When doing an initial evaluation of possible nonprofit financial software solutions, it is important to spend time in discovery talking to potential vendors to not only discuss your organization's specific requirements, but also to ask questions and learn about the product they are offering so you can determine whether it might be the right solution for your organization.
We spend a lot of time with prospects during discovery and thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the questions we often get that are useful in determining software fit.
What are the differences between cloud vs on premise?
It seems like everything is moving to the cloud these days and financial software is no exception but before jumping in there are critical aspects of both on premise and cloud that you need to fully understand to see which deployment option is the best fit for your organization.
What will nonprofit accounting give me that I can’t get from QuickBooks?
If you've outgrown your software and are ready to move to the next level, it will be helpful for you to know exactly what advantages and functionality will be gained (or lost) by making the switch.
Will this software grow with my organization?
No organization is stagnant. They are always evolving and changing. You want to be sure any solution you select with be able to grow and adapt with your organization.
Can people have access to reporting without giving them access to everything?
While there may be staff members who are involved in all aspects of your financial processes, there are most likely others who need only limited access. From both a financial and security perspective, you want to be able to limit user accessibility when needed.
Can I afford this software?
A product that is a great fit but out of your budget won't solve anything. You need to understand the cost of the software and implementation services so you can determine feasibility of the purchase. But, don't be deterred by price alone. There are often options available such as lease financing or phased implementation that can help spread out payments and make something previously unattainable fit nicely into your budget. Also, there are now more opportunities available to subscribe to a software via a monthly payment rather than a full purchase requiring a large up-front cost. The pro's and con's of both options need to be weighed.
What is included in professional services?
There are many components related to implementing a new software successfully. It is important to ask detailed questions about the services provided so that you know what is and is not included with your purchase.
Will you be able help me with bringing my accounting information over from my current system?
When you make a move to a new software, there is often historical information that you will need to access and bring forward into the new system. It is always good to talk about converting your old data into the new system and to understand how this process will be accomplished. This is a great window of opportunity to have a system setup to track and report in a way that works for your organization while also purging old information that may no longer be relevant.
I use Excel for financial reporting. Will the new software allow me to create financial reports?
Reporting is one of the most critical areas in financial software. If you are transitioning from an excel based reporting process to a more sophisticated financial software, you will need to understand what reports are included in the new software and how difficult it will be to create new ones moving forward. You will also want to talk about more complex reporting requirements and make sure the new software will be able to meet the full range of your reporting needs.
What kind of training do you provide?
Another crucial aspect to a successful software implementation is the training services that will teach you what you need to know to be successful with the new software. You'll want to ask the vendor what type of training they can provide not only for the initial implementation but down the road as well.
Each organization will bring their own unique set of questions to the conversation as well but the ones listed above give you a place to start. Good luck with your evaluation!
Soft Trac is a woman-owned business and accomplished team of nonprofit software consultants. We believe in making nonprofits "do good" better. For more information on any of the topics discussed in this blog or to learn more about the software products and services we offer, please CONTACT Soft Trac.