Why do big ICT companies have no idea of the requirements of not for profit organisations?

One of my clients recently received a proposal from a large ICT company based in Canberra that I found very interesting.

We manage a large number of not for profit organisations in the canberra and ACT area of Australia.   Our clients range from 3 users up to 50 users and 80% of them are not for profit organisations.   We are no means the cheapest managed services provider in the ACT but, I believe, we are one of the best and we deliver exceptional value for money with our blended managed service solutions.

I am not saying that to brag but our repour with our clients and our capability to deliver high level business and ICT support have given us glowing testimonials and references.   Why I am saying that is we deliver great value for money to those not for profit organisations based in Canberra.

One of our best features is that we go out of our way to deliver the best solution for businesses with little money to invest In their IT infrastructure.   We do not deliver sub standard and we always deliver over what we have promised, furthermore if we quote a price that is how much they pay.   We have NEVER gone back to a client and said it is going to cost more than we quoted so they have to pay more.

So to get to the crux of this article.   We were recently privy to a proposal from a large ICT company.    Our client is a large national charity that is separated into sub groups, individual locations and they all have separate budgets.   Like all not for profit organisations all of the money that they raise goes back into their cause.   They do not spend money outside their cause without some serious consideration.   Everything they do is for their cause

This group has a database system that creates reports that are used to justify government spending, the system tracks their business processes and is used to manage their staff and clients.   This system was purchased and installed  across the whole of the organisation for under $10,000.00.   One of the idiosyncrasies with the organisation is that although they are the same organisation they like to keep everything they do as separate and separated as possible.

Each of the areas of this national not for profit are so protective of their own little piece of Australia that they have their own boards and management structure, their own ICT support and their own way of delivering their benefits to the local community.   The only standard is the way they report to the government.   The ICT support for individual areas is delivered either internally or as a managed service, in most cases as a donation or at seriously reduced costs.

If you had this understanding of the not for profit organisation you would know that to approach them with a $150,000.00 initial cost and $17,000 per month proposal would be totally ludicrous.  Furthermore it shows that you have no understanding of the systems and politics of the organisation as well as showing a lack respect for their cause.   Maybe it was the sales team just putting the proposal out there, but a lot of work went into it.

So at a sales level it is a total fail, but at a technology level it is also a total fail. Not for profit organisations are looking to improve their technology but not at a cost and detriment to their cause.   In most cases they will invest in a solution as long as it fits certain criteria.   Like any organisation they are not looking for cheap, but they are looking for value for money, improved functionality and better ways of doing business so that the savings can be reinvested in the cause.   This proposal fails at both of these levels.

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