We explore the lasting value of ready-to-use technology and the myriad benefits of sustainable solutions
Planning for the future has been a difficult task for charities lately. A constantly changing landscape over the past year has meant that organisations have largely focused on solving short-term problems, while working hard just to keep things ticking at a time of rising demand.
But, as the world begins to open up, we can increasingly turn our attention back to long-term goals and how to achieve them.
Charities may find themselves taking stock of their technological capacity, after successive lockdowns accelerated the need for digital transformation. The rapid pace of change highlighted key flaws in how charities operate, with half of charities across Europe saying they struggled to reach beneficiaries or deliver services in lockdown.
When such issues arise, however, searching for the right solution can be an arduous process, requiring vital time and resources. Not every charity can afford to address their problems with bespoke solutions, especially when emerging from a pandemic.
And that’s where the re-use of existing technology comes in. Re-use is about integrating, configuring or customizing an existing platform or software to address the specific requirements of an organisation. Now, we recognize that having your own ’custom-built’ solution sounds fancier but whether you’re investing in new technology or a new sofa, there are many benefits to ready-made solutions that can be scaled and adapted by charities without huge IT costs.
In this article, we run through three key benefits that organisations at the beginning of their digital transformation journey will be able to take advantage of by choosing off-the-shelf solutions.
These are the main reasons why J.P. Morgan’s Force for Good technologists dedicate the first part of their project – the ‘discovery’ phase – to assessing each charity’s technical maturity, budget allocation (if any), team capabilities, to determine whether existing platforms or services already on the market would be preferable to anything custom, based on the charity’s resources, needs and objectives.
Bespoke solutions built from scratch can often be pricey but regardless of the initial set-up costs - which may sound within budget – it is also important to think about the long-term ongoing cost incurred by charities determined to stick with that custom code solution. Think: deployment costs, monthly maintenance fees, security updates, version updates, hosting fees etc.
Let’s set the scene: Is that bespoke website likely to be functional in say, two years’ time? The digital landscape is changing rapidly and a bespoke website, for example, is going to require regular and instant content updates that perhaps can only be altered by developers.
Most charities don’t have in-house web developers, which means the website will either become less functional and outdated or you will have to pay someone to update it for you.
Using the foundations of an existing off-the-shelf platform or software, on the other hand, means that it will be owned by a provider whose operations are centred around providing key updates automatically to ensure their product remains functional for their clients.
Top tip: Most providers offer reduced rates or free packages for non-profit organisations – so make yourself known as a charity!
Due to the regular maintenance of the product by the business who created it, out-of-the-box technology will likely have a longer shelf-life. It is also generally more resilient to changes across the entire digital landscape, as businesses aim to stay ahead of the curve.
The business knows its longevity rests on the ability to attract and, importantly, retain clients. If a product is no longer relevant or functional, the business could suffer reputational damage, and word could spread that it isn’t up-to-scratch.
It is therefore less likely to become outdated because of changes like operating system updates, compared to something built in-house.
It should also make the solution more resilient against cyber-threats. Not only will an out-of-the-box solution be more thoroughly tested against cyber attacks – the reputation of the business that owns it rests on this as well as yours – regular updates will patch up any vulnerabilities through which hackers could get in.
Growing in size can be an exciting time for any charity, but not when your technology can’t grow with you. Websites crashing due to increased traffic, for example, is never a good look.
A maintainable out-of-the-box solution will adapt to your needs, without needing to change wildly during the time you use it.
Furthermore, out-of-the-box solutions allow you to adapt to them. They require no special installation or configuration, and importantly, due to their wide appeal, resources on how to use them are more widely available.
A quick internet search might even do the trick if a problem crops up, with other users of the same technology contributing to forums, but there is also dedicated support from the technology provider.
Remember, their business revolves around helping people use their technology as easily as possible, for the same reason it keeps it up-to-date.
J.P. Morgan’s Force for Good initiative supports charities in their digital transformation and knows that this be a time-consuming and resource-expensive process. It aims to make it easier by helping organisations find and implement technology that tackles their challenges, but that is also sustainable for the future.
Helping non-profits see the benefits of sustainable technology ensures that the solutions delivered will remain usable long after J.P. Morgan’s technologists have stepped away. Give a charity a bespoke solution and you help them for a day. Teach them how to use an existing one, and you help them for life.
Click above to see how J.P. Morgan's technologists can help you advance your digital transformation