Life with vendors
How are relations between not-for-profit with IT vendors?
“The majority are pretty good,” says Paula Carleton, CIO for the age and life care operation, Baptist Community Services (BCS). “We work with them so they understand the specifics of our operation — we have site visits for the account managers.”
She admits to pushing the NFP button to get the best response and pricing, and “in most cases the vendors are willing to play ball”.
Paul Ramsbottom, managing director of ASi, which sells the iMIS membership and fundraising software exclusively to NFPs, says it’s a great sector to work in, but from a vendor’s point of view the market is very competitive. Nonetheless, ASi sells product to about 40 per cent of the sector.
“There’s special pricing [from vendors] for the broad market, and there are good deals outside of traditional suppliers,” he says, citing Google offering applications on the basis of a zero per cent fee on transactions, although this is an overseas incentive. Compare this with the industry standard in Australia of a 5 per cent fee on transactions.
Carleton has a problem in this vendor pricing area. “We have an issue with Microsoft,” she says. “They no longer seem to recognise BCS for ‘charity’ pricing of licences and apps; they’re offering normal commercial pricing. This is a problem for us as Microsoft is pervasive, it’s core, so it’s not just in its own products but others built on it as a platform.”
She adds that the supplier is looking into restoring government pricing, but that would still be higher than before. “Consequently, we’re looking at alternatives such as Google, Cloud and open source, but we need to be aware of changes to the interface that could be a problem for our users.”
Read Part 1 of CIO Australia’s not-for-profit series, the motivation difference.
Read Part 2 - the similarities between the not-for-profit and commercial sectors.
Stay tuned for part 4 - the technology issues faced by not-for-profits