What to consider before purchasing planning software
By planning software I’m specifically talking about digital services that helps with planning -strategic, project, daily, all of it. Some popular brands are Monday.com, Trello, and Asana. The purpose of these software services is to help break out big goals, with multiple departments and/or people into an easy to read, to-do list, tracking, document sharing, and chat features. Not all products are the equal and they vary depending on team needs. However, just because they exist, doesn’t mean you need to use it. Here are some considerations before you purchase planning software:
- What are your needs? Think about your organization, what areas could use support? Where are the gaps? These are big questions. To help illuminate the answers, consider where mistakes repeatedly happen. I had a client who worked on a team that was super, high functioning, and everyone got along great. Expect for one area, many times the volunteer coordinator did not know how many volunteers were needed for the events. This person had to constantly ask and verify for each event as the numbers kept changing. It eventually caused friction in the team. There was a flaw in the event planning system. They needed to review the communication process to fix this gap. Are there gaps in your processes? Could planning software help?
- How eager will your team be to adopt a new piece of technology? Introducing a new technology does not always get a warm reception. It takes buy-in from the team members. I’ve said it myself many times, “I don’t have time to learn to use this thing that will save me time.” Sound familiar? The transition to new software needs to be needed, wanted, and executed smoothly.
- Is there support? This can come from either the software’s tech team, instructional videos, or a community forum. Having a place to ask questions and learn more is a great way to extract value from the new technology. What does the software offer you? The software needs to make your work better, it is there to serve you, not the other way around. The software may check all your boxes, does it also offer other additional features? Don’t just think about what you want now, try to think into the future about your intended direction of growth. Choose a software that will be around for a while.
- Use your community. Ask others what they use and why. Take a look online, ask the question “what planning software is best for nonprofits?” or “planning software reviews” Read through a few lists and you’ll begin to see brand repeatedly listed in each forum. There are a couple websites that do side-by-side comparisons. I recommend Capterra.ca and Softwareadvise.ca. Both of these websites allow users to select up to four products and see the list of each notable feature.
Before purchasing and implementing software realize that it is a significant investment -in money, in time, and in acceptance or adoption. If the product has a learning curve, don’t just give up and create workarounds, learn how to use the product well so you can take full advantage of its features. This goes for all technology purchases.