Nonprofits are always looking for ways to control costs and stretch budgets, but it never ceases to amaze at how many groups overlook some of the juiciest low hanging fruit: Total Cost of Ownership for web-based platforms.
Specifically, actual out of pocket costs across multiple years to properly maintain your website, CRM, Ticketing service, email marketing account, e-commerce platform, etc. is something most groups don’t know, but would be shocked if they did.
I find the term Total Cost of Ownership tends to fall short for most clients and instead, have found better traction when applying a term from the labor relations end of things: legacy costs.
Traditionally, tech providers focused on providing clients with initial project costs and the bare minimum of legacy costs (hosting, SSL certificates, etc.) without really educating them about the ongoing costs to maintain that code.
But as software develops, that approach is ill-suited to the way code evolves.
There’s a spectacular article by Darren Beale at Smashing Magazine that explains what this issue is and why tech providers need to change how they educate clients about legacy costs.
Beale’s article is directed to tech providers but don’t let that stop you. The first half of the article does a superb job at explaining why this issue matters and how organizations end up spending more money than they should on resolving conflicts resulting from a lack of proper code maintenance.
In short, it’s not you, it’s the tech providers.
I was particularly enthusiastic to read Beale’s article because quite a bit of what he includes is at the core of the Everything Tech Providers Wished You Knew About Writing A RFP (Plus The Stuff They Want To Keep Secret) session I’m running at the 2018 Nonprofit Technology Conference (alongside fellow ArtsHacker Ceci Dadisman).
Moreover, one of ArtsHacker’s guest authors, programmer Aaron Overton, touched on several related issues in his post from 2/20/17. It examines the inadvertent mess arts organizations can end up in when they get blindsided by update oriented conflicts via their website platform.
If you really want to get ahead of the curve (and increase your value as an employee!) you’ll begin learning about this critical topic. The good news is it’s super accessible, but it does take a minimum level of dedication to get past making tech decisions solely on upfront costs.