Charity

Five Major Benefits of Data Visualisation for Charities and Non-Profits
Five Major Benefits of Data Visualisation for Charities and Non-Profits 1000 667 Jon Hogg

Huge amounts of data are being generated every minute of every day. In fact, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone. When you factor in the global proliferation of internet connected devices, this isn’t surprising. But, how do you extract the value from this data?

Data isn’t worth a great deal unless it can be interrogated, analysed and used for decision-making. And it’s worth even less if people don’t understand it.

Data visualisation, the presentation of information in a graphical or pictorial way, is a great method of making data easy to view and understand. Tools like Microsoft’s Power BI mean this is no longer an incredibly complex task – its quick and easy to set up, and start getting insights from your data.

The five major benefits for charities and non-profits are:

1) Increased transparency with stakeholders

Charities and non-profits must be transparent with donors, supporters, service recipients, and members of the public about how much they are spending on what and why. Presenting this information in a graphical way helps people understand the data quickly and easily.

2) Removing the complexity

People can digest images and graphs more easily than reading through rows and rows of numbers. If you are dealing with large and complex datasets, visualising this data makes it much easier for other people to understand, particularly if they are not subject matter experts.

3) Deeper insight

Data visualisation makes large and complex datasets easy to read. This means that you can identify trends, anomalies, and insights with ease. Comprehensive data visualization tools will enable you to drill down deeper into specific data segments as well. This allows you to glean more insight from your data and identify areas that need further interrogation.

4) Improved internal communication

No matter how hard you try to avoid silos, they often exist within organisations, especially those with several large departments. Sharing insights and information in a graphical way can be a great way of informing other departments what’s happening in the organisation. These can be presented as dashboards on intranets or internal applications, enabling self-service, and saving you even more time.

5) Improved organisational performance

When you are actively using insights from your data, you will be making better strategic decisions, thus improving the perception and performance of your organization, both with potential donators and volunteers, and your current team.

As a non-profit, you’re highly likely to be collecting your own data, whether it’s as simple as user behaviour on your website using Google Analytics, or more detailed information on how stakeholders are interacting with your applications or services. Are you confident that everyone within the organisation can understand the information? Is it being used to inform decision-making to improve the effectiveness of your organisation? If the answer to these questions is no, then talk to us today to see how data visualization could benefit you.

If you’re interested in a great visualisation on just how much data is generated every minute, then take a look at this infographic

Why Not-For-Profits Need to Ensure Applications are Cross-Platform
Why Not-For-Profits Need to Ensure Applications are Cross-Platform 1000 667 Jon Hogg

It takes considerable resource to build, test and launch an application – people, time and money. Most not-for-profits don’t have these resources in abundance. So if you’re going to build an application, why wouldn’t you launch an application that works across all devices and platforms; and even works when there is no internet access?

Keep your users happy and engaged

It’s a no-brainer. But you would be surprised how many applications are launched that give a poor user experience on one platform, but an amazing one on another. To reach your entire audience you need to ensure your application gives a consistent user experience regardless of whether it’s an Android, i-Phone or a Windows device. That’s what we mean when we talk about cross-platform.

As a charity or public-sector organisation, you will want your application to engage in a meaningful way with your target audience regardless of the device they are using. You need to be clear on the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘who’ and ‘when’ of your application before any coding begins. A good development company will work with you to scope this out.

Offline connectivity

A really thorough development company will use technology that ensures your application not only works across platforms, but also works when users are ‘occasionally connected’. This means they may not be online 100{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of the time. For example you may have a staff member or volunteer using the application in an area where there is no internet connection. Ensuring your application has offline and online functionality means no data will be lost when the application is used without connectivity, as the data can be synced later when the user has internet access.

To generate maximum return on your IT investment and to ensure you are giving your target audience a seamless user-experience, you need to ensure your application is truly cross-platform.

You can read about a recent cross-platform application we developed for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Or, if you’re ready to see how a cross-platform app could benefit your organisation, talk to us today.

