•  Overview
  •  Process
  •  Use Cases
  •  Solutions
  •  Resources

Building technology in a growing business requires planning, foresight, and a centralized strategy. Oftentimes, one of the biggest hurdles to growing a business is having an integrated plan towards developing and socializing software for employees and customers.

Companies that grow quickly often need to re-evaluate whether the software they’ve built fits into a greater overall scheme. Similar to a check-up with a physician, a technology audit with Icreon can reveal your areas of strength and will highlight gaps. It provides an overview of your IT that is objective, expert and useful. We bring an objective and expert

view of your IT, utilizing our wealth of experience to help you optimize costs, increase business efficiencies and differentiate yourself from the competition. During an IT Audit, we draw from a number of our industry and technology-specific experts to give you a 360-degree view of what your technology roadmap should look like and how you need to staff for it moving forward.

  • ISO:9001 Standards Certified organization that ensures your software has 15 years of tested-processes built into it.
  • A mature team of Python developers that are able to use the flexibility & power of Python to rapidly build scalable applications.
  • Seriously talented Rails developers that push the boundaries by building sites that handle millions of users daily.
  • A Gold-Certified Microsoft Partner that knows how to leverage VB, C# and MS Developer tools to build scalable web apps.
  • 15 years of PHP Development Experience, utilizing the latest frameworks like Zend, Cake, CodeIgniter & Yi for rapid development.
  • ISO:9001 Standards Certified organization that ensures your software has 15 years of tested-processes built into it.
  • A mature team of Python developers that are able to use the flexibility & power of Python to rapidly build scalable applications.
  • Seriously talented Rails developers that push the boundaries by building sites that handle millions of users daily.
  • A Gold-Certified Microsoft Partner that knows how to leverage VB, C# and MS Developer tools to build scalable web apps.
  • 15 years of PHP Development Experience, utilizing the latest frameworks like Zend, Cake, CodeIgniter & Yi for rapid development.

The Process

  • IT Audit Process 1
  • IT Audit Process 2
  • IT Audit Process 3
  • IT Audit Process 4
  • IT Audit Process 5

Use Cases

Do you think your IT systems are up to date, relevant and effective?
Have your IT decisions been ad hoc and reactive to the rapid growth of your business?
Do your employees and customers deal with systems using software and systems that seem to be at odds with each other?
When was the last time you completed an over-arching analysis of all of the software, tools, and personnel that make up your IT operations?

See our solutions in action

NYRR
Legacy Migration
Legacy Migration
MLBPA
SiteCompli
Automation Platforms
Automation Platform

Additional Resources

How IT Audits Can Prevent Devastating Software Project Mishaps

Are you looking for a way to improve the use of software within your organization? Or are you worried about the risks and uncertainties involved with investing in a custom software project? Many C-Level executives in Fortune 500 companies as well as emerging startups are dealing with these issues and more. And an IT audit may be the most effective way to prevent budget overruns and lackluster end products.

Many software projects suffer from budget overruns and delayed timelines that end up drastically impacting the value of the software. Over 65% of projects exceed budgets. More than 30% miss their deadlines. And a surprising 17% of companies receive less value from their software than originally predicted.

Some projects veer off course so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company. One large retailer began a $1.4 billion effort to modernize its IT systems, only to see the project abandoned within a few years. As the company fell behind its competitors, it launched a $600 million project to update its supply chain management software. When that effort also went off rails, the retailer had to file for bankruptcy.

In order to avoid and minimize the potential risks and obstacles associated with software projects, IT audits must be a core aspect of the process. Prior to any development, coding, or design, IT audits can safeguard software projects from preexisting issues in the business as well as common pitfalls.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls and Uncovering Hidden Ones

Many software projects fail because of issues related to poor planning, unclear requirements, project complexity, and poor organizational environment. Seemingly boilerplate aspects of a project are essential to executing an impactful software implementation. Even the largest corporations can fall victim to poor planning.

