Project Management and Implementation for Nonprofits - Part 3

Updated: May 18

The Project Management Institute estimated that as of 2017, organizations were wasting an average of $97 Million for every $1 Billion invested due to poor systems implementation. As a nonprofit, you cannot afford to make a mistake with your systems implementation. This is part 3 of our 4 part blog series that will help your nonprofit unlock its technology potential. Click here for part 2. This is adapted from our e-book. If you would like to access the complete e-book, please click here:


With planning out of the way, it’s time to move on to project implementation. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. This is also where frustrations will mount as you attempt to monitor the various details of the project.

1. Kickoff and Monitoring

You’ll need some sort of formal kickoff for the project. This could be something as simple as having the team start on a specific date. It’s like the starting gun for a track event – from that point, the team will move the project forward. The project manager will need to monitor progress, control the process, and handle budget and schedule-related issues.

2. Track and Report Progress

Projects don’t happen in a vacuum. Your stakeholders need to be kept abreast of things – what’s happening with the project? What milestones have been achieved? Be transparent and accountable in all stakeholder communications.

3. Manage Problems

No project goes completely to plan. Unforeseen issues will crop up. Unplanned complications will occur. The project team must “roll with the punches” here. Being able to accurately manage problems without allowing them to derail the project is critical.

The most serious issues include scope creep (where the project’s scope slowly increases), time slippage (where your project slowly gets farther and farther behind, quality issues (where your processes or deliverables suffer from quality degradation over time), and people problems (where your team and/or stakeholders may not be the right fit).

With the implementation process behind us, it’s time for step three – testing, migration, and training.

The third step along the path to successful project implementation is to test, migrate, and train. Again, we’ll break everything down to make it simpler to follow.


All projects must be thoroughly tested, whether you’re designing new software from the ground up or implementing a new tool to your technology stack. Does it fit? Does it function as intended? Does it create unanticipated challenges for your team members or the organization?

Map the project against your plan – did it achieve the goals? Was the deliverable as expected? Does it offer the features and capabilities users need?

Testing can require multiple rounds, as well. When you believe you’ve identified and fixed a problem, you must retest and may find that you’ve created more challenges than you’ve solved. Test, and then test again.


Once the testing has concluded, it’s time for migration. You might be more familiar with this as “rollout” or “distribution”. Whatever term you want to use, this is when your team releases the deliverables to your users.

Migration can require a lot of time and planning, depending on the scale and scope. You’ll need to consider things like data encryption, what to do if outages occur, maintaining access to data when the new system is in place, and more.

The goal of migration is simple, despite the number of hurdles you’ll need to overcome: successful rollout of the product/system and access to it for users. Of course, those users will need training, which brings us to the next part of this step.


No matter how user-friendly the user interface is or how intuitive the design, you will need to provide training for users. Training may also require the creation of additional assets. Those can include tutorials, how-to guides, FAQs, a user knowledgebase, and more.

Ideally, you will start small – train the core personnel necessary and make sure they have the knowledge, skill, and time to train others who will use the new system once it goes live. That brings us to the fourth step: going live and starting things up.

Next up, going live! Let's dive into this in the final part of the series next week. Make sure to subscribe so that you are notified when the next part is posted!


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