Salesforce Integration: how to integrate Salesforce with other applications
Salesforce Integration: how to integrate Salesforce with other applications 150 150 dan.macduff

Salesforce Integration: how to integrate Salesforce with other applications

With many organisations adopting cloud CRM systems, how do you ensure that all of your business applications ‘talk’? In this case study, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity were looking to integrate their custom Salesforce solution with an existing bespoke casework management application. The project enables staff to work from one central system without re-keying or duplicating data.

Learn how to connect disparate apps and streamline data between systems

Watch the presentation to discover:

  • Top tips for implementing successful software integration
  • The benefits of application integration
  • How to overcome the challenges of system integration

This presentation was filmed at The Charity Technology Conference 2016. To register for future Software Solved events or webinars email marketing@softwaresolved.com or call 020 7127 4558 for further information.

To discuss your integration requirements with a Data Solved expert, get in touch with us today.

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference
Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference 150 150 Jon Hogg

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference

On Friday 12th May Software Solved will be exhibiting, and speaking, at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference at the America Square Conference Centre in London. The conference is an opportunity for people in the charity sector to see the ways in which technology can transform their fundraising efforts. We are extremely excited to sponsor this conference, and for our Managing Director Anthony Peake, to be speaking.

The importance of digital strategy & transformation

A robust digital strategy has the potential to transform the way the charity sector works – including the ways in which they raise funds. From working with our charity partners we know that tight budgets mean that any digital projects have to really be worth it. That’s exactly why we’re so excited about digital transformation. Done well, with a software partner who understands your organisation, the results can be dramatic.

Digital transformation is more than just technology

A thorough digital strategy will encompass all aspects of your organisation. From people and processes, through to data and, yes, technology. This transformation process should involve your users and your people at every stage of the process to make sure you are continually refining and redefining the final outcome. Not only will this make the final result more effective, but you’ll have excited and inspired your users too.

System integration is key

A lack of system integration can cause all sorts of problems, prime amongst them is that the quality of your data is inevitably compromised through repeated manual entry. Besides this, it also makes processes a lot more drawn out and unnecessarily complex for you and your users. Ultimately, a high level of system integration will help to eliminate inefficiency and duplication from your workflows.

Visualise the bigger data picture

With only one year left until GDPR the onus is on organisations, charities especially, to link up, clean up and look after their data better. This doesn’t mean locking it away so no one can see it and make use of it though. Gaining meaningful insights from your data is central to any digital strategy – after all, most charities rely on it for some form of fundraising at the very least. Effective data visualisation has the power give you the right information at the right time and in the right format.

We’ll be at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference this week talking to charities about their digital strategies. If you want more insights on digital transformation in the charity sector, come and see us, or even better, go to the seminar Anthony will be speaking at. It starts at 12:50pm – don’t be late!

If you won’t be at the conference but you’d still like to find out more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

Alternatively, you can download our white paper on digital transformation in the charity sector here.

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference
Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference 150 150 Jon Hogg

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference

This Thursday the 27th of April Software Solved will be at the Engaging Digital Comms conference at the Museum of London. The conference is a chance for people in the charity and public sector to gain some new insights from the industry about the ways in which digital can transform their communications and wider strategies. We are delighted to be a sponsor of the event, helping charities and the public sector transform the way they work through digital transformation.

Digital strategy & transformation in the charity and public sector

We’re passionate about digital transformation, especially in the charity and public sector where tight budgets mean extracting maximum value from resources is key. A comprehensive digital strategy covers several areas – that’s why we call it transformation. We’ll take a look at these areas now.

System Integration

Many of the charities and public sector organisations we work with have a variety of different systems, built at different times and updated at different rates. This can lead to all sorts of issues, making processes far more complicated than they need to be – costing organisations valuable time and money. Getting your systems to talk, or system integration, makes processes simpler, smoother and more efficient. If your organisation has unwieldy spreadsheets used to transfer data from one system to another, system integration is ideal for you.

Data visualisation

We know from working with our clients that their data is central to the way they work, especially when it comes to things like fundraising and engaging stakeholders. Most organisations have no shortage of data, but getting a handle on it and being able to use it effectively can be a problem. Centralising, and effectively visualising data can lead to more accurate and more efficient decisions.

