Systems Audit – Brief overview of client operations to highlight areas for possible cost savings, productivity enhancements, improved control, enhanced image with constituents. The product of a Systems Audit would be a concise report of Findings and Recommendations. The client benefit is a quick assessment for immediate improvements and a framework for longer-range efforts.
System Planning – A more comprehensive analysis to identify the types of systems changes (applications, hardware, organization and staffing, resource budget, procedures, etc.) that would be appropriate and possible within broad cost constraints to address the needs and achieve desired benefits. I have developed comprehensive system plans for the Advancement or Membership departments in large universities and organizations, and for the entire scope of operations for mid-sized and smaller organizations. The product of a Needs Assessment would be a broader plan for systems changes with a limited number of recommended alternatives. The client benefit is a comprehensive assessment of directions providing a “roadmap” and budgetary guidelines for the next 3-5 years.
Requirements Definition or Needs Assessment – A more targeted assessment than a systems plan typically looking at a single functional area of operations such as Major Gifts, Events, or Membership. This may be the foundation for a systems selection project or may be incorporated into such a project.
System Selection – A process of determining and documenting general and specific functional, security, performance, technical, and operational needs of the organization. Requirements must be described in a format to establish clear communications with vendors, typically as a Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposal (RFP) and demonstration scenarios, for one or more system applications. The second part of system selection involves evaluation of vendors proposals, checking references, seeing demonstrations, making site visits, and other steps leading to negotiating a contract for the chosen system. The RFI/RFP and Demonstration Scenarios are interim products of this process; a signed contract and implementation plan are the final results. The client benefit for such a project is assistance with the non-routine task of quickly finding the optimum system/vendor from a large and diverse field of alternatives, and then selecting the system/vendor that best meets the clients needs within budgetary constraints.
Contracting Assistance – This may be the final stage of a selection project or may be done after the client has selected a system on their own. Work includes development of implementation plans and timetables, identification of internal and external resource requirements and negotiation of price and conditions. The final product should be a signed contract. The client benefit is avoiding risks and maximizing the fairness of financial arrangements and other terms between the vendor and the organization.
Systems Implementation – Often both clients and vendors find it helpful to have an objective third party to oversee an implementation project. The project management of an implementation would address planning and monitoring of hardware/software installation, system testing, user training, reports design, procedures development, data conversion, and establishing on-going support arrangements. The final result of this effort is to be an operational system. The client benefit is having an additional experienced resource during a period when extra work is added to operational staff.
Special Applications Assessment – Although many donor and membership systems meet broad client requirements, certain requirements demand different or complementary systems. Separate or special analysis may be required for the identification of special purpose or unusual application requirements within the client’s unique environment. Organizations must determine whether to acquire and modify/interface “best of breed” applications or to select for their special requirements and accept whatever fund-raising functionality is offered. These decisions are demanded for functionality such as:
- Ticketing and Subscriptions (for symphonies, theaters, and other arts organizations)
- Special Event or Auction requirements
- Media management and inventory/sales (for example, for radio ministries)
- Phonathon & telemarketing systems
- Administrative telephone systems
General Systems Consulting – Covering such special needs as:
- Review of “back office” systems and procedures addressing such areas as gift processing and acknowledgment, mailings, or report preparation
- Assistance with developing, flowcharting and documenting advancement office policies and procedures within the institutional context
- Design assistance for specific systems capabilities
- Negotiation with vendors for system’s problem resolution
- Analysis of reporting and data warehouse requirements and plans
- Statistical analysis of database and program performance
- Coordinating software and hardware installations
- Assistance in defining job descriptions and interviewing to fill a Director of Development Services or other similar positions
- Other specific subsets of the services described above.
The client benefit to using my assistance in the last two areas above is that you are getting work done by someone who not only is skilled and capable with this work but is also quite experienced in addressing overall Development Services and Advancement requirements.
If you would like assistance with these or a tailored project specifically for you go to my “Contact Us” page.