The 5 Most Important Aspects of Nonprofit Tech’s Success in the Cloud

The hype around the cloud is that it removes the burden of IT maintenance from nonprofits. This is true. However, the cloud is not a magic solution. Implementing it requires that you bulk up your knowledge on five essential topics:

  1. Budgeting: Cloud computing changes your IT from a Capital Expense (Capex) to an Operational Expense (Opex). Picture it as the difference between a) building a power plant when you need electricity (buying a server) and b) buying electricity from your local electric company when you need it (cloud model). The cloud can help you save money but you need to be prepared for this shift from large one-time costs to smaller monthly costs. Your budget needs to be aligned with the reality of paying for the computing you need monthly.
  2. Organizational Analysis: The cloud is very flexible and can scale up or down based on your needs, but it requires that you be an active participant in communicating those needs to your cloud provider. If your environment is running too slow, you need to let your cloud provider know. You may need more bandwidth or have your server beefed up. If you need to add more users, or if one set of users needs a different set of functionality than another, you need to communicate that to your cloud provider. The cloud can be tailored to your nonprofits needs. Doing so will save you money. But your analysis of the day-to-day needs of your nonprofit is what determines the extent to which your environment gets tailored.
  3. Change Management: Change. It sounds easy, but you need to be able to work with your employees and coworkers to make sure that everyone transitions smoothly to the cloud. They will have to adopt slightly different working habits (very slightly). Make sure that people are not left behind in a state of confusion. A good service provider will help ease this transition.
  4. Disaster Preparedness: The cloud is “always on” even if your office is not. Prepare your organization for this new reality. Your staff will be able to get back to work, even if they can’t get to the office. A good disaster preparedness plan, well communicated, will help articulate this.
  5. Vendor Selection: Who will have access to your essential data? How will your service provider backup your data? What will happen if you something goes wrong? What happens if your cloud provider goes out of business? These are all essential questions to ask your provider to make sure that you are as secure as you can be in the cloud.
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