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Jul 19, 2017

How Nonprofits Can Use a Managed Services Provider to Meet Their Goals

Data solutions can bring needed change to NPOs: Here’s why a managed services provider is the answer.

Nonprofit IT services

One of the most annoying things for nonprofit organizations is finding that their real goals – their mission statements – keep getting obstructed by the small mountains of day-to-day work. For the NPOs that were particularly anxious to make a difference, this is continually frustrating, and anything that can reduce time spent on shuffling data is a godsend. Good news! Using managed services (partnering with an external company for application and data management) is just such a solution. It can save time, get you back to the basics, and – well, just take a look at the all the advantages an NPO can realize when partnering with a data services provider.

Expertise in Solutions and Security

Strong IT and data security require experts. There’s no alternative here. Either you take advantage of available expertise, or you have a weak system. Today’s complex data systems don’t allow for much middle ground. The great thing about managed service providers is that they are filled with experts: It is their job to offer expertise that other organizations, like non-profits, don’t have direct access to. So if your IT departments don’t exactly match your ambitions, fill in the gap with managed services.

This is particularly useful when it comes to security: Even non-profits have their share of sensitive data (payment information, customer contacts, etc.) that must be protected using the latest data organization, encryption, and threat detection methods. It’s bad enough when a for profit company gets hacked and loses the trust of its customers. Few nonprofits can survive that loss of trust following hacked data, making security a priority.

True Scalability

Scalability technically refers to the ability of a company to scale operations up or down depending on the orders they receive. But when most organization leaders talk about scalability, what they mean is overall ability regarding not only orders but responses to all kinds of changes. This quality is particularly important for NPOs that may deal with very cyclical work or a variety of different projects throughout the year. Managed service providers can offer this type of true scalability – the ability to shift data to meet new demands no matter what the cause, and recommend new services that properly scale with the current workload.

Making the Jump to New Flexibility

Organizations that have been around for some years often prove hesitant to adopt new cloud services, data sharing features, or security precautions – not because they don’t want to, but because it would be a significant change. Hardware needs to be switched out for software; decisions need to be made about new mobile devices, the right services and vendors have to be chosen…it’s asking a lot of an NPO already swamped with demands on the front end. But this is actually why managed services have gained support – they offer a bridge to make all the big changes in an easier, more effective way. By removing the uncertainty behind a workplace transformation, providers help NPOs pick the organizational structure they want, then choose the right nonprofit managed services to support it.

Reliable Patching and Support

Don’t worry about creating a patching schedule and finding answers all on your own: With managed IT services for nonprofits, patches for critical applications are applied as necessary, and you always have someone to ask when you need software support for new apps or unforeseen problems. This may seem like a minor advantage compared to some of our other points, but remember that patches are often essential in preventing hacking attempts on older software. Even traditional support can be more valuable than it seems at first glance if it includes additional training and education.

Budget Planning

How much should you be spending on IT? What software packages offer a good deal, and which ask too much? Will your next project require a software upgrade, or are your current tools enough? It’s no surprise that nonprofits sometimes struggle to answer all these questions promptly, especially when budgets are tight (which is typically always). IT services for nonprofits include consultations and planning sessions to help create budgets that meet organizational goals while also providing the necessary data solutions and security. It’s not a balancing act that NPOs have to do alone, so why not get some help from the experts?

Specific Compliance Solutions for Your Unique Situation

Nonprofits tend to have specific compliance requirements that have to meet when running operating and managing data. A provider with experience helping NPOs can offer valuable advice on how to respond to these regulations. This is particularly important if a nonprofit deal with any health information (typically protected by HIPAA) or wants to accept payment cards (governed by PCI compliance). Other NPOs may have even more unique issues if they work with overseas data or currency. These aren’t areas where there’s any room for a misstep, so it’s important to get the right help with technology services for nonprofits.

Cost Control

A common claim about managed services is that they will save you money: This may be true, especially if that’s one of your goals, but it’s more accurate to say that managed services allow for better cost control. Prices move from hardware and internal data management to carefully constructed fees that are easier to rely on. Adding or removing services will change these fees in clear, immediate ways. Organizations that switch to a trusted provider find that they have a better handle on their data spending, and less chance of spending money on something that they don’t need.

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