Mobile and remote working

Part of an effective digital strategy is engaging your users. Whether this is to drive fundraising, raise awareness, or allow your staff to work better will be down to how your organisation works. The link between them is that all of them can be achieved through the use of mobile apps and remote working. Giving your users, stakeholders or staff access to their systems, in a way that is intuitive and easy to use, no matter where they are in the world will immediately make them more productive and increase their engagement.

User journeys

Transforming user journeys is all about making websites, portals and systems intuitive and easy to use. It’s critical to make sure that information is easy to find i.e. it’s where people think it should be. User experience (UX) is a buzzword in the industry right now, and so it should be. But improving user journeys doesn’t necessarily mean a complete system overhaul, a few clever tweaks here and there can make all the difference.

Everybody would like to work more efficiently, with better tools, and digital transformation facilitates this. If you’re at the Engaging Digital Comms conference this week, come and see us to talk about your digital strategy.

If not, but you’d still like to know more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

The progress of digital transformation within the charity sector
The progress of digital transformation within the charity sector 150 150 Graham Douglas

In our report ‘Good Technology’, over three quarters of the IT leaders we spoke with, said that technology is underutilised in charities due to a lack of skills and limited budgets.

We appreciate that digital transformation can seem like a daunting task, especially as charities already face pressures to maintain and update systems. However, despite barriers and tougher regulation, many charities are already ‘doing’ digital and are working hard to bring their data and systems together and improve user experience.

This shift and move towards digital transformation, results in organisations that are more efficient, flexible and provide a better service. We looked at what steps charities are already taking to implement technology.

Five key ways charities are implementing technology today

  1. Mobile in charities – working anywhere, anytime

With the majority of charities having a large workforce based in the field, working remotely is at the top of the list. Many charities have already put remote technology in place and nearly all the remainder we spoke to had plans to implement it.

  1. Cloud adoption in the charity sector

Moving to the Azure cloud hosting can save at least 56{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} in hosting costs and can support the agility and cost saving that charities are looking for. Adopting a cloud-based CRM can be cost-effective and flexible, freeing up much needed budgets and resource.

  1. System integration

With multiple systems all running at the same time, integration has become a common challenge amongst charities. Embracing digital transformation not only involves digitalising processes, it brings all those data sets together for one seamless working system. However, with only 11{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of the charities we surveyed having initiatives underway, it is clearly early days for integration and skill gaps are preventing charities from fully embracing it.

  1. Making data work

Data is of the upmost importance to charities and is the building blocks for marketing, fundraising and grant-giving efforts. Charities want to get more from their data as well as improve transparency and integration. By visualising this data, charities can make informed decisions by providing meaningful insights and easily identifiable patterns.

  1. Improving user experience

A major part of digital transformation is ensuring the best possible user experience. With new systems, organisations often adopt a ‘design-first’ approach to development to ensure users can find information and perform actions easily. Charities are increasingly looking to re-design existing systems to bring them in line with current user expectations. The underlying functionality is sound, so with a few improvements to usability and design, systems are easier to use and cost-effectively enhanced.

It is clear from the report findings, that despite the challenges charities face in adopting technology, the sector clearly recognises that technology can help move charities forward with digital transformation, and create a more efficient way of working.

Discover more about the challenges, benefits and the way charities are implementing technology by downloading the full report: Good Technology? How the charity sector is looking to exploit the potential of digital transformation.

Barriers charities face in pursuit of digital transformation
Barriers charities face in pursuit of digital transformation 150 150 Kindy Mann

Digital transformation carries huge potential to revolutionise the way charities work. Charities that have been running for a number of years are likely to have multiple systems in place, which can often cause operational inefficiencies and costs to rise.

Despite advances in areas such as mobile and cloud the potential for technology usage within the charity sector is remaining largely untapped. Digital transformation can make technology more accessible, reducing inefficiencies and improving user experience.

Software Solved engaged with charity IT leaders to understand what was preventing them from adopting technology and what their plans and priorities were for the coming months. You can download the report here.

Three top charity IT challenges

There were three main barriers which arose that were preventing charities implementing technology as part of their working processes, these were:

  • Lack of in-house IT skills – specifically around integration and data
  • Budget constraints – the perception that transformation is costly
  • Data integration and management – understanding of the best tools

It is clear that charities have a desire to transform their systems, with many already making great progress in mobile and cloud technology. But putting a complete digital transformation plan into action is proving problematic.

