Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raiser's Edge NXT: My Initial Thoughts (Part 1)

Running into the Future 
Last week, Blackbaud announced their roadmap and upgrade path for The Raiser's Edge v7: Raiser's Edge NXT. My post here summarises what this means to existing RE7 users and potential NXT users. I've split it into two parts: first the facts and second what I think the implications are for RE users 1.

First, just the facts ma'am
So what do we know about NXT:

  • Raiser's Edge NXT (oh, and that's pronounced En Ex Tee - not next or n'xt- although I'm not sure how long that will last…) is a cloud only solution. No more on-premise software.
  • All clients will have unlimited users and instead the cost will be subscription based pricing (exact pricing TBC).
  • It will be device independent and run on desktops, tablets and mobile devices, the interface being a responsive design.
  • The whole user experience (UX) is very different from RE7 and is "tile-based" rather than tab-based, which can be setup differently for different users (c.f. Roles below) and the tiles can even be moved around easily. (You can see several example screenshots on Blackbaud's website, such as
  • The fundamental UX is designed so that it is more focused on different user Roles; e.g. a view for a fundraising manager, one for prospect researchers, another for alumni relationship officers etc. This means that each such role will have a different view of data and records oriented to how those people work.
  • It will support the REST API architecture. And, as it says on Blackbaud's website: "Raiser’s Edge NXT will ultimately have an Open API".
  • There is a new approach to list building which is oriented towards users who don't need to know something as sophisticated as the current RE:Query tool (and is more akin to filters found in other contemporary/cloud CRM systems).
  • And there are some other nice new features and functions too such as better dashboards and summaries, a work centre, a constituent "timeline" which shows interactions/mailings etc for a constituent in a 'graphical' view - and I expect many more.
  • Upgrades/enhancements will be automatically rolled out when they become available, a la any similar Cloud solution. (i.e. no more going round all your PCs with a CD!)
And the planned release date is middle 2015. But: in the first instance, NXT will not have 100% of RE7 functionality. Instead, more functionality will be added over time. That will mean the first organisations using NXT will also need to carry on using RE7 for some of their staff/requirements. (c.f. Data Conversion below). In practise, the initial launch will provide the NXT interface for users more involved with one-to-one type fundraising (major donors, trusts, prospect researchers etc) but much of the central operational functionality of Raiser's Edge will remain in RE7 (e.g. direct debit claims, exports, database admin).

And for existing RE7 users there will be no data conversion process…

So how will current RE7 users 'convert' to NXT?
Although there is no 'formal' data conversion process, it is perhaps better thought of as an "invisible" conversion (or 'behind the scenes'). It will work like this:
  • First, if you are a RE7 user who wants to upgrade to NXT then Blackbaud will move you to their hosting platform (if you're not already on it).
  • That platform will then provide you with full access to RE7 (as per their current hosting option) but also present NXT access. But the data will synch between the two versions so that all users are of course accessing the same data. All this will be done automatically by Blackbaud's systems.
  • Thus we can see that data from RE7 will start to be migrated to NXT and as Blackbaud bring on more functionality to NXT so more data will move across to that.
You can read my thoughts on the implications of that in the second part of this post.

And don't forget Blackbaud CRM and eTapestry

If you are an existing RE7 user then you should also remember that NXT will be just one option for an upgrade path. For larger organisations, Blackbaud CRM could be more appropriate, or for smaller organisations you could even consider eTapestry. Talk to your Blackbaud account manager for more information (as the PR might say…!)

So what does all this really mean to Raiser's Edge v7 users? How good is RE NXT?
I will address that in my next blog, later this week.

1: This information has been gathered from Blackbaud's own website and from Blackbaud's announcement of NXT at their US conference last week.

1 comment:

Bonny said...

I know this is an old post, but we are looking into investing in NXT. This post has been very informative and helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.