Should You Take Advantage of COVID-19 Technology Discounts?

There’s no denying COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on not only nonprofits but all types of organizations around the world.

In the midst of this crisis, however, technology providers have sprung into action to help make their tools more accessible to the wide range of organizations transitioning to remote work or simply trying to operate with less money. This includes broad discounts on popular tools such as Zoom, Slack, Asana, AWS, and more.

(If you want to learn more about the available discounts, check out TechSoup’s Resources for Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19.)

In the midst of this, you may be wondering: is this the right time to switch to <insert tool here> to take advantage of the discount?

Here are 4 considerations for you as you make this decision:

  1. Does it fill a painful gap—either temporary or permanent?
  2. Can you afford the cost of switching right now?
  3. Would you still make this decision if there wasn’t a discount being offered?
  4. Is this the best use of your resources (time, money, people) right now?

Let’s go over each in more detail.

1. Does it resolve a painful problem—either temporary or permanent?

Switching to a new tool should help you resolve a problem. That can be temporary, such as the need for videoconferencing to facilitate remote work, or more permanent, such as a better project management system to keep track of important tasks that are being chronically dropped.

The problem should also be painful enough to warrant a switch. Statements such as “it would be nice if…” don’t indicate a painful problem. A painful problem is something that keeps you up at night.

I specify a painful problem because it can be tempting to switch tools when the grass looks greener (it always is with good marketing) and cheaper to boot. I have personally let the “shiny factor” woo me into switching tools simply because it looks better—not because I have a burning problem to solve.

After all, adopting a new tool comes with a cost, which brings me to our next question…

2. Can you afford the cost of switching right now?

No, I’m not just talking about money. I’m talking about the time and attention of your staff.

Adopting any sort of new technology has a people cost to it:

  • Someone has to set it up and decide how everyone will use it
  • Staff need to be onboarded and trained
  • Your organization must eat a temporary reduction in productivity as people get up to speed
  • Staff need the mental and emotional margin to deal with the friction and hiccups of learning a new tool

In some cases, money may be a factor as well. For example, switching web hosts could save you $100/mo, but it will cost a few thousand dollars for a developer to perform the migration.

3. Would you still make this decision if there wasn’t a discount being offered?

In rare cases, it makes sense to proceed purely on the terms of discounted fees—for example, if the cost of switching is extremely low, and you want to evaluate the product.

But, as I mentioned, switching tools has an opportunity cost (and it’s always bigger than you think). Unless your financial situation is do-or-die, a worthwhile tool switch is going to first improve your life in some way—and if it also saves you money, that’s the icing on the cake.

4. Is this the best use of your resources (time, money, people) right now?

It may be that you’ve checked all the boxes so far, but that still doesn’t mean it’s time to switch tools.

The last consideration to make is if there is something more impactful you can be focusing on right now.

Don’t get me wrong—I love adopting a new project management system as much as the next guy (yes, I actually do). But as a leader, it’s your job to prioritize and focus your resources on the most important issues at hand.

COVID-19 may be presenting you with unique opportunities to fundraise, launch new programs, or apply for grants that are time-limited. Is the opportunity cost of switching to a new tool worth it, considering the other opportunities on your plate?

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all advice for whether it’s worth it to switch tools—but the questions above will steer you in the right direction.

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