenance
For whatever reason, nonprofits sometime fail to keep up with their software maintenance. When that happens, it becomes significantly more expensive to upgrade as the nonprofit will be required to not only pay for the upgrade, but the entire backlog of unpaid maintenance as well.
Failed to Conduct Past Upgrades
In many software spaces, but especially in the ERP space, upgrade toolkits are specifically designed to upgrade only from the prior version. As a result, a nonprofit may be required to upgrade multiple times before reaching the latest version. And every time an organization upgrades, it is exposing its system and its data to a unique environment and conversion process. This not only adds expense, but also adds risk.
Need a Health Checkup
In conducting a reimplementation approach, a nonprofit would undergo a detailed requirements assessment, focus on current business needs, and allow the organization to leverage as much of the new native functionality as possible. This process not only creates a leaner and more efficient system, but also positions the organization to avoid a similar situation in the future by ensuring it can more easily take advantage of future upgrades.
The preceding is a guest post by Andrew Fass, CEO and founder of AVF Consulting, Inc., which partners with nonprofit organizations, associations and NGOs to implement and support financial management and accounting software systems specifically designed for the requirements and demands of the not-for-profit industry. Specializing in Serenic Navigator software, AVF is a Microsoft certified partner that has been providing accounting, HR and payroll solutions since 1986. Clients include American Psychological Association, ASCD, American Urological Association, SCO Family of Services, Philadelphia Zoo, and more. For more information, please visit: www.avfconsulting.com or contact the author at Andrew.Fass@avfconsulting.com.