The “best tool” of choice

There are times when I get looped into some conversations about X versus Y versus Z tool on rather sparse reasoning. 

  • WordPress v Drupal v Squarespace v Wix
  • NationBuilder v Raiser’s Edge v CiviCRM
  • WooCommerce v Shopify v Opencart

 These are usually borne out of the following reasons:

  1. Someone had an issue once upon a time and they gave up a little too quickly / easily. They now have misconceptions.
  2. The person in charge of the tool didn’t have matching skills
  3. The tool just wasn’t the right fit functionality and requirements wise.

I say “too often,” because it’s #1 and #2 that covers the majority of these conversations. #3 is a different case and should be handled differently. In this case, do a post-mortem on why that decision was made and how to avoid it going forward.

Why am I not a fan of “tool talk”?

Frankly it’s just a minefield and is not the right mindset to begin an IT assessment around. Why? Because going straight to the “tool talk” is not at the strategic level but the implementation level.  It’s a trap that is bound to make someone unhappy in the end.

You need to start with your nonprofit’s goals and strategy, not what tool someone on your team happened to use before and therefore it’s assumed it makes sense for your current situation. Don’t make assumptions, focus on a clear requirements analysis at the start and stay factual. 

And there are always constraints and compromises that will occur. You have a limited budget and time on your hands. Usually there isn’t the perfect tool but a few that fit your functional requirements and would work quite well if you picked any of them. 

So once you have these boiled down, it’s now a case of the current people and budget you have in place. The short line that I always say to myself is, “ the best tool is the one that fits the requirements AND you and your staff know how to use”. 

As a nonprofit, you don’t really care so much about the tool. What you’re really concerned with is how it’s going to empower you to advance your mission. 

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Andy took the time to fully understand our immediate needs and limitations. He also worked with us to develop a process to keep our short and long term development/features goals moving forward at our pace. This ensures that implementations done today also consider the impacts on future planned enhancements.

– Evan McMahon, LPIN
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