A lot of business leaders say they’re busy, but in our experience, no one is as busy as a nonprofit business leader.
Because funding for nonprofits tends to change from month to month, the leaders we know at these organizations often try to keep costs down as much as possible. Since the least expensive way to do anything is to do it yourself, that means the average nonprofit business leader has a lot more hats to wear than the average for-profit business leader.
Depending on your skillset, some tasks make sense to do yourself (recruitment) and others might even be fun to do yourself (office design). But some back-office tasks come with sobering legal consequences for seemingly minor mistakes– which is why quite a few organizations are on the lookout for an outsourced IT company for nonprofits.
Are you starting your search for IT providers? Here are five tips that will help you choose the right provider for your needs.
Do you currently have any reasonable tech support? If you have an overwhelmed in-house tech, you may simply need a helping hand managing day-to-day IT tasks. If you’ve been handling everything yourself or you’ve been relying on that one person in the office who’s “good with computers,” you probably want an outsourced IT company that can handle everything for you.
Maybe you just need a few things: email hosting, backups, disaster recovery, or cybersecurity network monitoring. Maybe you need full infrastructure support.
Start your search for an outsourced IT company for nonprofits by first identifying your needs and then finding a provider that can meet those needs.
This sounds like a no-brainer because of course you want your outsourced IT company for nonprofits to know what they’re doing… but once you get some quotes in and start crunching numbers, it’ll be pretty tempting to choose the “IT services” firm that says they can take care of your tech “because they have experience fixing copiers.” (Sheesh!)
Sure, you scoff now, but you’ll remember this advice when it comes time to choose your IT company. Hopefully, at that time, you’ll apply the advice and hire copier people for copier maintenance only.
Finding an IT expert isn’t hard, just search for companies that have won awards, that partner with big-name vendors like Cisco and Microsoft, and have stellar client references from overjoyed nonprofit clients.
Once you have a shortlist of outsourced IT companies for nonprofits with the expertise to meet your needs, it’s time to move past what they can do, and focus on how they do it.
Ask to see their SLAs (service level agreements), which will clearly outline their responsibilities in terms of:
In addition, check to make sure they carry General Liability insurance and E&O (Errors and Omissions) insurance, and make sure they have a clear change management process in place to smoothly transfer your IT tasks over to their hands.
Confused? If your prospective IT services outsourcer can’t (or won’t) clearly answer all of your questions, without jargon, cross that provider off your list. You don’t want more confusion, you want IT simplicity. And you deserve it.
You lead a nonprofit, which means you’re one of the very few people in this world who has dedicated their life and livelihood to a cause. When choosing your outsourced IT for nonprofits, you want a partner that supports your mission and understands your dedication. The outsourcer that cares about your organization will ask a lot of questions and truly get to know you, your staff, and your needs.
Note that this isn’t a one-way street. You should also get to know them and their staff; you should become familiar with (and agree with) their mission. When you work with a local IT support company here in Seattle, you can develop your relationship into a true partnership – and you’ll have opportunities to expand your local connections.
And there it is: The topic of money. We could give you the standard businessperson’s speech about how “price is truly the least of your concerns when choosing a long-term partnership,” but that’s simply not true for nonprofits. Price is a very important factor in your overall decision.
While it would be great to get world-class IT services and 24/7/365 support for free, it’s also impossible. Even your current setup of DIY IT management isn’t free – it takes a lot of time and effort on your end and is resulting in a lot of IT issues. (If your IT worked perfectly right now, you wouldn’t still be reading.)
Here’s the best way to approach the price issue. Instead of comparing “free” DIY IT to not-free outsourced IT, think of the transaction strategically:
Once you’ve considered all these questions, you can create a reasonable IT budget. A good outsourced IT company for nonprofits can help you develop a tailored IT management plan that meets your exact needs (no more and no less) and offers predictable monthly pricing that falls within your budget parameters.
Find an Outsourced IT Company for Nonprofits in Seattle
Since 2001, Interplay has been helping local Seattle organizations like yours secure and strengthen IT with hands-on support, strategic technology planning, and around-the-clock network cybersecurity monitoring and defense.
To get you started on the path to rock-solid network security and IT peace of mind, we’ve put together a 100% free DIY network and IT health assessment that you can take right now. It’s a simple checklist, but it’ll give you a great idea of how you’re doing with managing your IT.
Access the free Network and IT Heath Self-Assessment Checklist here.
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