By Mark Gorman – Lead Consultant
After years of compensating for the limitations of its foundation management software, the Community Foundation of Broward (CFB) concluded that the system could no longer meet the organization’s needs. The software developer had been purchased by a larger company that was going to discontinue support for the product in favor of its own software application. Rather than automatically migrate to this new developer’s software, CFB decided to use this as an opportunity to evaluate its software needs in search of finding an application that would better support its growing operations.
CFB management engaged the Executive Service Corps-Florida (ESC-FL) to help in selecting a new organization-wide software system. The goal was to choose and implement a robust and fully integrated system that would enable CFB to efficiently and effectively achieve its administrative and programmatic objectives for the foreseeable future.
ESC-FL established the following process which it executed with the cooperation and participation of CFB’s board, staff, and senior executives:
- Comprehensive Plan: listing all steps in the selection process, assigning responsibility, establishing due dates, and updating project status.
Detailed Survey / Needs Assessment: in which CFB management and staff set forth priorities and requirements, and identified the areas where the current system was falling short.
- Request for Proposals (RFP): based on the priorities and requirements identified in the survey, an RFP was prepared and sent to four vendors widely recognized as leaders in this market.
- Submission of Proposals: Proposals were submitted by the vendors in response to the RFP and information/presentation sessions scheduled with each vendor.
Product Demonstrations: lasting 3 hours each in which vendors addressed a list of specific priorities identified by management and staff.
- Vendor Research: ESC-FL investigated vendor corporate information and made inquiries within the community foundation network. Additional demos covering specific topics requested by CFB department heads were also conducted as needed.
- Evaluation of Proposals: ESC-FL’s consultant team developed an evaluation tool, Presentations and proposals were evaluated in detail by CFB management and staff. The evaluation tool ESC-FL developed was used to guid CFB staff in evaluating their proposals on their merits.
- Reference Checks: Selected vendor clients were contacted for input regarding their experience with their system conversion and their assessment of the new software system.
Based on evaluations, references, further demos, and input from community foundations undergoing similar conversions, the management and staff of the Community Foundation of Broward selected an organization-wide operational management software to meet its needs. This software system covers the entire range of organizational operations, including:
- Grant and scholarship management
- Accounting/investment/fund management
- Marketing management, including social media, event management, and communications (internal and external)
Working with an implementation schedule provided by ESC-FL, CFB was able to bring the various system components online successfully and within the allotted time frame. The fully implemented system has met all expectations and resulted in operational efficiencies and improved information flow throughout the organization.