SAP was slapped with a lawsuit by the California State Controller over a payroll software implementation. The office stated that the project cost taxpayers a vast sum of money without providing any sign working correctly. Some of the issues that led to the failure could have been easily avoided with a thorough IT audit and organizational assessment.

Planning and coordination is critical to a project’s success because poor planning leads to unclear milestones, over-ambitious objectives, and insufficient resources. Understanding the pain points of an existing system and becoming knowledgeable of the way users currently interact with software, is crucial to building something that workers will use to drive efficiency.

IT teams need to have project objectives agreed upon by all stakeholders in order to ensure proper delegation of responsibilities. Following this systematic approach insulates your project from changes in senior management, stakeholder politics and an unstable organizational environment. Even the BBC has suffered from failed software projects. During a project involved with the Digital Media Initiative, a British broadcast engineering project from 2008, the BBC announced a major failure: "DMI did not work and we must ensure that there can be no repeat of a failure of this scale".

Organizations must put in place the right controls and measures to ensure delivery of major infrastructure projects. IT audits do this job quite effectively by providing timely reports on risk identification, assessment, and mitigation.

Audits Can Transform a Software Project Into a Success Story

Many businesses are locked into legacy systems and applications and their system upgrades become a nightmare for project managers. IT audits help in delivering such projects by conducting thorough feasibility study, systems analysis, and post implementation review. IT professionals know that 80 percent of the costs and time spent on a software system, over its life cycle, occur after implementation.

Audit reviews result in significant cost savings by checking the system adequacy for the maintenance phase. The rapid pace of technology change makes an IT audit a critical component for risk management and corporate oversight. Small measures of prevention have the ability to identify and alleviate potentially devastating software stumbles. By utilizing audit reports, businesses can receive valuable insight that helps identify solutions to address current and future technology challenges.

IT audits by an independent and impartial firm are a cost effective solution for successfully delivering software projects. Make sure to inquire about audit frameworks, tools, and methodology employed by an audit firm in order to truly identify potential obstacles.

How Technology Can Revolutionize Your Nonprofit, Part I

An Olive Branch from Your IT Ambassadors

There's a big elephant standing in the tech consulting room, so let's address it: Your nonprofit needs business technology, but business technology can look extremely intimidating. These days, you can't even run a Google search for "nonprofit software" without having to endure an onslaught of cryptic acronyms: SaaS, CRM, RWD, the list goes on.

While you might not know exactly what a CRM is or how it’ll affect your nonprofit’s growth, you are certain of one thing:

Technology is essential for your nonprofit.

Whether you need to keep track of donor relationships, communicate with supporters through email, or provide a way for people to donate money online, you absolutely need technology to connect.

The statistics illustrate the importance of this need. Here's a quick infographic that shows the growing impact technology had on the nonprofit sector in 2013:

So you know that technology is a must, and that your IT staff or consultant can tell you how to implement it. Usually, the next step would be to approach your technological advisor, provide a list of your needs, and then monitor the process as they plan out and develop your desired product. There's nothing wrong with this system. In the end, the programmer will deliver a product to fit the nonprofit's needs. Everybody's happy.

But there's a better way to approach new technology than this, and it revolves around one basic idea:

Technology is not scary.

Here's an inside secret: All these big, overarching concepts that have slowly developed in the tech field after years of experience and iteration? They're not as intimidating as they seem. RWD, for instance, stands for "Responsive Web Design," and is really just a type of web design that "responds" to the viewer's input to look great at any size. Here's a sample of what a "responsive" site might look like on multiple devices:

Not so intimidating, right? And RWD isn't just some random buzzword floating around in the ether: Research shows that responsive design actually doubles the amount of donations made through mobile devices.

Via DonorDrive

Like RWD, most complex technological systems you can think of are actually quite simple to grasp at a conceptual level. Even without being able to know how to manipulate code or an understanding of how a developer is doing what they're doing, it's completely possible to get a feel for what is happening and how it's fulfilling your needs. Or maybe, by learning more about technology, you’ll think up completely new ideas for needs that you didn’t even know existed.

