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A word of advice:  

if you are revolutionizing how your foundation interacts with technology… 

if you plan to disrupt your organization on a tectonic scale…  

if multiple software implementations and integrations are planned… 

…a phased implementation plan is crucial.  Keep your scope manageable. 

 

 

KEY TO SUCCESS 

Define your foundation’s character: of the value sets below, which two values does the foundation prioritize most often? 

  1. Excellence and quality 
  2. Nimbleness and speed 
  3. Thrift and resourcefulness 

If you prioritize excellence and quality + nimbleness and speed, you should plan for an aggressive timeline with high delivery expectations.  You will need the funding and board backing to hire extensive external resources to avoid staff burnout while meeting your deadline. 

If you prioritize nimbleness and speed + thrift and resourcefulness, you should plan for an aggressive timeline that leverages the efforts of internal staff.  You will need leadership that accepts a rudimentary Phase I implementation and leadership that can plan for staff capacity to be significantly reallocated from foundation business processes during the implementation period. 

If you prioritize excellence and quality + thrift and resourcefulness, you should plan for a longer timeline that leverages the efforts of internal staff.  You will need the project sponsor to set  timeline expectations with stakeholders (board, staff, funders, grantees and investment partners).  The sponsor will also need to be impeccably diligent in her change management communications, highlighting incremental progress. 

 

PITFALLS 

Taking on multiple software implementations and integrations simultaneously will tax your foundation beyond its capacity—even with external resources engaged, direct staff engagement is crucial to a successful technology transformation. 

  • The staff time required to devote to simultaneous implementation projects is exorbitant and the foundation’s daily grants management processes will suffer as a result 
  • Testing multiple new systems at the same time prior to launch is a 10-car pileup of training end-users, testing in multiple environments and coordinating feedback to multiple vendors 
  • If one or more interrelated software platforms or integrations are found to be lacking during testing, the process of starting over (from vendor selection to implementation) is demoralizing and the workarounds required in the interim tax efficiency 

While it is tempting to treat an implementation like an all-you-can-eat buffet, the equivalent of project indigestion will inevitably ensue.  Know your limitations and be mindful of biting off what your organization can chew. 

 

Next article in this series: 

Managing the Elusive Unicorn of Change 

 

 

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