I’ve spent a lot of my career in consulting and a lot of that time working with clients who’s primary mission is not tech related. At EchoDitto, now Echo&Co, I worked with clients who focused on protecting the environment and social justice guiding them through using Drupal and WordPress to spread their message. At BAO Systems, I worked with INGOs, Ministries of Health and other government agencies working on tracking health information.

One of the challenges and joys of introduction technology to non-tech people is having to explain the level effort they’ll need to expend to make their new technology useful. I started using an analogy that I think helped bridge the gap.

I’d explain buying technology is not like buying a couch, it’s more like getting a puppy. At the beginning there is a lot of work. Potty training, establishing patterns for feeding and going out, trips to the vet for checkups and shots, training on limits such not allowed to grab food from the counter or climbing on the couch. The same exists for most software. Training the team to use the software, setting up policies around updates, sharing information, getting use to the flow of software, setting up forms, figuring out which reports are needed.

Then about a year later you’ve settled into your cadence, you know when to update the site, what it means to apply security updates, how new features work. It’s the same with a dog. Yearly vet visits, feeding, taking it for walks, bathing and grooming, reaching out to a vet when something isn’t right. Less work than the puppy years but still requires work.

It is a paradigm shift from the older model of purchasing where you bought the license for life and only updated if you wanted new features. While it does seems a bit unfair, it’s important to remember that software is connected to the internet will at the very least need security updates as people are actively trying to hack your site. I’ve heard “no one really cares about hacking my site for my data” while that could possibly be true what is true is at the very least hackers want to use to technology to mine Bitcoin or as a jump off point to other targets.

Remember much the like subtle complexity of your organization’s mission and work, the same applies to the complex world of tech.