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We spend a lot of time thinking about how technology impacts and benefits the social impact sector. Specifically about ways to reduce complexity and do more with less. And so do you.
How do we know it’s on your mind right now? Because in September 2019 we asked 50 Nonprofits, Human Services Organizations, K-12 & Educational Institutions and public sector organizations about their current back office technology.
The results of that report – Are You Doing Enough? The Role of Enterprise Technology in Social Impact Organizations – show that tech remains a struggle for many orgs. Half aren’t keeping up with new tech, and 57% say they don’t meet employees’ expectations for available and necessary tech.
You can’t afford to be left behind like that: your community relies on you for their day-to-day needs. And before you can support those evolving needs, you go out to learn what they are. Learning the ways digital transformation affects what services you can provide, and how, is another crucial step in that understanding.
So what did we find are the primary challenges the social impact sector is facing, and ways to overcome those challenges and stay on mission? Here’s a quick breakdown of our key findings and recommendations from the Are You Doing Enough? report:
Two-thirds of organizations told us that silos between departments prevent good communication, and it’s their biggest stumbling block. That’s exacerbated by an equal number of orgs still using time-consuming, error-prone paper processes in Finance and HR. More than half of those respondents also told us their tech solutions aren’t user friendly, leaving staff struggling with day-to-day tasks.
Modern tech is interwoven through every department and process in most orgs. So what’s holding people back from upgrading and embracing new, cost-effective opportunities? Lack of money tops the list, according to three quarters of respondents. Though lack of time and expertise aren’t far behind in holding social impact orgs back.
A mere one in three organizational leaders told us they had an Enterprise Resource Planning Solution (ERP) in place. Those who had ERPs consistently reported better working conditions. Only a quarter of those without ERPs reported user-friendly systems. While those with ERPs had an 80% rate of eliminating duplicated data, 75% reductions in manual processes, and a 70% reduction in siloing between departments.
If you don’t know where you are now, you can’t figure out your next steps. So start by asking: what tech do you currently use? How effective is it? And don’t just look at software – take into account the vast number of shadow spreadsheets and workarounds you’re using to manage data outside your system.
Lack of good communication is a major issue for most orgs, and lack of crossover between Finance and HR is a disaster waiting to happen. Find processes and solutions that break down those walls to bring your departments together to solve problems.
Other organizations have dealt with the same challenges you’re facing now. How did they overcome them? Make the most of your connections and talk to other orgs. And answer other organizations’ questions in turn. Because sharing data, experiences, and solutions benefits everyone across the social impact sector.
Technology is the beating heart of most current organizational processes. And even if you can’t change solutions right now, you need to plan for the future by knowing what’s available and designed specifically to solve your problems. Understand your options so that when you’re ready to adopt new solutions, you’ve already paved the way to make those changes.
Change can be hard. But it doesn’t have to hurt. If you’re investing in the right tools and expertise, digital transformation can go smoothly. Want to get a jump on building a roadmap for your own digital transformation? Download our full digital transformation report today, and start planning how to better your community’s future.