The nonprofit has the need, and the IT professional has the expertise. This is simple. But in the long run, even the most sustainable, most effective technological infrastructure is only as good as the people who are using it on a daily basis.

"Many of us shy away from technology. By leaving tech decisions to the IT department rather than schooling ourselves on these opportunities, we limit the impact of our communications strategies." – Nancy Schwartz, GettingAttention.org

Technology is a two-way process, and it's just as important for the user to know what’s going on as it is to have a development team to execute it. In this scenario, the IT professional should be more than just an executor. They should be an educator, a creator, a collaborator and an ambassador. By forging this kind of relationship between technology and nonprofit, ambassador and student—your organization can get the most out of its consultancy and the technology that comes with it.

So let's get started. Over the coming days, we'll be covering the many ways that tech can enhance and improve your nonprofit organization. With interviews, case studies, hard data and insights from our own experiences, we’ll discuss the trends, products, and needs that are driving the field as we know it. We hope you can use it as a sort of mini-consultation, and come away from the series with a new understanding of how technology can revolutionize—and not just update—your nonprofit organization.

Part II: Five of the biggest "People Problens" in Nonprofit Tech, and What You Can Do to Fix Them

Have any ideas or questions about nonprofit technology you'd like to share? Leave a note in the comments, or Tweet us @IcreonTech.

Choosing the Right CRM for Your Nonprofit: A Visual Guide

This post is part of a series on nonprofit technology. Click here to see part II

One of the most popular questions in nonprofit technology is "what CRM will work for my organization?" The most popular answer to that question is "it depends."

While that response can sound vague and even a little rude, it's typically the truth. There are tons of variables that go into choosing a CRM, so the process requires a very deep understanding of a company's needs. But even though it's difficult to provide a quick, individualized answer on what CRM to invest in, it's still possible to provide some basic guidelines and features on what you should definitely be looking for as you scope out your potential CRM systems. Here are some general tips on how to find the best CRM to fit your nonprofit’s needs.

CRM for Large Nonprofits

The largest nonprofit organizations have to deal with a staggering amount of data and donations, and they're likely hoping to streamline their massive constituent relations databases with new technology. The three platforms we're recommending below are some of the current market leaders at the enterprise level, and they all fulfill very different roles.

At this level, the top CRM priorities will typically be customization, reliable hosting and vendor viability. For customization, you'll want a CRM which offers a large base of modules and boasts a sizable online marketplace for growing out your system. For hosting, you'll have to choose whether you want to store your data in the cloud, with a partner, or on-premise, and then select your CRM according to that. Finally, you'll want conduct research into each potential vendor so that you can ensure that your CRM will be backed by a reliable user and support base for years to come.

The following grid shows a selection of three top CRM solutions for large nonprofits, as well as the unique methods they use to fulfill the most pressing needs.

CRM for Small/Medium Nonprofits

When looking to fill the CRM needs of a small or medium-sized nonprofit, you'll have to ask a few different questions than the ones posed above. In this scenario, integration will probably be a top priority for your organization. Since these smaller CRMs will be overall more lightweight than the ones we've covered above, you may want to make sure they work with programs you already use in the workplace, like Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook.

Since the most important features to be gained from these smaller CRMs are ease of use and deployment, make sure you're not sacrificing too much in terms of functionality. While these systems may take less to implement than larger CRM systems, they're typically not as flexible.

How a Strong Social Business Strategy Can Impact a Brand

A social business involves much more than employees with Facebook accounts or a company branded Twitter account. In fact almost every aspect of business operations have the potential to infuse social.

Surprisingly or not, social media networks that were once thought of as a next-generation time waster, are now being implemented within enterprises for productivity purposes. Customer service is even being conducted via Twitter. And email has been augmented with the rise of custom enterprise social networks (ESNs).

For businesses of all sizes, there are numerous ways to incorporate social media driven technologies for employees. Below, you'll find an overview of the most effective ways a company can incorporate social to outpace competitors and establish loyal relationships with customers.

