Digital Revolution

4 Foundations for Successful Digital Transformation in the Not-for-Profit sector

Posted on April 22, 2020

Estimated reading time 8 minutes

Before it may have been the CEO or perhaps the CIO or CTO driving a digital transformation programme, now for some organisations it has sadly been the current global crisis driving the change in IT operations. The digital revolution has already happened. The scale of change that has taken place – in communications, watching TV, studying, banking, shopping etc. – is significant, and it’s not over yet. The challenges we face in the world today add a whole new set of drivers for digital transformation.

For the not-for-profit (NFP) sector, the process of digital transformation offers exciting opportunities for those who embrace it and significant risks for those who delay or fail.

Those organisations who successfully establish the foundations for digital transformation will find new ways to revolutionise their internal operations and deliver better services to more people who need them.

Efforts to date have mainly been focused on digital marketing and fundraising (website, CRM, marketing automation). Whilst these have been valuable, the focus now needs to be on how digital technology can transform organisations around their core mission.

You no longer need a digital strategy – digital needs to be integrated into all aspects of strategy rather than relegated to an independent department – and we’ve identified four key areas that will help you get the foundations right!

Steps to successful transformation

We know how the story goes – “the majority of digital transformation projects fail’ – an incredible 70% according to one report by Forbes.[i] The cause of failure cited by 51% of organisations is “a lack of understanding around the available technologies designed to support digital transformation projects.”[ii]

We’ve supported many organisations with their digital transformation, creating the operational efficiency to deliver greater social impact and provide better service to donors, members and volunteers.

Many organisations with ageing, fragile and expensive infrastructure, where performance and incompatibility issues impact productivity and effectiveness, soon conclude that their transformation calls for an intelligent Cloud platform.

Step 1. Assess your Cloud Readiness

Most organisations use the cloud today – 96% according to a report published in CIO[iii] but there’s a big difference between using individual tools such as Dropbox, Xero and Dynamics 365, and fully embracing the benefits of collaboration, productivity and cost-efficiency through a cloud-first strategy.

Cloud-first is all about considering cloud computing solutions before any other to leverage new software, platforms and infrastructure on a subscription basis. As well as eliminating the capital and maintenance costs associated with on-premise infrastructure, it allows your business to scale with ease, enable your remote workforce and is inherently more secure.

“Players, members and staff have easy and quick access to any information they need, when they need it from wherever they are, on a scalable intelligent cloud platform.” IT Manager, LTA

Our cloud readiness assessment is created specifically to understand the key drivers for cloud transformation and assess the suitability of your current environment for migration to Azure.

Step 2. People and skills

The pace of change, new markets, customer demands and competitive environments, mean that organisations can no longer afford to sit back and wait. Indeed 55% of companies without a digital transformation strategy believe they have less than a year before they start to lose market share[i].

The time to act really is now.

Many organisations instinctively turn to the IT department to enable their transformation for the digital era, but digital technologies simply provide ‘possible’ improvements around efficiency, productivity and experience. To achieve a successful transformation, organisations must take a holistic approach incorporating people and processes.

This is why digital transformation isn’t just about technology, it’s about the business as a whole, and after years struggling with legacy IT, migrating services to the cloud allows an organisation to create a new relationship with technology, but what kind of people are needed to deliver that?

McKinsey reports that your digital transformation project is nearly twice as likely to succeed [iv] if you have the right people engaged in key roles. Getting the ‘right people’ in place can mean re-structuring the management layer and nearly 70% of organisations report changing their top team during the transformation process.[v]

With 25% of CIOs taking control over digital transformation initiatives[vi] and around 40% of companies creating dedicated digital transformation teams, it’s also unsurprising to learn that 84% of CEOs are involved in transformational change.[vii]

Many larger businesses create new strategic roles such as Head of Digital Transformation, Head of Technology Transformation and Head of Innovation who might share responsibilities with a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and a Chief Digital Officer (CDO).

But many organisations don’t have the resources to create dedicated teams and new C-level positions and would rather avoid the upheaval and disruption associated with replacing key IT leaders and choose to outsource development of a Technology Strategy Roadmap to a ‘virtual’ CIO.

The Technology Roadmap for your Digital Transformation
The virtual CIO must be aware of every new technology development and innovation, evaluating how it could benefit the organisation, able to articulate the value it could bring and how it could support the organisation’s digital transformation plan.