For further guidance on overcoming these barriers in line with budget and requirements, download our report ‘Good Technology’ today.

What is a ‘Digital Transformation?’
What is a ‘Digital Transformation?’ 150 150 Graham Douglas

The tech sector is abundant with buzzwords that can leave you wondering what they mean to your business. One that you shouldn’t ignore is digital transformation, but what is it?

Digital transformation is not a new thing. And it’s not about just digitalising your systems either, it is a strategic and planned organisational change. It is about realising user expectations and making simple, speedy, and intuitive systems the norm. Digital transformation involves taking a holistic view of all your systems, processes, workflows and data to truly optimise your operations.

Digital transformation is more than just new technology

In a culture where innovation is becoming more and more fearless, think Amazon and Airbnb; companies are constantly striving to innovate new tech solutions, to make the user experience better and easier than ever before.

Cancer Research recently trialled ‘smart benches’, following the huge spike in contactless donations. The benches allowed people to donate £2 by simply using their contactless card, the benches also acted as mobile charging points and Wi-Fi hot spots. Due to the initial success of these benches the charity is planning on placing a total of 100 benches by the end of the year.

However – this technology will not have been adopted in isolation. It is important to remember, digital transformations are not solely about disrupting the marketing with innovation and new tech, many businesses are already ‘doing’ digital transformations. A transformation can come from a website revamp or updates to a customer portal. Where most organisations fall down, is updating the nuts and bolts of these systems. Think about the website or portal, security, the data, the back-end systems – that end to end, integrated process is what’s possible when organisations think digital first.

User Experience – the heart of Digital Transformation

In today’s competitive market, customers expect systems to be aesthetically pleasing whilst being intuitive and quick to use, no compromise. However, it is also not just your customers that have this view. When it comes to innovating your systems, your staff need to remain a part of the process too.

By understanding your customer and staff needs and putting them at the heart of your business decisions, you can build a robust digital strategy.

How can Digital Transformation help your business?

When your systems aren’t performing as they should, your business suffers. Companies often find their systems begin to become quickly outdated from organic growth such as mergers and integrations, leaving multiple systems in play creating inefficiencies. This can make operations problematic and accurate decision making based on your data, impossible. A digital transformation strategy can help align all of your systems in line with your business objectives, keeping you ahead of the curve.

A digital transformation project will see systems updated and tailored to your specific business requirements. While many companies believe a digital transformation involves a rip and replace of all systems, starting from scratch is by no means the only answer. There are many options available, depending on your business needs including:

  • Enhancing existing systems
  • Refreshing websites and customer portals
  • Consolidating existing data sources
  • Integrating existing systems with new technology
  • Replacing legacy technology
  • Automating workflows and manual processes

A digital transformation supplier can help workshop which, if any, of the above solutions you need. They typically will assess your entire IT environment alongside user needs to recommend the right strategy for your organisation.

What are the benefits of a digital transformation?

For many companies, the benefits of digital transformation far outweigh way any risks. Here are just a few for you to consider:

  • Better customer experience
  • More agile working environment
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved decision making
  • Competitive edge
  • Transparency of data

To discuss your technology challenges, or for help starting your business’ digital transformation, talk to us today.

Why charities need to be prepared for GDPR
Why charities need to be prepared for GDPR 150 150 Kindy Mann

What is GDPR?

From 25th May 2018 ‘The General Data Protection Regulation’ (GDPR) will apply to all charities and businesses in the UK. GDPR differs from the Data Protection Act and places stricter rules on how data is collected, maintained and processed.

GDPR will also extend the definition of ‘personal data’ to include not only traditional manual records, but new online sources too, such as an IP address, where consent to store and use data is much harder to obtain. Charities will need to ensure that they clearly affirm that consent has been obtained or there is a risk of substantial fines.

How does GDPR impact charities?

Under GDPR, charities will need to provide an ‘opt-in system’ and ensure this system is maintained so when individuals withdraw consent, their data is removed immediately.

The implementation of additional processes is a daunting task for many charities, who already face pressure to regularly maintain and update IT systems on tight budgets. But success has been seen already. The RNLI have seen far more individuals opting-in to communications than they initially predicted. Third Sector have also reported that Cancer Research UK and British Red Cross will be adopting the opt-in system shortly ahead of the implementation of GDPR.

