What Your Nonprofit Should Do Before Migrating to New Software

When it’s time for new software for your nonprofit and you’ve found the right technology match for your organization, the next step is to migrate to the new software. There are some things you can do to make the move to a new system easier – and ultimately more effective – for your entire organization.  

Top things your nonprofit should do before moving to new software

Here are seven important steps to take before moving to new software for your nonprofit. These steps will help to ensure your new software implementation goes more smoothly and stays on track:

1. Designate a person to oversee the software migration.
Select someone who is familiar with your organization’s software and how it is used throughout the organization. Work with departments across your organization to ensure this point person is given the time needed to manage the software implementation project plus their regular job.

2. Round up all of your data.
Check with all departments at your organization to make sure you know where all relevant data resides. For example, ask if they’re capturing and maintaining data in places such as spreadsheets or email inboxes. This data roundup will help to make sure you migrate all necessary information into your new software system.

3. Give your data a scrub.
It’s important to start cleaning your data before you migrate to your new software. The new software won’t work as well as it should if you fill it with duplicate, incorrect, or outdated data. And some software vendors charge fees for data storage, so there’s no point in paying to store a lot of data that you don’t need.

Keep in mind that while it’s important to prepare your data for migration to new software, data hygiene is not a one-and-done project. Establish an ongoing plan to keep your data clean and ready to use for your organization.

TIP: If you aren’t sure about the best way to clean your data, or you need an extra hand, ask your software vendor or a software implementation partner like Cathexis Partners for tips and help.

4. Make a list of your data tables, queries, reports, exports, and dashboards.
This will help you to make sure you build these items in the new system as appropriate. At this point, also check to see if there are any tables, types of records, or even specific fields that you don’t need to move to your new software.

5. Update your database policies.
Make sure that your staff knows and sticks to your data entry and management standards. Update your database polices based on your new software platform and related processes (your new software vendor or implementation partner should be able to provide some guidance), and designate time for initial and ongoing training to keep your staff updated.

6. Refresh your staff onboarding checklist.
Include an updated checklist in your organization’s staff onboarding process to help ensure data security and make sure new staff members have the tools they need to do their jobs correctly. Some things to include in your checklist:

  • Determine what data permissions/access they need to do their jobs.
  • Provide them with user names and passwords for system and program access.
  • Schedule software training sessions with them to go over policies and procedures and teach them how the software works.
  • Establish a process to remove staff members from your systems immediately when they leave your organization.

7. Build an implementation timeline.
Software migration timelines vary. They can take anywhere from days or weeks for simple implementations to months or even years for complex projects. Set aside appropriate time for your specific software implementation by building a timeline with input from all stakeholders, including your software vendor and implementation partner. Here are the typical phases to include in your plan:

  • Discovery/planning
  • Design (including physical design of public-facing components, such as a website or form, or review of workflows to ensure the new technology supports your organization’s processes)
  • Development (including configuration, data mapping, and web development)
  • Testing and quality assurance
  • Training and deployment

Learn more
When you’ve selected new software for your nonprofit, you might be ready to jump right in with the migration to the new system. But taking time to plan and prepare for the move will make the implementation process much smoother, and the results will be more effective.

Discover more tips on selecting and migrating to new software: Read The Ultimate Checklist for Selecting Software for Your Nonprofit.

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