Thursday, November 25, 2010

Top 50 Database Procurement Tips for Charities and Not-for-Profit Organisations

I have been tweeting my Database Procurement Tips for charities and not-for-profits over the last few months, for all sorts of databases from  fundraising and membership databases, CRM systems, or a bespoke development. So here is a collation of my first 50. Note they are not in any order of importance; the numbers simply (hopefully!) make the list more readable.

I will be tweeting more tips in the week and months to come so if you want to see them then follow me on Twitter.

I hope they are useful!

1. You must do an internal needs analysis before looking at software
2. Make sure you allow a budget for hardware and IT infrastructure costs
3. Create a business case before looking at software
4. Ask the suppliers to bring a support/implementation staff member to the demo, not just a sales person
5. If you create an ITT, don’t just ask yes/no questions, but get the suppliers to give fuller answers to some questions
6. When comparing costs, use a Total Cost of Ownership cost model: i.e. not just the software but all costs
6a. When comparing TCO, do it over 5 years, not just the initial procurement costs
7. At the demo, ask the supplier what weaknesses their software has…
8. Get your users involved in the needs analysis stage and keep up the communication
9. At the demo, try phoning the supplier’s help desk live and see what sort of response they give!
10. Ask for costs in a structured way on your ITT/RFP so that you can compare them more easily

11. Remember that the software is just an enabler – find out how aware the supplier is about understanding your business
12. At the demo, ask the supplier what their software can’t do. Could get some interesting answers…
13. Don’t cram too many supplier demos in one day – it’ll kill you and you simply won’t get the same benefit from them
14. Ask the supplier what they think the key risks are for your project
15. At the demo, ask all suppliers to show you the same things, so you can compare more easily
16. At the demo, make sure you see how you could create reports, do queries, create mailings – get data out of the system
17. If you create an ITT, incorporate it into your contract with the supplier
18. Ask the supplier what experience they have of fundraising, or what they believe the latest fundraising trends are
19. Never under-estimate the costs and complexity of synchronising data across multiple databases
20. Ask to see the suppliers’ roadmap for future developments. If they haven’t got one…

21. Be careful when suppliers talk about Workflow – it can mean different things to different men
22. At the demo, ask the supplier for a reference who used to be unhappy with them but who is now a happy client
23. Ask whether you can segment the database on any and all fields you have in the database, including user-defined fields
24. Consider how to integrate the database with your web site. This can be one of the most costly and time-consuming elements
25. Find out how flexible the system is for importing data from different sources
26. Ask for system requirements and performance figures for at least twice your expected record numbers
27. Don’t under-estimate the time and effort needed for data migration
28. Find out from the supplier exactly how they will help with data migration & what their experience is
29. Purchase time is the best time to get discounts, so if you expect to increase your licenses later, bargain now!
30. Check whether future upgrades are included in your annual maintenance costs

31. Don’t skimp on training costs
32. Ask the supplier for their project management approach, but don’t rely solely on the supplier for this
33. Ask the suppliers how they provide bug fixes
34. Ask the suppliers how they train their own staff
35. Ask the suppliers how they manage Quality Assurance within their organisation
36. Consider the cost of decommissioning your existing database
37. Remember to include the cost of third party apps in your budget, e.g. PAF software, banking sw
38. Don’t expect your data to magically be cleaner or more accurate just by buying a new database
39. Ask the suppliers for their experience, input and recommendations of change management and your new db
40. Consider the option of asking 2-3 short-listed suppliers to prototype a specific element of your requirements

41. Never base a procurement decision on just software, just costs, just the salesperson…
42. Consider visiting a supplier’s offices before you make a final decision
43. Ideally, talk to a number of the supplier’s references, not just one or two
44. Ask the supplier if you can attend one of their user groups before you actually buy the software
45. Ask the suppliers how they recommend you create and structure your implementation project team
46. Ask the suppliers directly what costs are not included in their quote
47. Ask the suppliers why they have lost customers in the past
48. Ask the suppliers how many new clients they have added each year for the past 5 years
49. Don’t expect the supplier to provide a fixed price on data migration until they have seen your data
50. Ensure you have your fundraising/membership strategy in place before buying a new database

Thanks for reading. If you found these tips useful, then you can get more in-depth advice on this area in my eBook. Click on the image below to see more information on that.

My eBook: How to Buy Fundraising Software


Graham Hewitt said...

Ivan, this is a great source of advice. I have followed this stream of tweets with great interest. I am delighted they are now accessible in one place.

Philip G said...

VAR went through this process two years ago. We ended up buying a basic Access model and developing it over two years to grow into. The nice thing is, we own it and can do what we like without incurring fees.