This may be a critical consideration for those that are larger or mid-tier clients currently on RE that are trying to make a critical system and platform decision. RE is a legacy product, NXT is the new product – not yet 100% complete, ECRM is the enterprise product for large enterprise customers – and typically an expensive proposition.

NXT is a work in progress. Lots of activity going on, but there’s a lot to do. Blackbaud understands that we need to keep the lights on. What’s the state of NXT today and what should large RE customers consider when thinking about migrating to the new platform?

Some of the Complexities in Your Environment that may be Critical to Your Decision

Customized Reporting. One critical piece is your reporting environment.

NXT does not currently have the ability to have a stand-alone customized data warehouse. The timeframe for this functionality is likely 1-2 years out as the API and decisions around the API are finalized and implemented. Hopefully this would be sooner than later, although no specific decisions were announced on this.

NXT will have more of a prescribed approach using the announced Nonprofit Intelligence built directly into the product and will be exposed through the graphical components of the new interface as different roles are released in the product.

Read-only data access will be going away. It won’t work in a cloud environment. Odata is being discussed, but no decision on this yet. “Still a lot of research to do, no time horizon on this yet.” “Focusing on getting the transactions in and out of the system as opposed to the bulk transfer – still at least 6 months to complete this piece.”

Customizations and integrations. If you have customizations, you’ll likely need the API and/or you may want to work with a vendor to re-develop.

Sky API will be your solution as it matures and becomes more extensible. The vendor marketplace will hopefully expand as more vendors get into the ecosystem, so there may be more add-ons available where you don’t have to build and maintain yourself. There are currently no plans for a script writing engine for NXT compared to the VBA like features.

The current Plugin model will be discontinued. There are about 50 or so plugins that will be integrated into NXT as functionality. If you’re not sure of your plugin will be included you’ll need to get in touch with Blackbaud or other vendor and have this re-developed using the API.

Custom Crystal reports. Within Raiser’s Edge will work as is. Outside NXT – you’ll need to download into an external file in order access via the Crystal report.

Data loading. If you’re not using Importomatic to do importing you should. This already works with NXT within the Citrix environment within the database view.

NXT currently using ftp to get the files into the Citrix environment. This may be a lot slower than what you’re currently using and depending on file sizes, could affect your time windows.

Data exporting. For items such as exporting to a file share on a local network – you’ll need the API.

Single sign on. Not currently supporting active directory integration. Lots of technologies for this that will need to be considered before a standard can be agreed on for NXT. “Blackbaud is not ready for this yet, but realizes that this is critical to getting into the product.”

Test environments. Currently won’t be available. No web view for test batches for example. This is another work in progress. Test environments in the hosting environment currently can’t be loaded. Hopefully this will be a more informed consideration going forward as these are essential for most organizations. Audit log, undo capabilities, backup and restore are being looked at.

Managing multiple sites with a single instance. Multisite administrator is a log easier. When you log into NXT, you can select the database using a dropdown. If you’re currently rolling data up from multi-sites, NXT does not currently do this and you’ll need to utilize the API.

Integration of Outlook, Office 365, gmail. Part of the plan for NXT.

Queue (job scheduling utility.) Not yet available in NXT. Scheduling function yet to be built.

Different Licensing Model. Your overall cost of ownership will change.

Schema Changes. Initial strategy is not to fix RE schema flaws, but to first migrate the majority of customers before making wholesale changes.

International Hosting. Being rolled out in Canada next year.

Wrap up.

Work in progress the key nomenclature here. Know where you are and where you need to be. Make the jump when this all converges, or when the balance of paying/developing customizations lines up with the benefits of the new platform.

Let Blackbaud know of your needs particularly around the Sky API.

You’ll need to consider your goals for migration:

  • Become more data driven?
  • Drive accountability?
  • Mold the system around unique processes?
  • Improve your performance?

This type of approach, coupled with current and medium term limitations of Raiser’s Edge/NXT will help drive your decision as to whether this or one of Blackbaud’s other products such as ECRM or Luminate CRM which may be better choices.

Blackbaud has released in NXT Readiness Assessment plugin that captures information and provides a summary report of some statistics that will help with your decision.