My colleague found ERP Advisors Group through his brother who had hired EAG to do a software conversion and evaluation plan several years ago. When our company had this project come up and we talked about our desire to hire an outside party, which we haven't always done, my colleague said his brother really enjoyed working with ERP Advisors Group, so, we reached out.
Because we are a fundraising organization and we do investments of charitable dollars, we were struggling to find fundraising software that addresses grant-making and tracks investments. On a monthly basis, we had to allocate all the investment returns, and so we were looking for software that was integrated to do that. Previously, the software we worked with purported to be working together when it was really three different data sources trying to sync. Because of that, we were forced to create a lot of manual workarounds that were complicated and broken.
I would say our needs analysis and selection projects with EAG went as expected because I was optimistic about bringing in an outside partner. A lot of our issues revolved around internal communication and trepidation because of a borderline failed conversion several years ago that caused a lot of conflict within the organization. We tried to create solutions, but it was going nowhere. If we tried to solve it internally, all the old resentments would have come out. Because of all that, it was very helpful to have a third party come in and interview people to let them feel heard. Having a third party show our CEO why a change was necessary and that we could not just upgrade the software we had to meet our needs was invaluable.
We had a very balanced evaluation because of ERP Advisors Group. Shawn was helpful and very straightforward, and it was interesting having him as our lead person because when you compare him to other people, they're great but they don’t bring the same presence and experience. He has done this a lot and he understood our company and the players, which was a big positive for us. He was also especially able to have very candid conversations with software company executives, managing to be direct in a way that didn’t hurt the relationship. It was great to have ERP Advisors Group act as a middleman for those types of conversations.
My organization, for better or worse, really loves external affirmation of decisions; external validation and accreditation are important. Since people had a disastrous time with the last conversion, doing another one was kind of a touchy subject. Being able to share evaluations and visuals was very helpful. My company had created a committee charter defining what success should look like at the end of the project. Having the visuals and timelines from ERP Advisors Group was very helpful, as well, when we made the case for another conversion. Although we had to jump through many hoops and meet with many people to carry on, Shawn was able to help guide us through this. He brought so much knowledge and professionalism to our proposals.
The systems we were on had many problems that weren’t getting fixed or being integrated well. They were also not specifically built for grant-making and investing, which is what we needed them for. The software we ended up selecting was made for community foundations, and it can keep up with the many functions we required of it.
Our implementation was also successful. We had an internal project manager, and we thought it was best to coordinate it ourselves, but we did have Shawn there to help us maintain the relationship throughout the process. Shawn did project check-ins to make sure it was all going well, and if we hit a bump in the road, I could talk to him, and he would help us work it out. Once we had the software, it didn’t take too much headache to get it working, with maybe two weeks that we had both the old and new system together.
Our experience with EAG was so positive that I would definitely be willing to recommend ERP Advisors Group to another company. I have recommended them once or twice to other community foundations already.