Nonprofits’ Top 10 Key Considerations for Moving to the Cloud

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Lots to consider when moving to the cloud

Now that cloud technology has matured into a mainstream option for business leaders, you may have decided that your organization is ready for the big move.

You’ve seen that others have improved their operating efficiencies, cut costs and managed to improve the work- life-balance we all seek. All that remains is for you to persuade colleagues and perhaps board members that the cloud is the right next step for your organization. Well, that and build a good plan for moving to the cloud.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why your organization should move to the cloud

First, how do you convince others that the cloud provides numerous benefits for nonprofits?

You’ll need to prove that the cloud can help support your program-to-admin ratio, spend your funding optimally, and interact seamlessly between finance and business development.

When you move from your on-premises system to the cloud with the right solution and provider, here are some of the benefits you may experience:

  • More efficient administration
  • More cost-effective infrastructure, with less on-premise equipment to maintain
  • Greater security for data and operations
  • Enhanced and simplified compliance and audit processes
  • Reduced risks and greater recovery amid disaster and disruption
  • Automatic upgrades for the latest technology, saving your team time and money compared with on-premise solutions
  • Easy scalability when your organization needs it

Top 10 Considerations for Moving

Let’s assume you get the buy-in you need and decide to move forward onto the cloud. Now what? How do you choose the best cloud solution for your organization?  We’ve put together our top 10 considerations to review before taking the plunge.  Do you have others? Let us know in the comments below.

No. 1: Can you count on your cloud service provider?

Your cloud experience hinges on the solution and provider you choose. If you need a high level of service at a fair price, you want an “authentic SaaS” solution. Don’t fall into a cloud scenario where you have to pay extra to add on functionality and services that should be included. Be sure to ask any potential provider for a list of the services and technology they provide, and at what prices. Particularly in the nonprofit world, many software solutions aren’t ready for 21st century cloud platforms without expensive integration work and add-on costs.

At Tangicloud, we offer Fundamentals with out-of-the-box functionality specifically for nonprofits. And Fundamentals is powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft’s true cloud solution with automated back-ups, guaranteed up time, world class security and more. Read more about the hidden costs of not working with a true Cloud provider.

No. 2: Does your internet connection need an upgrade?

 You need a strong, fast internet connection to support cloud services and ensure you’re gaining all of the benefits they afford. Your provider can help you determine the appropriate bandwidth. They can also advise you on a redundant internet option should your initial internet connection fail. 

No. 3: Do you have a cloud migration plan?

Many organizations don’t realize they have options when it comes to how much they’ll deploy to the cloud and what they’ll keep on-premises. It’s likely that you’re already using a few cloud services for software like email and file storage. One common approach is to move functionality and data in phases, so you can develop a degree of comfort, stay within your budget with subscriptions, and comply with any regulations that apply to your organization at the same time.

Your goals with your cloud migration will determine what functions and data you move and when. Work with a provider who understands your industry and can help you make these determinations, so you meet your objectives. The Dynamics community has many great CSPs (Cloud Solution Providers) who have the expertise and interest in helping nonprofits. Contact us and we’ll send you a list.

No. 4: Have you done cost comparisons?

With the cloud, you pay a regular subscription fee and, depending on your service provider, you may drop costs associated with maintaining, securing and updating servers and other hardware. Always ask about the features of your subscription and shop around for best services included in your fees. You can then control the cost of your subscription based on the service level you need and the functions you deploy, and you can scale it back or expand it as needed. What you save will drastically outweigh your cost.

The software you add can also be by subscription (SaaS) and updates and upgrades may or may not be part of that subscription. Be sure to check. 

No. 5: What will be the effect of remote access on your nonprofit team?

 The cloud enables remote access and collaboration for all of your organization’s relevant constituents, like volunteers and staff. This is helpful for regular nonprofit activities happening in the field. It allows people to connect and communicate from anywhere, any time and from most any device, enabling them to share and access important information. It’s also useful when events such as the COVID-19 pandemic force companies to work remotely. You can also check in during an urgent situation or emergency from outside of the office. Overall, we think that remote access is a long-term positive benefit for your organization.

The labor time saved and efficiencies gained with remote access contributes to significant cost savings. Rather than emailing an Excel sheet with data to the accounting department to rekey or manually enter, the team can now connect to a cloud ERP solution from any device and have that data ready to be processed across multiple systems. 

No. 6: Does the cloud help or hurt your compliance efforts?

The cloud makes it simpler and more automatic to manage compliance and be prepared for audits. Processes that are in the cloud will be tracked for easy reporting, helping nonprofits seamlessly tackle this essential task. And Microsoft has several compliance certifications to ensure you’re working the way your governing boards need.

No. 7: How secure is your cloud-stored data?

Clouds like Microsoft Azure have great security, backups and disaster recovery, and it’s important to ensure these are included in your subscription. Having a secure cloud hosting and protecting your data and operations brings great peace of mind. 

No. 8: Do you have the time and budget for staff training?

As you consider moving to the cloud, assess the skill levels of your staff and what it will take to train them to a level of familiarity with cloud services and applications. If you already use several cloud applications, the learning curve will be much smaller. But if you’re launching from an entirely on-premises system, take into account the depth of training you’ll need. Talk to your potential cloud providers about how they can support your efforts.

No. 9: How will a cloud-based system improve your operations?

Hosting your data in the cloud means you can be more efficient and active, putting it to use to make better decisions for your organization. Managing your data more efficiently means you’ll be better able to manage and serve donors. And you’ll improve administrative tasks that were once performed in spreadsheets.

Integrating Microsoft Power BI can add additional functionality that unifies data from separate systems, allowing nonprofits to easily manage and format that data for visualizing, sharing, and reporting. The software simplifies this critical process so nonprofits can show their impact repeatedly, consistently, and efficiently. 

No. 10: Are there any benefits for or threats to donations by moving to the cloud?

With everything that the cloud affords, you improve two of the most important issues for nonprofits: donor relations and finances. Having a real-time, accurate view of your finances will help you allocate resources optimally, so every dollar is wisely spent. And providing more convenient means for donors to interact with your organization and donate, coupled with improved donor management in the cloud, will make donating simpler – potentially encouraging greater frequency and new donations.

Your Next Steps

There’s no way to ignore that the 2020 pandemic forced nonprofits to rethink their operations. We’ve all had to move some or all of our operations to the cloud. But this proved that many nonprofits continue to serve their constituents heroically in a difficult and distanced year.

Now we have to accept that nothing is going back to pre-pandemic normal. The cloud is here to stay and will be a critical tool in your tool belt going forward. The cloud will allow you to reduce costs, burden, and risk. You’ll even benefit from up-to-date technology and software solutions built for the nonprofit industry with modern, remote access and real-time data.

Using the 10 considerations above, evaluate whether a move to the cloud is right for you. Then drop us a note to learn more about how Tangicloud Fundamentals, powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, can help you manage your organization more effectively in the cloud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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