Top Nonprofit Tech Challenges: Mobility Solutions

This is the third in a series of tips and resources addressing top technology challenges facing nonprofit organizations. If you have a suggested topic, please email us, and we will try to address that topic in an upcoming article!

As the world quickly moves to the cloud, the need for physical offices is evaporating. According to a recent American Time Use Study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The share of workers doing some or all of their work at home grew from 19 percent in 2003—the first year the ATUS was conducted—to 24 percent in 2015. In this same period, the average time employed persons spent working at home on days they worked increased by 40 minutes.” A growing number of employees are telecommuting at least part of the time, either by working at home or on the go using devices.

With a mobility solutions in place, nonprofits can realize benefits like cost savings, improved employee morale, and more efficient use of time and resources. Further, new tools may also provide more efficient board engagement, improve member relationship management and even help increase volunteer hours. As with anything, proper planning goes a long way toward ensuring a smooth roll-out and successful outcomes.

Here are some quick tips to ensure your nonprofit technology is mobile-ready and secure, as well as some suggestions for mobile solutions and services that may aid in your productivity.

BYOD

Nonprofits are increasingly allowing employees to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). On the one hand, it makes it significantly easier for your employee to use the devices they are most accustomed to while reducing a nonprofit’s hardware investment. On the other, it means your nonprofit must decide who takes care of the device: you or the employee? What happens if the device becomes too old for your software? How do you manage security? What devices are allowed? BYOD can work, but the questions should be answered and built into a written policy that is uniformly enforced.

Mobile-Ready Applications

Software that works on laptops and desktops may not be fully operational on devices such as tablets or smartphones. It’s important to check the mobile friendliness of your software, particularly accounting and CRM, prior to purchasing devices or new software. Most software companies have upgraded their programming to be available, but sometimes functionality is different when using a laptop vs. a tablet. Ensuring software-to-device compatibility ahead of time will save you money while also ensuring your employees have the tools they need to efficiently and securely perform their tasks remotely. For more information, check out our blog, “IT and the surge of remote workers.

Mobile Twinning

If you’re off to meetings or out of the office, it may be worth setting up a “mobile twinning” system for employees who need it. The system will ring both your work desk and an assigned cell phone at the same time (hence the “twin”), allowing you to choose which phone you wish to answer. The best part is that it allows you to keep your cell phone number private while still appearing like you’re simply answering your phone right from your desk. If you don’t pick up either phone, it pops the call automatically back into your work voicemail box.

Mobile Encryption

If mobile devices are storing sensitive information in cloud-based enterprise programs, local encryption may not be needed as the program will provide encryption. However, if contacts, photos and sensitive data is stored locally on the device, it becomes important to secure and back up that data, especially on laptops, which often get overlooked. (See our blog on laptop back up for more information.)

Video Chat and Conferencing

As demand grows for video conferencing, the competition is heating up. This means that your nonprofit can take advantage of more effective, user-friendly video conferencing features at significantly lower costs that what has been available in the past. For example, The Next Web reports, “The Chrome browser will have a new ‘Cast’ feature in the drop-down menu in Chrome 51, which is currently in beta.” The goal appears to couple this feature with Google Hangouts making it super easy to launch a video stream or video chat right from your browser.  

Not to be outdone, Microsoft just launched Skype Meetings for small businesses in the US. TechTimes reports, “the service features PowerPoint integration, the laser pointer and whiteboard functionality, and screensharing, which are some of the most popular presentation tools on Skype for Business.”

Video conferencing can provide opportunities to connect with your staff, volunteers, and board more often even when they cannot attend meetings in person. Since each service offers different functionality at different price points, we recommend that you do some research and “test” each product to determine what capabilities each solution offers, and whether it will meet the needs of your organization.

At Sinu, we believe that people matter, objects don’t. We look forward to helping your nonprofit best utilize technology to unleash the real power - the power of your people.