This is a broad-but-important question. Nonprofits generally operate within very real resource constraints; functioning well requires streamlining expenditures and maximizing efficiencies.
So how can this be done in IT support?
There are a limitless number of technical considerations that could be deliberated in answer to this question. But instead of attempting to identify the best-value software or hardware for every possible scenario, let’s drill down into three of the most foundational components of nonprofit IT support value: service model, communication quality, and the role of the outsourced team.
1. Nonprofits can gain value by working under the right service model.
At a basic level, nonprofits can maximize efficiencies by working under the right IT support model.
Much of the time, the most efficient model is managed services. These are a set of IT services delivered at a fixed cost each month.
There are rare exceptions where project-based engagements may be more efficient; for instance, a unique data migration project or the opening of a new office may be scenarios where a one-time engagement could make sense.
For any ongoing support, though, managed services tend to be the highest value solution.
Managed IT support is efficient because, unlike break-fix support models, it aligns the incentives of the provider with the incentives of the nonprofit. Break-fix incentivizes providers to spend more time fixing issues; managed services incentivize providers to spend less (and to prevent issues in the first place).
Additionally, managed services allow nonprofits access to strategic expertise at affordable costs. Instead of paying only to fix issues – which can lead to more issues and greater costs in the long run – nonprofits get access to entire IT teams with expertise in every type of technology. This allows for better strategic planning at rates that would’ve been less feasible through other support models.
2. Nonprofits can gain value through good communication.
While the model of service delivery is crucial, nonprofits should also be careful to maximize the value they receive from their IT support partners by ensuring that there is good communication.
Even managed service engagements with top level IT support can be low value if communication is lacking.
Practically, this means that tech support partners must take the time to listen so that they thoroughly understand the needs of the nonprofit. If they don’t, they’ll be pitching solutions that may or may not be the most effective (and valuable).
Good communication also means that there must be trust between the provider and the client so effective dialogue can happen that leads to the best solutions. The client should not be afraid that the provider is either letting the ball drop or only interested in upselling a solution that is inappropriate in the nonprofit context.
The bottom line is that all of the technical expertise in the world is worthless if it’s not applied in a way that’s helpful. Communication is the key to providing expertise in a way that’s helpful – and, ultimately, providing value.
The takeaway: look for a provider that you can communicate with easily and effectively, and for a provider that has made ongoing and proactive communication a core part of their service.
3. Nonprofits can gain value by ensuring internal and outsourced resources are complementary.
Finally, to maximize the value of an IT engagement, nonprofits should ensure that internal and external resources are complementary to each other. This should flow naturally from good communication, but it’s impactful enough to break out separately.
Many nonprofits have existing internal IT resources. They may have a director of IT overseeing strategy or a support technician whose role is to be onsite for small ticket requests.
To maximize the value of an engagement, those existing roles should be clearly defined. Providers are able to deliver the most value when they can supplement existing capabilities and take things to the next level – by providing strategy in areas where internal expertise is lacking, for example, or by offering helpdesk support to free up the IT director’s time for strategic planning.
Role overlap can impede the value of IT support. But the other side of the coin is this: properly defined roles with complementary services can empower support that’d be unattainable through a single solution.
Are you ready to get the most value from your nonprofit IT support?
To maximize the value that you’ll receive from an IT provider, ensure that you’re working under the correct service model, that there is good communication in the relationship, and that the engagement is defined so that support is complementary to internal roles.
Remember, too, that high value is not synonymous to low cost. Yes, nonprofits face budgetary realities that IT support solutions should be designed to accommodate. But the benefits of quality IT support are just as real as their cost considerations.
Put simply, the organizations that have reliable, future-proof systems and responsive support will be able to accomplish their missions more effectively. The value of that can’t be overstated – keep it in mind as you search for ways to maximize your IT service.
If you’re ready to get started with a provider that will help, let’s talk.
At Community IT Innovators, we’ve found that many nonprofit organizations deal with more IT issues than they should have to after settling for low-cost support options they believe will provide them with the right value. As a result, systems are unreliable, responses are too slow, and repairs are too expensive. Sometimes nonprofits don’t even realize how bad things are until something big breaks and their mission is derailed.
Our process is different. We equip our technicians with certifications across all major platforms. We constantly research and evaluate new solutions to ensure that you get cutting-edge solutions that are tailored to the needs of your organization. And we ensure you get the highest value possible by bringing 25 years of expertise in exclusively serving nonprofits to bear in your environment.
If you’re ready for IT support that truly gives your nonprofit organization the most value, get in touch with us today.