There are often multiple ways to solve a problem using technology, some better than others. It can be overwhelming to navigate. Sometimes bringing on a technology partner to help can be the smartest investment.
Here are a few of the most common signs we’ve seen that indicate your nonprofit or similar organization may need support from a partner.
You Don’t Have The Skills In House
This is many organizations’ first clue that they need to engage a knowledgeable partner.
Let’s say you need to update your data system to support a new program but don’t have anyone on your team with coding skills. Contracting with an agency or individual with coding experience probably seems like a no-brainer. But if you find yourself with several technology and software-related projects, you may consider bringing a full-time software developer on staff. Though there are some scenarios in which this works well, we generally recommend against this approach.
The kinds of technology problems and projects that can arise are vast. It’s unlikely that a single person has all the necessary skills or expertise you need. For example, someone with next-level engineering skills is unlikely to bring that same superpower to creating and implementing organizational tech strategies and vice versa. Finding a partner who has the expertise to help with a specific problem is often a better way to meet your needs than hiring.
You Need To Move Quickly
We know that organizations in the helping field often have to pivot to meet emergent needs. A need for new tools and technology often accompanies those pivots. Engaging with an organization that specializes in software development, especially one that understands the field you’re in, is a great idea when you need that new data system yesterday.
There’s a good chance that the energy you would spend trying to “DIY” could probably be invested more efficiently elsewhere. A partner with expertise in the technology you’re trying to build or implement will leverage tried-and-true processes that enable projects to move forward as efficiently and effectively as possible. This is especially true if you can find a partner with additional domain expertise who already understands how you operate.
Depending on the complexity, these projects can and do take time. But having experts at your side is going to save you time and headaches (at the very least).
You Want to Make the Most Sustainable Investment
A good partner will help you temper your spending by working with you to design solutions that are long-lasting. By working with a partner, you limit your investment to the engagement. You’ll also get the added benefit of having access to their entire team’s knowledge base, assuming you’re working with an organization. They will often be in a position to help you think through your upcoming investment needs and help you assess which projects will meet your most emergent needs versus those that can wait. This can be especially helpful for organizations that receive grant funding, which can be subject to change year-to-year.
If you can relate to any of these common scenarios, it may be time to reach out for help. We suggest teams start by learning about the different types of technology partners. This will put you in a good position to learn about companies that might be a good fit and begin vetting your various options.