Improve more lives with the right technology

Posted by  Christopher Brewer

Using a traditional ERP to manage a project-driven NGO is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Here’s how to manage the volatility and complexities in your world with the right technology.

To say NGOs like yours face unique challenges every day would be an understatement. Your organization delivers projects in the most unstable environments in the modern world to improve the lives of some of the worst-affected communities on the planet, all the while capturing evidence of social impact and data according to strict regulations.

Not fit for purpose

With such volatility and complexity, you need the right digital tools to meet these challenges; using a generic solution that’s not fit for purpose is slowing you down – it’s costing you time and money, and could cost lives.

To cut a long story short, traditional ERPs are not right for the project-driven NGO world. These generic ERP solutions may be able to deliver finance, procurement and HR functionality for non-project-driven organizations, but not for project-driven non-profits. Here’s why:

  • most ERPs have internal reporting but don’t have capabilities to capture and present the data you need – things like 360-degree organizational performance, region-specific results, and specific legal entity status
  • none of the traditional ERPs for commercial organizations do a good job of understanding, measuring and reporting social impact, if at all
  • mass-market ERPs don’t have the capabilities for complex business planning against funding in such a volatile environment
  • the simple financial budgeting included in most ERPs just doesn’t suit NGOs
  • ERPs designed for commercial entities certainly don’t accommodate the complexities of grant management

Square peg, round hole

You need a system that flexes with your organization, accommodates your unique demands from stakeholders and delivers the right level of data security. Your organization needs an agile system with business insight and secure, detailed data capture and storage (especially in relation to information technology for development, or IT4D).

For your organization, an ERP system from the big players is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. It can be adapted to suit your needs, but it takes laborious, costly development and endless, ongoing adjustments to suit your rapidly changing environment.

Turning on a penny

To streamline operations in an NGO you need a solution that’s custom-built for project-driven, non-profit businesses (from a supplier which understands your sector), not one that’s been adapted from a solution for a commercial business.

You need a solution that can flex in an instant to account for conflict, disaster and disease; a solution that can save time, and lives, in the worst-affected communities on the planet.

Designed for volatility and complexity

Modern ERPs built for project-driven non-profits have the flexibility to support overnight crises like wars, natural disasters and outbreaks of diseases. With these systems, you simply create new structures on the fly, such as new organizational units, new programs, or new projects.

You get the flexibility to handle volatility, the ability to capture social impact and business insights that suit your requirements, as well as support for grant management and the right business planning tools.

To learn more about an ERP specifically designed for NGOs, download the Ultimate Guide to Managing Volatility and Complexity in Your NGO .

Christopher Brewer

Chris has more than 25 years experience working with some of the world's largest Not-for-Profits and NGOs to enhance their technological capacity. As a Global Lead, Not-for-Profit, Chris focuses on helping leaders identify and address changing patterns in philanthropy and shifts in technology to ensure their organizations' ongoing success and increase social impact.