Customizations for Better Blackbaud Software
We pride ourselves on solving your database problems in a way that suits you, whether large or small we can create affordable, bespoke solutions to suit your organizations needs, find out more.
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- What are the different types of software customizations available for The Raiser's Edge?
- Will I have to buy extra modules from Blackbaud and how much will they cost?
- Bespoke - That sounds expensive. We're a charity. Can we really afford bespoke software?
- After the project is finished and we need to make a small change to the code are we able to do that ourselves?
- How do projects work between different countries and time zones?
- Will you always opt for a software customization?
- Does your software work in a hosted environment?
What are the different types of software customizations available for The Raiser's Edge?
There are several types of customizations. There are standalone applications; for example, a program that every night copies data from a webserver into The Raiser's Edge without any user interaction. There are VBA applications; processes that react to events in The Raiser's Edge, e.g. ensure that certain attributes are always entered on saving a constituent. There are plug-ins. These are small standalone modules within The Raiser's Edge in the plug-ins area of the program. They can do almost anything a stand alone customization can do but do require user interaction in order to start them. There are many free plug-ins available on our site.
Will I have to buy extra modules from Blackbaud and how much will they cost?
It depends very much what you want to do. The VBA customizations will need the VBA module. The standalone customizations will require the API module. However plug-ins do not require any extra modules. You can find out more about the different areas at Blackbaud Inc or Blackbaud Europe. As for the cost, at one time the cost of these modules varied depending on the number of licenses you had. However, as for Blackbaud's current policy you would be advised to speak to your Raiser's Edge account manager.
If you own a licence for Blackbaud Netcommunity then the Raiser's Edge API is included free of charge.
Bespoke - That sounds expensive. We're a charity. Can we really afford bespoke software?
Just because it is a bespoke customization does not mean that it is expensive. We have these things down to a fine art. We reuse much of our common code to cut down on development time. If you use software developers that are not experts in The Raiser's Edge and Enterprise CRM then it would take them much longer and cost more.
You also have to weigh up how much it is going to cost versus how much you are going to save by improving efficiency
After the project is finished and we need to make a small change to the code are we able to do that ourselves?
Unlike many developers when we develop a customization specifically for your organization we also supply you with the source code that is well documented. This means that if you have to make small changes to the code you are able to do so without having to call us back in.
How do projects work between different countries and time zones?
With today's technology working remotely is no longer a big issue as it used to be. It is possible to share data and information as easy as it would be if we were sitting in a nearby office. When we work on a remote project we ensure that we overlap the majority of the day with the client. This means that if you are on the west coast of America or Canada we will be available for questions from the start of your working day until about 3.30pm local time.
Will you always opt for a software customization?
No, there are some instances where creating a plug-in or standalone application would just be overkill. There are often ways around a problem that would avoid the extra cost. Sometimes this would involve exporting and importing data instead. Sometimes all that is required is a Crystal Report. In which case we would advise this type of solution.
Does your software work in a hosted environment?
We are big fans of software as a service and make good use of it ourselves we understand the benefits. We would love to be able to offer customizations on all hosted environments but at the current time we are somewhat restricted.
Blackbaud, for example, requires us to hand over our code to be reviewed at our expense for use in their environment. Not only do we feel uncomfortable about handing over our code to a potential competitor we have to pay for the previlage too. Some customizations require us to access the SQL Server database directly. We may need to read from the RE tables or, in the case of Audit Trail, create a table to store the results. At present, none of this is permitted by Blackbaud. If your hosting provider offers you your own virtual server then they may also allow us to install our customisations too.
We hope that the restrictions will change soon and will update this post if and when it does.