Cloud computing seems to be all over the news these days. According to a recent story from Forbes, since 2009, cloud computing spending has been reported to grow 4.5 times the rate of IT spending, and is expected to grow more than six times the amount of IT spending from 2015 through 2020. But what does that really mean? In short, the cloud shifts hosted data from on-premises servers to remote servers hosted on the internet. And, for many organizations that have taken the plunge, adoption of the cloud has transformed the way they budget, prioritize, and perform.

There are plenty of good reasons to be hesitant to move to the cloud, but a lot of the time nonprofit executives simply lack the time to consider the benefits of migrating their financial systems to the cloud. So, even though a recent study by NTEN supported a 25 percent growth year over year for nonprofits’ cloud implementation, a lot of nonprofits are just stretched too thin to give migration a good, solid look. To get a handle on the benefits and if it’s a right move for you we’ve broken down the process of moving to the cloud into three steps:

  1. Identify and weigh the benefits
  2. Recognize potential risks
  3. Establish a strategy

First, take a look at identifying and weighing the benefits. Moving to the cloud means:

  • You’ll have greater ability to access data anywhere and at any time
  • You gain access to specialized IT experts with your cloud service provider, so your team can focus more time on your mission
  • You get best-in-class security tools to protect you and your donors

And that’s just the start! Many organizations have reported spending up to 80 percent of an IT budget on maintaining legacy software. With a cloud migration you can actually increase performance and extend the life of the system by receiving the most up-to-date software. Maintenance will also take less effort, because updates are automatic and organizations always have the most up-to-date version.

Depending on the needs of a nonprofit, the benefits can vary in priority and weight. As a starting point, nonprofit accounting professionals and executives alike need to rate and prioritize the benefits as they suit the needs of the nonprofit.

You should also look for and recognize potential risks. It’s crucial to be well-informed on the topic, and make a case that best serves the nonprofit, its assets, and future roadmap. Some items to consider:

  • The complexity and duration of the migration
  • Training for your staff a new system adds a lot of disorder and frustration so it’s necessary to have a good training plan in place
  • Does the vendor offer long-term support? Will you be able to partner with them to help your staff in times of need?

Finally, you need to establish a strategy there is no one-size-fits-all philosophy with cloud computing migrations. Be sure you can build a case that meets the needs and priorities of your nonprofit, including:

  • Cost analysis between the on-premises and cloud-hosted software
  • Establish a strategy and plan regarding how the migration will support the bottom line and mission of your organization
  • Research and compare services from three to five vendors

Migrations to the cloud can be overwhelming for many of today’s nonprofit professionals. By breaking down the process into three steps – identify and weigh benefits, recognize potential risks, and establish a strategy – a case can be effectively crafted and shared with stakeholders across the organization.

If you’d like to learn more about adopting cloud computing, the benefits of migrating, and tips on the best way to research and plan for a move to the cloud, download our newest whitepaper, Nonprofit Organizations Adopt Cloud Computing.