Here’s another recent Idealware entry (from 9/25/2008). Note that the Idealware post has a healthy comment stream. It seems like every month or two, I happen across a forum thread about project management tools. What works? Can you do it with a wiki? Are they necessary at all? Often, there are a slew of recommendations (Basecamp, Central Desktop, MS Project) accompanied by some heartfelt recommendations to stay away from all of them. All of these recommendations are correct, and incorrect. Project software naysayers make a very apt point: Tools won’t plan a project for you. If you think that buying and setting up the tool… Read More »From Zero to Sixty: What type of Project Management tool is appropriate?
This article was first published on the Idealware Blog in October of 2008. Like many of us, I’ve been using Microsoft products for a long, long time, and I appreciate many of them. Microsoft is a significant vendor, period, with their dominance in operating systems, productivity applications and, well, most everything else software-related. But they are a particularly compelling vendor in the nonprofit sector. I’ve often noted that, should Microsoft ever take over the world, they would at least be benevolent dictators. As evidence, we have the great work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their long-established support for charitable institutions, by way… Read More »Biting The Hand That Bites Me As It Feeds Me? Part 1
This article was originally published at Idealware in September of 2008. A major software package shouldn’t be chosen lightly. In this detailed guide, Peter Campbell walks through how to find software options, evaluate them, make a good decision, and then purchase the system in a way that protects you. A smart shopper evaluates the item they want to purchase before putting money down. You wouldn’t shop for shoes without checking the size and taking a stroll up and down the aisle in order to make sure they fit, would you? So what’s the equivalent process of trying on a software package will size? How can… Read More »The Perfect Fit: A Guide To Evaluating And Purchasing Major Software Systems
This article was originally published at Idealware in October of 2007. Let’s say you have two different software packages, and you’d like them to be able to share data. What would be involved? Can you link them so they exchange data automatically? And what do all those acronyms mean? Peter Campbell explains. There has been a lot of talk lately about data integration, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and how important these are to non-profits. Much of this talk has focused on the major non-profit software packages from companies like Blackbaud, Salesforce.com, Convio, and Kintera. But what is it really about, and what does it mean… Read More »XML, API, CSV, SOAP! Understanding The Alphabet Soup Of Data Exchange
This article was co-written by Laura Quinn of Idealware and first published on the NTEN Blog in October of 2007. Peter Campbell, Techcafeteria, and Laura Quinn, Idealware This is an excerpt adapted from Idealware’s article, “XML, API, CSV, SOAP! Understanding the Alphabet Soup of Data Exchange“. Repeat this mantra: I will not pay a vendor to lock me out of my own data. Sadly, this is what a lot of data management systems do, either by maintaining poor reporting and exporting interfaces or by including license clauses that void the contract if you interact with your data in unapproved ways. The software you choose has… Read More »How To Find Data-Exchange-Friendly Software
I’m attending a strategic planning session at Salesforce.com this week devoted to planning the roadmap for non-profit use of the product. This should be an interesting event and an exciting opportunity to help steer one of the most exciting applications to hit the industry in some time. I remember walking through the exhibitor booth’s at the “Science Fair” during the 2005 NTEN Conference in Chicago and noting, in the corner, the guy with a shaved head standing at a small booth titled “Salesforce.com” and wondering what, on earth, he was doing there. Wasn’t Salesforce that corporate application used by all those people trying to sell… Read More »The future of Salesforce
I was happy to be invited to participate on the advisory board for Social Source Commons, a project of Aspiration Tech‘s that collects, catalogs and distributes feeds of software tools useful in the non-profit community. The social designation is no accident – anyone can sign up and contribute. The newly formed advisory committee met today, with five of us on the call – two from Aspiration (Tim, who runs SSC, and Gunner) and three community advisors – one working with an org that does poverty outreach and two community consultants: Dan, Zac and I. Our sixth member, Sharon, who works with a non-profit that provides… Read More »Social Source Commotion
As NPTech community members have heard, a brilliant metaphor was coined the other day by Karen Schneider in her excellent article titled IT and Sympathy: “Free as in kittens” (as opposed to the popular “free as in beer”). It’s not a hard sell to tell the average executive that open source, or donated Salesforce.com licenses, or volunteer labor isn’t exactly free of cost. But “as in kittens” really says it well, implying the commitment and caring that need to be applied to critical IT investments, regardless of the license terms. I think Salesforce.com‘s offer of 10 free licenses to any 501(c)3 is a great example… Read More »Free as in "Hurricanes"
Well, let me qualify that. Buying a data management system is like buying a house. And it isnt, really, but there are some important parallels that highlight the things that go into a proper needs assessment. A data management system is any application that stores business information, usually in a database format. Common examples of data management systems include HRIS Systems, Accounting packages, Donor databases, etc. While Office applications like Word and Excel can be thought of in this manner, they’re actually tools that work with data and don’t really manage it at all – they leave that to you. In the early 21st century,… Read More »Buying Software is like Buying a House
This article was originally published at Idealware in January of 2007. Is your organization drowning in a virtual sea of documents? Document management systems can provide invaluable document searching, versioning, comparison, and collaboration features. Peter Campbell explains. For many of us, logging on to a network or the Internet can be like charting the ocean with a rowboat. There may be a sea of information at our fingertips, but if we lack the proper vessel to navigate it, finding what we need — even within our own organization’s information system — can be a significant challenge. Organizations today are floating in a virtual sea of… Read More »Better Organization Through Document Management Systems