Required to deal with both IT and business stakeholders, the virtual CIO needs to be able to listen to both side’s objections, fears and ideas, empathise with their situation and clearly communicate the way forward. As an outsourced virtual CIO is impartial, they ask difficult questions that may challenge the status quo.

Translating technology into business value is something Atech has specialised in for over 10 years and our view is that every organisation needs to take advantage of modern working practices. So we have created a Virtual CIO Service which enables you to leverage our specialist skills, knowledge and experience without having the delays and investment required to upskill internally.

Access the enterprise-grade skills of a vCIO…

Step 3. Build a business case

While the benefits of embarking on a digital transformation to create a modern workplace are widely acknowledged, many organisations fail to get a project off the ground in the first place. Recent reports show that 86% of organisations are struggling because they think it’s too complex, they’re bogged down by a legacy system, or they don’t have the resources or people to pull it off.[viii]

One of the biggest obstacles to be overcome is the need to ‘keep the lights on’, and projects often stall because their teams are so wrapped-up in maintaining business-as-usual.

Then there’s the problem of a lack of agreement amongst CIOs of what digital transformation means in practical terms. Couple this with the fact that 39% of senior executives feel overwhelmed by the complexity of digital transformation,[ix] and the prospect of getting your project off the ground seems bleak.

But it’s not impossible…

To secure stakeholder buy-in you need to determine how the modern workplace will improve your specific organisation and build an appropriate business case to identify the scope of the project and quantify the benefits it would bring.

Consider how a new cloud-first, mobile-first modern architecture would improve collaboration, productivity and the services your organisation delivers, then assess the likely costs and the wider resources you might require. When calculating the expected return on investment make sure to consider the consequences and potential cost of doing nothing.

By carefully thinking through your modern workplace and creating a more tangible vision of what it looks like, you will be able to overcome complacency within the management team, fears over disruption to business-as-usual and question marks over the required investment.

Please contact us if you need help adapting practical advice for the modern workplace for the non-profit sector.

Step 4. Enlist the Help of an Experienced Partner

Although the majority of organisations are already using some form of cloud service, 85% are still reluctant to fully embrace cloud computing due to risk and security concerns.[x] But the public clouds provided by the major IT vendors are significantly more secure than your on-premise or hosted servers because they dedicate an extraordinary amount of time, money and resource to making their cloud technology bulletproof.

It’s possible that this reluctance stems from IT leaders’ lack of knowledge and experience, and organisations must consider whether their IT leadership is holding them back.

Research conducted by Vanson Bourne appears to concur as 50% of organisations surveyed said “they do not have the skills in-house to manage cloud security”, and 52% said “they have incomplete awareness of how their organisation’s cloud security affects their overall IT security.”[xi]

To avoid the delay and disruption caused by replacing IT leaders, you could ask an experienced and knowledgeable partner to guide you through the possible pitfalls of digital transformation and delivering a modern workplace.

Read the case study…

To help you quickly assess your organisation’s readiness for digital transformation, and identify weaknesses and opportunities in your current situation, Atech has prepared an online tool that considers three key solution areas:

Empower your Employees
Optimise Operations
Innovate for Impact
Go to our NFP Digital Maturity Assessment.

Keep calm and ask Atech
It’s quite common for us to start working with a new customer only to find they’ve previously engaged someone else to help, but after being given a large, impressive report they’ve done nothing.


Sometimes it’s because the customer doesn’t understand the advice they’ve been given, other times it’s because they just don’t have the inhouse skills to carry out the recommendations.

What a waste.

Feedback from customer projects confirms that once we’ve created the plan with you, we excel at delivering the transformation your organisation needs. We believe this successful execution is the result of asking the right questions – it’s not just about how much you want to boost productivity but creating a vision of what the modern workplace looks like in your organisation and the impact it will have. We convert the plan into a roadmap with a realistic and achievable timeline that everyone can share and embrace.

We can only create this vision through the open and honest relationship we build, making the whole experience more relevant, more human and more personal.

Discover more about why we’re the partner that’s always there…

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How can we help?

As Microsoft accredited cloud service providers we’ve got the tools and talent to put the incredible potential of cloud technology at the heart of your operation.

Fill in the form to speak to one of our cloud consultants about your cloud project. Let’s get the conversation started.


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