Project Management Online – Good Idea or New Fad?

Project management itself is an interesting term. Does the all encompassing term ‘project management’ include the more specific activities of ‘project planning’ which, would by definition involve allocating resources to tasks, probably linking them to milestones and invariably producing calendars, schedules and most likely Gant Charts.

There certainly are some online systems that will attempt to match resources to tasks and represent them graphically, but the all-encompassing term ‘project management’ really relates to the more general concept of ‘managing’ projects rather than simply defining what should be done by whom. You could say, an online project management tool shouldn’t simply tell you who should be doing what but rather help you make sure that they do it, and that they do it on time!

Having taken this on board, many organisations now take advantage of online project management systems, typically having been won over by the idea in principle and recognising the benefits. After all, being able to publish project information online and make it readily available (shared if you will) to contacts, team members and even clients makes for one smooth communication channel, with everybody being automatically kept abreast of project progress, changes and updates. This is surely a good thing!

So where exactly are the savings and why bother?

There will be obvious savings made, with all the information available online there will be less printing, less paper, less ink and less postage. In time you may be able to free up some space and throw a few filing cabinets away, maybe even move to a smaller office, but if this is where you think the biggest savings are to be made you’d be wrong. Such ‘hard’ savings pale into insignificance when compared against the real benefits of managing your projects in an open and shared online environment.

The real savings and effects of using such systems can be found in the reduction (or hopefully removal) of mistakes and consequently missed project milestones. The cost of having to backtrack, rectify and make good is devastating to any existing project plan. Affecting as it does both your own timescales and those of the other contributors/participants in the project. Considering the knock-on effects alone of unforeseen changes to project timescales should be enough to make sure everything that can be done to avoid this disruption is done.

Therefore, an open approach to sharing and publishing all aspects of project documentation becomes an obvious course to take. Apart from anything else there is an immediate involvement of all parties, by openly publishing documentation and content companies are effectively freeing themselves from unique blame if any aspect is incorrect. In old-fashioned terms it’s a CYA policy (cover your ass) for those who are not familiar with emerging American terminology.

There is a flip side to this approach of course; modern systems come with comprehensive audit trails, clearly stating who did what and when. Incorrect or inaccurate information can come back to haunt you. But despite this, most companies recognise that openness and clarity is the best long-term policy.

Interesting stories have emerged from companies who have embraced such solutions for their own internal projects as well as external ones. Conventional wisdom would argue that individual users would be reluctant to share their own personal content with colleagues, but would rather be protective of their own ‘intellectual property’. In fact, companies have reported that exactly the opposite is true. If a user has developed a useful spreadsheet, calculation or document, the kudos gained from sharing that content with a rest of the group far outweighs any selfish advantage gained by keeping their content private. User ‘buy in’ becomes rapid and in most cases universal.

A similar story emerges when online management tools are shared with contacts outside your own organisation. Clients for example feel trusted, involved and appreciated. There is no better way to build long-term relationships and of course if the project is completed on time and within budget, there’s another reason for the client to be happy.

Project management almost by definition involves communication and sharing ideas and objectives with a team. The old-fashioned way was meetings, minutes and correspondence. Things then moved on to include telephone and e-mail and now they have moved on again. Modern project management naturally embraces the modern tools available and these now include workspaces, task lists and project calendars, all shared online.

Effective Donor Management Solutions for Non-Profit Fundraisers

Maintaining a sustainable donor base is essential towards making a fundraising event successful. For non-profits organizing regular fundraisers is even more important as their growth as an organization depends of the same; funds raised through these events are allocated towards working for social causes. Availing comprehensive online event management solutions that come embedded with fundraising tools provides exceptional donor management facilities that make nurturing customer relationships a rather easy task. Whether it is for maintaining year-round communications through emails and newsletters, or for making year-end appeals to new and existing donors, a donor management system can prove to be extremely helpful in streamlining backend operations thereby reducing overall cost for the non-profits.

Wading through endless numbers of spreadsheets, email programs, dated lists of campaigns, and unfriendly donor databases constitute a major chunk of back-office jobs of most non-profit organizations. The situation worsens as the year-end approaches or when there is a fundraiser in the offing. It is during these times when pulling together contacts and contribution related information to identify the right donor or a prospective sponsor to send an email appeal becomes imperative for a non-profit. By making logical use of the online fundraiser management system one can sail through the situation quite smoothly.

The right donor management system helps to create exactly those targeted lists which are required to ensure that each donor on the list gets an email message that will convincingly encourage their support towards the cause. A good SaaS solution can facilitate an organization in understanding individual donors, and accordingly analyze, categorize, and communicate to the target groups of potential donors.

For smaller organizations with tighter budgets

For cash-crunched non-profits with limited staff and resources, it is always better to opt for free fundraising event management tools that are hosted online. These solutions, which are available to the end users at a monthly fee over the internet, are designed to work differently without requiring substantial upfront investments, and are surprisingly easy to learn.

The biggest advantage of using such tools is that an organization does not need to worry about its timely upgrades, or other maintenance related functions as the actual software is hosted by the vendor. The organizational staff can easily access them from anywhere in the world provided they have internet access.

Less expensive installed fundraiser management systems

Instead of opting for a “rented” database hosted online, a small non-profit organization can also choose to go with a low-cost fundraising event management solution that can be installed by an individual having basic technical know-how. This often requires a bigger upfront investment, but reduces overall cost if the entire lifetime of the system is taken into consideration.

Advanced fundraiser donor management solutions

These fundraising event management solutions have more expansive reporting and donor profiling facilitates that assists bigger fundraising organizations to manage their donor base with convenience. No wonder, they require more implementation resources as well as time to learn and support, while providing greater depth and width of service capabilities that are essential for effective donor management.

Salesforce is one such hosted software solution that offers a broad framework for managing all kinds of data related to the donor base management. Non-profits can make use of the free “Nonprofit Template” to gain unprecedented support for converting potential business leads into donors.