Using Digital Transformation to Address Organizational Challenges

By Karen Bodach

TECHNOLOGY HAS PLAYED a major role in organizational change and, in many cases, organizational sustainability over the past five years. The rally cry of digital transformation that once primarily meant a new ERP/financial system is now giving way to including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and all that it entails.

In a recent report from FORVIS1, five distinct topics came up as the most challenging that nonprofits face. Looking at these top five challenges, it is evident that they are intertwined. One easily bleeds into the next. Operating expenses are rising, but with the lack of adequate finances, staff is being asked to do more; that is, if you can find them and retain them.

  1. Rising operating expenses
  2. Lack of adequate finances/resources
  3. Limited staff capacity
  4. Difficulty recruiting and retaining quality staff
  5. Economic downturn/inflation

Technology is by no means a silver bullet. There is, however, room for it to play a role in solutioning these challenges. In turn, below is a Tech Top Five for Nonprofits to Consider.

1. Use a technical diagnostic assessment to answer: Do you need new technology, or can usage of the current technology be improved?

Technology is important, but it must be supported by sustainable processes, and by qualified people. In FORVIS’ report, less than 45% said they have a strategic timeline to upgrade their current financial system. One way to consider using dollars wisely is to first engage in a technical diagnostic assessment, before investing in new technology. This assessment should evaluate the current technology stack, review processes and organization roles. One outcome may be that unused current system functionality, refined business processes and aligning staffing address the organization’s needed efficiencies. Another outcome may be the system cannot support the organization’s needs. The technical diagnostic assessment would now serve as a baseline of documented requirements for an RFP, the processes to put into place, and an overview of the roles to support the change.

2. Selecting the Right Software

There are a number of software packages listed in FORVIS’ report, answering the question, Which CRM and which accounting/financial software does your organization use? If you are considering a new software system, this may provide a listing of products to consider. If your organization has completed a technical diagnostic assessment, it can easily lead into a system selection project.

Software implementations not only have a monetary cost to the organization, but they also require time and effort by the staff. Software solutions are an important purchase; one that will impact the organization for years to come. Reviewing the system’s current functionality against documented requirements will ensure a good functional fit. Understanding the roadmap for the product will determine how the product will grow with your organization. Many modern systems offer improved reporting and dashboarding, and are also looking to enhance their products with AI capabilities.

3. Don’t Ignore Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Over 55% of those surveyed by FORVIS reported they are not using AI at this time. Yet CPA.com2 reports, “Just a few months after ChatGPT’s release, 77% of business leaders surveyed cited generative AI (ChatGPT is one of many examples) as tech they expected to have the largest impact on their businesses out of all emerging technologies over the next three to five years.”

While some see AI as futuristic, others see concerns in using AI related to privacy and security. Many large software publishers are aware and share the desire to responsibly generate AI models.

Where might you see AI show up? You may soon hear a term called cobotting, which is “[h]umans and smart tech bringing out the best in each other.3” Microsoft released their app Copilot with the goal of leveraging the power of AI using a chat experience to drive productivity. Other software publishers are also adding similar functionality into their software products to drive useability and productivity. Think of it like a Siri or Alexa for work-related queries.

4. Technology Can Impact Staffing

In Tech. co’s article, “The Impact of Technology on the Workplace: 20244“, they shared statistics around technology and the workplace. In their survey of over 1,000 U.S. business leaders, Tech.co reported that “using more collaboration tools and AI resulted in higher productivity” even if used in a limited capacity. In addition to productivity, Tech.co also found that “59% of people who use AI have greater job satisfaction.” Increased productivity helps organizations do more with less, and greater job satisfaction helps retain employees.

5. Consider the Cost / Benefit of Digital Transformation

If digital transformation is considered a “not yet” in your organization, oftentimes it is due to either funding or budgetary constraints. As noted in FORVIS’ report, rising operating expenses was the number one challenge identified.

Frequently, organizations will review the cost of digital transformation and neglect to review the benefits. Here are some questions to ponder: How could technology allow you to do more with less? Would technology impact the talent your organization could attract and determine if you could retain them? How much time would it save the organization if data was timely and easy to obtain? How would that impact the ability to tell your organization’s stories to customers/donors? Could new technology impact your customer satisfaction, making it easier for them to do business with you?

Digital transformation has a maturation continuum. Cutting edge may not be your style, but to remain sustainable and relevant, organizations need to begin to educate, consider, strategize and move forward. What’s your next step?

Karen Bodach, CPA has been a member of FORVIS’ Technology Consulting practice since 2005. After implementing Microsoft products for 14+ years, she now leads the Sage practice. Prior to joining the Technology Consulting team, Karen was an auditor for the Indianapolis office. Her client focus was on the nonprofit and manufacturing and distribution industries.


3. 13 Workplace Technology Statistics. Mvix. https://mvix.com/blog/workplace-technology-statistics/
4. The Impact of Technology on the Workplace: 2024 Report. Tech.co. https://tech.co/news/impact-technology-workplace-report-2024

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button