1. Social eCommerce

From one man eCommerce operations advertising on Facebook, to global corporations sponsoring special offers in Tweets, social media has become a legitimate tool for brands selling online.

Companies like Chirpify and Klout, have arisen directly to provide business tools for initiating transactions within social networks as the former has done, and rank social influence and affiliate potential of users with the latter. In the same way that Amazon and other eCommerce giants use affiliate bloggers, brands can use Klout to identify influential social media users to incorporate into online affiliate marketing.

While such services may rest beyond the scope of most budgets, incorporation of social media 'share' and 'like' widgets at transaction pages and product review sections can spur customers to promote products to their own networks.

Many brands are also embedding Tweet streams within a website to supplement traditional reviews. A stream filled with positive comments about a product from real-life people can solidify brand interactions online into conversions and transactions.

2. Enterprise Social Networks (ESN)

In the same way that email and text messaging replaced pagers and bulky PDAs, enterprise social networks may very well augment and even replace email in some industries.

Social collaboration, knowledge sharing, and project management are now being facilitated by custom enterprise social networks (ESN) for businesses. Salesforce Chatter and Microsoft Yammer are available through a service based model. The software is similar to LinkedIn and Facebook but customized for the enterprise.

One of the most important benefits from an ESN come from easier access to information and contacts. Forbes recently published an article detailing how call center workers waste more than an hour every day searching for contacts and business information. By implementing an ESN, enterprises can ensure rapid access to the resources and data that workers need.

Burberry for instance implemented a custom version of Chatter. Each employee has a login with their own circles and networks associated with departments, campaigns or projects. CEOs can share status updates to specific departments or the entire company.

Messaging is also included in the software allowing for a central hub for communicating to coworkers and finding the information they need. By having employee’s start their day by logging into Yammer or Salesforce Chatter, team cohesion and collaboration will improve.

3. Crowdfunding

Although people may not think of social media when it comes to Kickstarter and IndieGogo, social networks are responsible for the viral attraction to certain campaigns. There are many examples of companies that have not only funded new products, but attracted the entirety of funding for startups on such sites.

For up and coming brands or established enterprises, crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for testing new prototypes or product ideas, and attracting funding for a startup. If a brand is strapped for resources, crowdfunding can be a great way to get feedback and assess viability of new product ideas.

Even within an enterprise, crowd-sourcing can be used to generate ideas in a collaborative way that incorporates every worker in an enterprise.

4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Despite being used by countless organizations for years, customer relationship management (CRM) software is the earliest push towards a social business. Dedicated applications for tracking relationships and interactions are inherently social. CRM databases allow an enterprise to communicate on a human level to customers.

They allow customer service representatives to personalize their assistance, and help a sales team precisely target leads based on their interaction history with the brand. They can track the entire history of interactions with a potential lead or current customer to provide specified service and outreach.

Salesforce has progressed CRM significantly, especially with the incorporation of the previously mentioned ESN Chatter. Interacting on a personal level, despite having millions of customers and thousands of employees, allows a corporation or small brand to interact in a social and personable way.

5. Customer Service

In a similar way to CRM applications, Twitter is shaking up how customer service responds to customers. Now that a majority of enterprises run corporate Twitter accounts, customers are airing their grievances and praise towards those accounts.

With the flurry of activity on Twitter, customer service teams are using the social network to pinpoint customer service complaints and proactively respond to them. Some brands have even reversed public perception of horrendous customer service, as exhibited by American Airlines.

American Airlines' Twitter account has received multiple articles on places like the Huffington Post, detailing the extent and responsiveness of their Twitter customer service representatives. Although it is a great place for helping customers deal with issues, policies and due diligence must be in place. Just take a look at the latest Tweet mistake from US Airways.

The Path to a Social Business

Social media is much more than gaining likes and sharing trendy stories. For today's business, social is a mindset rather than a straightforward technology offering. Wherever there are gaps in communications and access to information, social can potentially fill the void.