What does the future of work look like? Is it already here? How do we equip our organizations to meet the changing workplace? What do we need to do today?
These are all questions that Anil Patel, co-founder of Timeraiser and GrantBook asked himself when he started his year-long sabbatical to research the future of work.
As he nears the end of his research, he joined us on the podcast to talk about his findings.
Anil’s starting advice is simple and straightforward - upgrade your systems! To meet the changing work environment, our organizations need to be cloud-based and collaborative.
Many organizations are stuck with a donor database sitting on a server somewhere, a website that they can’t update themselves or files saved in random places where no one can access them. These antiquated systems are holding us back. They are limiting our impact, wasting our time and frustrating our staff.
But it can be overwhelming to make the change. Anil has done the legwork for you and shares three steps you can take today to save your organization both time and energy so you can get more work done.
the right option with the right features at the right price
Today we’re bombarded with many trends within the technology space like cloud-computing and other tools that allow file-sharing, instant messaging or e-signatures that are transforming industries. While many of these are accessible, it can be difficult to find and choose the right one for your organization.
Fundamentally, start with your core email and productivity system. The two most common are Office365 (Microsoft) or G Suite (Google - and free for charities). Not sure which to pick, ask if anyone on your team is already using them. Our team prefers G Suite for collaboration, but Microsoft can be an easier transition for those accustomed to Microsoft products. Either is great! You want to move away from two (or more) systems in your workplace.
Ideally, you want something that facilitates collaboration and is easy to share with external stakeholders. Imagine for your year-end reporting, instead of collecting stats in one document, sending that to a designer, exporting it to a PDF, sharing that PDF and maybe even printing it and popping it in the mail, that you can collect those stats in real time and give your stakeholders access to see it change daily. Both Office 365 and G Suite have visualization partners where your data could be pulled together in a real-time basis. This can help you get to action quicker, see where effort needs to be doubled down or catch any problems that may get in the way of service delivery in a way that is accessible to all your team members.
implementing your new system
With any general project management, you know that things need dedicated time, resources and thoughtful preparation. Moving data from one system to another can be time-consuming. Typically, the adoption process can take at least three months. Anil suggests that you should also develop internal champions to ensure a successful adoption of the new system. Having champions within the organization on the adoption plan can take an additional eight to nine months. To prepare properly for implementation, give your organization (and yourself) a year.
Guess what? You don’t need an in-house IT person to get this done. Look at your existing team members to see who might be interested in doubling down on being the “accidental office techie.” Have them watch YouTube series on Office 365 and G Suite, or sign up for free webinars. Between 20%-50% of their job description should be focused on training other colleagues and team members as part of your onboarding process, in addition to training existing members. The result is to have empowered team members problem solve and figure things out on their own.
overcoming the fear of online
With all the instances of data hacking and data breaches, there is a legitimate concern from moving from desktop applications to the cloud. It’s important for an organization, from a governance perspective, to begin to invest heavily and understand service-level agreements, terms of service and other legal documents to give a sense of how your data is being protected. Not all cloud providers are built the same and as a user, you need to know and incorporate different types of policies and procedures to make the data safer.
The first thing to understand is that the cloud operates a little bit different than having something in-house on a server. This requires understanding how to keep your information secure and the corresponding risks that go with it. More times than not, people who spend time understanding the space will come to realize that your data and information will be more safe and secure on a cloud than on a hard drive on a computer if you put some of the best practices in place.
It’s common for organizations to have staff work in the office, but with an improved cloud-based system you can have staff work from virtually anywhere. There is so much we can do today to take advantage of some best practices out there. But it truly starts with upgrading systems and making sure that we’re able to create a foundation for it. The better systems you create, the easier it is to focus less on having to manage your staff and spending more time getting work done.
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The Small Nonprofit podcast is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano