The challenge

For many small organizations—especially those in the charity and not-for-profit sectors—bringing on a consultant to support a critical initiative can seem like an extravagance. However, an experienced advisor can help right-size a project, using their knowledge and skills to help their clients get what they actually need, all while bringing expertise and capacity that the organization may not have. 

Our client—a not-for-profit organization—recognized they would benefit from having an end-to-end technology strategy to help guide the future of the organization. Key people across the organization identified processes that were inefficient and slowed employees’ productivity. The inefficiencies of these processes largely resided with the systems they were using, leading to significant manual intervention. 

The organization wanted to automate their processes to eliminate repetitive and manual tasks. The end goal was to maximize time spent on their mission, while not spending endless hours on manual non-value add, operational tasks. Additionally, they wanted to have greater visibility into templated reports and dashboards to provide real-time customized on performance across the organization.

How we helped

Asking the right questions to determine what our client needed

Analyzing our client’s operations in great detail to identify inefficiencies and opportunities to streamline

Helping the client find a vendor that could supply the right solution and offer support to implement

This project became one of the larger operational efforts the organization had undertaken, and the Executive Director reached out for our input. During the conversation, our Principal raised some critical questions that hadn’t yet been considered and it became clear that the client could benefit from having additional support to understand how to get from where they were to where they needed to be. We set up a meeting with advisors that had significant experience in taking a systems upgrade from scoping to development through to execution, including vendor coordination.  

This project involved a two-fold approach. The first phase involved a deep dive assessment of the current state environment through extensive conversations with both senior management and the end users of the systems. Through this process we were able to understand the organization’s system requirements and existing pain points so that we could work together to find a solution.  Additionally, we looked at some existing processes, quantifying the non-value time associated with these processes. This allowed the organization to clearly see the number of work hours lost by their staff on the use of existing inefficient technology. There was an opportunity to optimize/streamline these processes through introducing new technology and revector resources into higher value activities.  

The second phase of this project involved a vendor solicitation process where we conducted secondary research and used their past experiences with vendors to help build a shortlist of candidates that could best meet their needs and budget. We conducted demos with these vendors, with each demo including a Q&A offering the opportunity to ask the right questions and challenge vendor claims. This helped the client find a vendor that could deliver a solution that truly met their needs. Further, we built out a training plan with the chosen vendor to ensure the new systems would be successfully adopted by the organization and that employees felt they had support throughout the transition process.

The impact

With a limited budget, the organization knew they wouldn’t be able to get everything on their wish list, but with smart choices and a rigorous selection process they were able to find a solution that would ultimately save them resources that could be better deployed on program delivery— eliminating inefficiencies would lead to more ways to support their community. 

Routine check-ins on both the process and the client’s experience with our team have shown that working with trusted advisors has made their entire project more manageable. We were able to help a valued client identify where they could best deploy their limited resources and share our experience in navigating a process that they hadn’t been through before. One of the most valuable lessons gathered from this project is that every organization, no matter their size, deserves the benefit of good advice.

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