There’s no question that as with many other organisations, data is the backbone for charities and critical to fundraising and marketing efforts. With the introduction of GDPR, there is a risk that if maintenance and updates to data systems do not become ‘business as usual’, charities will be non-compliant and could face huge financial penalties of up to 20 million euros, or 4{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

5 tips to make sure charities are prepared for GDPR

Out of date data is set to be the biggest risk for charities. Not only could you face financial penalties, under the stricter data protection rules if personal data is not handled correctly, there is a risk of damaging a charity’s reputation.

May 2018 is not that far away, so we have provided some practical steps to ensure your charities data processes are up to scratch before GDPR comes into force.

1. Where is your data?

Ensuring you are complying with GDPR will be made much easier if you can easily track where your data is. Document the data you hold across all departments and locations within your organisations, data maps are a great place to start.

2. Who are your users?

No matter where your data is being stored, whether your users access it on desktop, mobile or the cloud, it should be treated with the same data protection compliance. A central database will allow your users to find information easily no matter where they are.

3. Have you got consent?

Under GDPR, consent cannot be inferred and you need to provide evidence that it has be obtained. Do you need to look at replacing those pre-ticked boxes that exist on your website? You need to ensure you provide the right to opt out too. Record how consent has been obtained so you can supply it to your data processor, the data cannot be used before consent has been established.

4. Is your data easy to find?

Individuals have the right to request their personal data at any time. Perform and audit to determine if your systems are ready to comply with these requests and updates will be intuitive and quick.

5. Are you complying with privacy?

For ease of transition to GDPR regulations, check that new systems you develop or adopt, comply with privacy from the outset. This is particularly important with automation or integrated software projects.

For help getting your charity’s data processes and software ready for GDPR talk to us today.

Why Business Analysts are crucial for Digital Transformation
Why Business Analysts are crucial for Digital Transformation 150 150 Graham Douglas

These days it isn’t enough to simply be more efficient than your competitors; the most successful companies are those which embrace digital transformation and provide radical new services.

But it can be difficult to know how to go about making the change, and even where to start. That’s where the specialist skills of a Business Analyst (BA) can really help.

Business analysts can play a key role in helping companies to take the necessary steps to identify those innovations and transform their services to become digital organisations.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is much more than simply improving your business through the use of technology.

Transformation means the creation of completely new innovations that were not previously possible. We are not talking about a one or two step improvement in the efficiency of traditional practices, but a profound change to the kind of work being done and services provided. A perfect example is how Amazon has changed the retail industry, or the impact Uber is having on taxi services.

What makes digital transformation different is not just the emphasis on customer experience, but that the example of companies like Google and Amazon has raised customer expectations so high that speed, simplicity, convenience, and personalisation are the new norms for all organisations think about a charity taking contactless donations or customers managing insurance claims from mobile apps.

How Business Analysts can help with your digital transformation

Business analysts are specialists in change and the process of change. This means they have a toolkit of knowledge and techniques which are specifically relevant for transformational thinking.

A good BA offers many advantages. Here are some of them:

  • Critical analysis. The ability to think in the abstract without being constrained by existing systems or the current ways of doing things.
  • Planning and facilitation of ideas and requirements workshops.
  • Has an external view of the organisation and its practices; they are able to bring a fresh pair of eyes.
  • Takes nothing for granted and asks the obvious questions that otherwise may be taken for granted.
  • Has a breadth of experience from working across different industry sectors; can introduce ideas from other industries and suggest what they have seen work in other companies.
  • Provides the bridge between the business and developers by translating complicated user requirements into technical specifications.
  • Politically neutral without baggage or vested interests, which removes any barriers which may exist to stakeholders and participants voicing their ideas and contributions.
  • Gravitas; working with an independent BA can add to the status and credibility of a project.

Customer expectations are higher than ever, which means the pressure is on for companies to have a better understanding of their customers’ needs and to translate those needs into innovative technology solutions. A business analyst can play a key role to help companies reach that goal.

To start your digital transformation with one of our Business Analysts get in touch today.

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