THE public might look at your charity’s website, social media and marketing and see something modern and user-friendly.
But behind the scenes, the team using the organisation’s software and IT could well be grappling with systems that are much less impressive.
A webinar held by iplicit heard practical advice on how to go about a digital transformation that not only improves your efficiency but brings together data to give you new insights. Keith Collins, Principal Consultant at Adapta Consulting, set out four key steps on the journey.
Step 1: Remember who you are thinking about
“That first step is to remember that everything digital, first and foremost, should be viewed through an external lens,” Keith told iplicit’s webinar.
“Who is it that you are serving? Who is it that raises funds for you? Who is it that benefits from your services? Who is it that’s participating in your activities?”
He advocates writing a persona document, showing the interests and motivation of a typical supporter, along with the “journey” they take when they interact with the charity.
A lot of data will have been created in different places, often outside core business systems. Digital transformation involves joining much of that information to generate new insights – for example, bringing together finance and customer relations management (CRM) data.
Step 2: Think about why you are doing this
“Working out how any particular digital project – whether it’s a new website, a new finance system, a new learning management system – is going to contribute to your strategic objectives is absolutely vital,” said Keith.
To know where to start, it’s important to identify strategic objectives and weigh any digital project against those objectives.
It can be helpful to plot digital projects on a graph. One axis represents a project’s benefits – its contribution to strategic objectives, efficiency or income. The other axis measures risk, cost and complexity. A project that scores highly for benefits and low for risk will be the one to do first.
Step 3: What have you got at the moment?
Keith says it’s common for ‘front end’ technology used by a charity’s supporters to be in better shape than its internal systems.
“The digital tools – the websites, the portals, the digital marketing tools – were often introduced more recently and are solutions built with more modern processes and the customer in mind, much more engaging for people to use.
“The back-end data and digital business systems might be somewhat more ramshackle,” he says.
This step can involve saying: “The digital tech tools we have at the moment might not be fit for purpose. We may need to do some building work.”
Step 4: Think about digital from every angle
This is the process of considering digital from every perspective, including those of customers and employees, before executing the project.
Generally, it’s important to have an “outside-in” mindset, reflecting on how the customer will be affected – but Keith says there are key exceptions.
“Although we would say that thinking about a digital transformation project from an external perspective is absolutely integral to it, there will be digital projects that need to be thought about more from an internal business perspective,” he says.
“Finance systems in particular are the kind of tools that do require an internal business process compliance mindset.”
Finance often comes first
When Adapta comes up with a three-year road map for clients, the finance system is often high up the agenda.
“It’s usually systems like finance system projects, or maximising the use of office productivity suites, that are identified as projects they can get to grips with more quickly and get benefit from,” Keith adds.
For more information, watch the full iplicit webinar on Digital Transformation for Non-Profits.