We’re primarily planners, so we tend to focus less on in-house technical skill. We add more value through our breadth of knowledge of how to set up efficient overall systems, than we do by eking out piecemeal improvements through software tweaks.
Having said that, we do have specializations from our experience in certain “core” areas. We would consider ourselves experts in the following and would not typically outsource this sort of work where we have an opportunity to help you make substantial improvements.
NB. We’ve written this page assuming you have some existing familiarity with these packages and want to know about our skills with them. But if you’re looking for help selecting the right software for your needs then please do contact us if you’d like us to make recommendations. We are independent consultants and we do not accept any payment from anyone for recommending any products.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms
Blackbaud The Raiser’s Edge
Since the vast majority of our experience has been in working with nonprofits, we’re extremely strong with all incarnations of the RE (we’ve even directly consulted on the product’s future development).
We know the internals of the backend database as well as we know how to help fundraisers use the interface most efficiently. We can help you get the best out of it, steer you away from the parts you should ignore, and guide you through integrating it into your wider fundraising ecosystem.
MS SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
We’re experts with SQL Server and particularly with designing and implementing reporting. We’re strong with devising complex reporting, including those that require a lot of data prep beforehand.
For organisations who already use this, we’ve helped them consolidate redundant reporting and streamline their overall report commissioning processes.
SAP1 Crystal Reports
We’re very used to working with this venerable tool. We’d make much the same comments as with SSRS except that we find Crystal to be slightly less elegant to work with. But we can certainly help you work around any pain points.
MS Excel/Access/Power BI
We’ll risk a bit of derision here and tout our expertise in these. We find these often-overlooked products to be quite sophisticated. Best of all, many organisations already own these packages and their people are already familiar with the look-and-feel.
We’ve helped a lot of organisations with smaller/medium-sized databases to set these up to provide powerful financial reporting and analysis. We also provide advanced training and support for organisations to use some of the more advanced analysis features and to automate regular processes to reduce error. For those who already have SQL Server or another ODBC-compatible database but lack an easy way to crunch some data; we can help integrate these into your workflow.
If you’re in this position where you need more out of your data but have cost constraints, we can help you get more out of the software that you already own.
MS SQL Server Integration Services
We’re experienced in manipulating data in all forms, particularly in the integration of disparate data sources and in the automation of manual preparation. We’ve used SSIS to construct packages that can carry out this work on a scheduled basis or in response to triggers, or to reduce complicated data prep to just a few clicks.
While we are experts at writing pure SQL, when working with SSIS our approach is to use declarative2 functionality, where possible, to reduce maintenance overheads and simplify handover.
As we mentioned, our value is in the breadth of our knowledge, and while we would not necessarily offer our services purely in the following platforms (there are people with more expertise than us in these), we have worked extensively with the following (and still others) platforms.
We can help you evaluate their suitabilty for your needs, and we understand well how to fit them into your workflow and integrate them into your wider software ecosystem.
- Other CRM platforms (Blackbaud Enterprise CRM, Salesforce.com, MS Dynamics, Siebel, Zoho CRM)
- Other Reporting Tools (Eclipse BIRT, Pentaho Reports)
- Statistics Packages (SPSS, R)
- Document Management Systems (MS SharePoint, MediaWiki and all the other Wikis)
- Project Management/Software Development packages (MS Project, Fog Creek FogBugz, Asana, Atlassian JIRA, etc.)
- Data Warehousing (MS SQL Server Analysis Services)
- Email Service Providers (Adestra, MailChimp, SmartFocus)
- Operating Systems Admin: MS Windows Server (including AD, Exchange), Linux (mainly Debian-derivatives such as Ubuntu)
Contact us if you’d like to discuss further.