From time to time, nonprofits with human and social service missions need to upgrade or completely overhaul their client management systems, also commonly known as a case management system or nonprofit database management system. Due diligence and careful evaluation are prerequisites to ensure the selected system is appropriate for the case management needs of the organization and gives significant ROI.
For effective and meaningful system evaluation, the user organization needs to know the features and specifications to focus on. Using a software expert's services to help choose your nonprofit management software is a viable option. However, if an organization opts not to hire one, the ten essential questions they should ask are discussed below.
What's the User Friendliness Score?
When evaluating the suitability of client management software, it is vital to remember that the end users are mostly not software experts. Therefore, ensuring that the end user interface is simple and user-friendly would be imperative. Difficult-to-use software can lead to users' frustration and, consequently, cause delays in task accomplishment.
Remember, the ease of working with software is crucial to how well your team performs its tasks. That underlines the impact of software user comfort is critical for achieving your organization's goals and objectives.
How Secure is the System?
Cybersecurity is a priority for any safety-conscious software user. Software security is a crucial consideration that must not be overlooked, mainly due to the increased risk of cyberattacks on nonprofits. The heightened cyberattacks have been partly exacerbated by using client management systems with weak or non-existent security features.
A 2018 State of Nonprofit Cybersecurity Report revealed that only a paltry 20.5% of nonprofit organizations had put in place policies and procedures that can be actioned in case of a cyberattack. A proactive way to address cybersecurity issues is to adopt an internal policy that requires a thorough examination of CRM or ERP software security before and after acquisition.
Good software must guarantee user privacy, data security, and access control by ensuring only authorized users can securely log in and handle confidential and sensitive information.
Is the Software Accessible from Multiple Locations?
There is a raging debate on the question of on-premise vs. cloud-based software. On-premise software is rigid in that they're only accessible from an organization's servers or computers. On the other hand, cloud-based software is flexible regarding accessibility, allowing users to log on remotely without necessarily being within the organization's premises. All they need is access to the internet and user credentials.
In this era of remote work, cloud-based client management software is preferable, especially for nonprofits with fieldwork officers who need to access the systems from the field. Remote access to the system ensures continuity of work whether the staff is in or outside their workstations.
What's the cost-benefit Score?
Like any other investment, software acquisition and maintenance costs must not outweigh the software's potential benefits. Nonprofit organizations may have varying needs, which may necessitate adopting different types of software at varying costs.
Whether it's about settling for the right human services software, social work management system, or client management software, the organization must ensure the benefits vs. cost trade-off favors the set goals and objectives.
- What's the Software Ease of Configuration?
As the organization's strategic goals evolve, it might need to continuously adjust the set-up features and settings of the software to align its functionality to the organization's needs. Some modern software comes with great configuration features, such as automatic data updates that simplify data-related configurations.
Configuration is a relatively straightforward process compared to customization because it doesn't require changes to the core application. It only involves changing the software set-up to make the software more suitable for the organization's needs without writing new code.
- Is it customizable or configurable?
There is much to consider on this topic, so we recommend reading more about how and why organizations are choosing configurable software vs. customizable solutions.
Does the Software Offer In-Built Data Backup?
In the course of operations, nonprofits gather a lot of data that is stored in internal or cloud-based servers. One of the worst experiences in tech is losing valuable data, more so in large volumes.
Some software solutions, especially cloud-based ones, come with in-built backup features that form part of their service offering and are worth considering.
Does the Vendor Have Comprehensible User Manuals?
Some client management software may be complex even in the long run. That necessitates clear, easy-to-read user manuals to help users navigate challenges that may arise while handling the software.
Are there Adequate Features for User Level Rights Control?
The ability to control user rights to access information in the software is crucial to reducing the risk of unauthorized user access. The software should also guarantee adequate permissions to enable users to perform their tasks effectively.
How are the Vendor's Reputation and Rating?
A vendor's reliability and service level rating are crucial because it determines the overall customer experience you expect from them. It's recommended to check their reputation and rating in the industry as that is the fool-proof way to determine their competence and legitimacy to handle your software needs competently.
A highly rated and reputable vendor is recommendable because they guarantee better services if other people's experience is something to go by.
There are many questions to ask when evaluating the suitability of nonprofit client management systems. They may vary with your organization's specific needs and may not necessarily be restricted to what we have discussed above. Ultimately, what you need to ask depends on what you want in software as an organization.
At Casebook, we offer cloud-based software for human services organizations such as nonprofits. We have a range of flexibly priced software products and solutions that can be configured or customized to suit your organization's specific needs.