> Many business applications <snip>...
> have been developed to address a specific business need, tracking
> customers, tracking donations, tracking network inventory, billing for
> services ... .
Yes, of course. But remember that we're talking about nonprofits here,
and the great majority of nonprofits have no customers, inventory, or
billing. Nonprofits are in the business of providing a service without
making a profit -- and then proving to their funders that the service
provided with reasonable effectiveness and efficiency. Generally each
nonprofit is providing a different combination of services, to various
funders, each with its own reporting requirements, so the whole business
has a tendency not fit within the ASP (Application Service Provider)
model very well.
Of course there are exceptions. Probably the major one is donations
tracking: in many cases, the needs of nonprofits in this regard are
"cookie-cutter" enough. The danger, of course, is that the list of
donors will need to be available to another program -- volunteers, say.
You can download the list from the ASP, but you can't link directly to
> Here's my take on this:
> While disadvantages of "software as a service" may often be ignored
> you do get the best return on investment as long as you stay within
> the core competency of the service.
Yes, that's an essential issue: does the core competency of the service
include your agency's specific needs? Of course, it benefits the service
if you believe this...so the customer must be educated.
As I mentioned in my previous post, there are other good reasons to use
offline software, even when the online software is suitable.
I will go out on a limb and say I believe that certain kinds of nonprofit
needs, such as case management, can rarely if ever be effectively served
by software as a service.
On the other hand, there are many smaller needs for which this is
probably excellent. As I mentioned, I'm working on a specific small
project myself -- small theatres. It uses what I see as the key benefit
of SAAS: it connects directly to the public -- in this case, to buy
Ness Blackbird, President
Willow Mountain Consulting, inc.
*please sign the declaration of the peaceful nation at