Thought Leadership from Industry Peers

Give projects the same respect as business as usual

Peter Heather | November 23 , 2016

Retail Technology Solutions

The Charities Project Manifesto was published nearly two years ago. I have been looking at the content in the manifesto and asking is it still relevant and is it being applied in practice.

Part 5 -Give projects the same respect as business as usual

Quote from a Charity IT project lead…”Charities have access to great enterprise software systems at no cost or at greatly reduced cost…this is a great potential benefit but there is never a ‘free lunch’…you have to up your spend on operational support too.”

An enterprise system project needs enterprise level support to be effective. If you cannot provide the level of support needed to run the system well i.e. the trained staff with the new application development skills and the budget to run these systems then the value that charities derive from the use of enterprise systems will be low.

Charities have always had an issue with projects and operational support. I have seen significant IT projects well managed and resourced but when they have been completed and released to production there is a huge issue….no one in the charity had included the real ongoing maintenance and support of the application apart from the capital costs for equipment and ongoing licencing support costs….there was a huge disconnect between the ‘business as usual’ operations and the management of the new project that had been introduced.

Quote from a Charity IT project lead….”We have had blended application development and operational maintenance & support contracts for years….DevOps is not new to the charity IT sector”

This may be true for one or two of the larger charities who can see the benefits of application management contracts which cover the project and ongoing operational needs for the application but this is not typical in the sector.

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There is an increasing trend to develop new CRM systems on Salesforce and Microsoft platforms. These skills are in ever increasing demand across all sectors …not just charities and not for profits. It is unrealistic to think that in-house skills will be retained for too long in such strong commercial markets and that the people involved in the project will move to a support role to maintain and develop the system.

Charities should consider the right partner for application management …a partner that can maintain the technical skills of their staff (certification, training, rich technical experience) and that can provide a consistent level of service that an enterprise level system demands.

From a price performance perspective the offshore model has proved effective for a number of charities and can be effective for more if the lessons learnt from the successful examples are followed.

Let me know if you would like some help in finding the right partner to manage your core applications.

Peter Heather Former IT Director | ActionAid, WaterAid

Former Head of IT with WaterAid and ActionAid helping charities and not for profits have a good experience with IT & Systems. Peter has a strong background in IT and significant experience with transformational change projects. His career in business analysis and programme management as well as operational and general IT management brings specialized knowledge of the sector for the benefit of charities and not for profits. Read More


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