Whilst every business or enterprise usually has the CFO watching over their shoulder as they source suppliers, this applies to the charity sector even more so. With all your income generated through contributions and donations, there is a responsibility in channelling how the funds are spent. As a charity looking for a custom software supplier, there are certain questions that you should ask to ensure that you are getting the most for your money.
Has the supplier worked with other charities?
Working within the charity sector there are certain values and goals that are widely shared that may not be shared within the private sector. Working with a company who understands this and has proven experience of working within the charity sector is a great start.
Having a supplier who understands and shares your values is key to a great relationship. Trusting that your supplier is working for the greater good of your company, enabling you to become more efficient by implementing timesaving systems and cost-effective solutions, both on time and on budget, will enable your project to go from strength to strength.
How trustworthy is the supplier?
A relationship gone sour is an awful and awkward situation. Whilst there can be many reasons for breakdowns, doing some research on the reputation and trustworthiness of the supplier may save you many hours of lost time and sunken funds. Who have they worked with previously? What is their average client retention rate? What’s their financial status? How long have they been in business? All fundamentals that will help inform your decision. Hopefully, this supplier will be your partner for many years to come.
What are the technological capabilities offered by the supplier?
What is their tech stack and is it compatible with your own? If your systems are based on old tech, then can this supplier support it? How are they catering for emerging technologies? Knowing that a supplier is always keeping one step ahead with what is emerging, that their team’s expertise is always growing, whilst also steadfastly continuing to provide a quality service in the area and tech they are known for, is a balancing act that a good software company will be continuously practicing.
There are various ways to measure and compare costs and value, including total cost of ownership (TCO), return on investment (ROI) and time to value (TTV).
TCO calculations are done over a period of time, typically three or five years, and should include staff time, training and consulting costs and other relevant factors as well as the costs of the software licences and any associated hardware.
ROI: Can be looked at in three ways, the amount it reduces costs by, the amount it improves results (timesaving) and amount it reduces risks (efficiency).
TTV: How quickly will your software start providing a return on your investment? This is a calculation based on how long it will take to implement the software and get staff trained on how to use it.
Will the supplier provide good support, and are they easy to communicate with?
This is a major factor. You are entering into a partnership: both support in a technical sense and good communications in general are relevant. In particular, service level agreements (SLAs) are significant: is telephone support available at the times you need it? Is there online help? How responsive is the supplier And bear in mind that increased levels of SLA affect TCO.
Training is also relevant here. How is this provided? In-person? Online?
Make sure you check all of these considerations from past references.
If you are a charity looking for a new custom software supplier, then contact us or make an appointment. We’ve a wealth of experience within the charity sector and are happy to chat through your issues and find solutions.