What do you like best?
Raiser's Edge is the best product out there, for a majority of the tasks faced by small and medium non-profit organizations. It is a very useful tool for membership, development, event, and finance departments, to track donors, members, event participants, and gifts. It has benefited from decades of development, and has a robust external market with consultants, plug-in developers, support services.
What do you dislike?
There are many bugs and issues with the software, and it was built on an outdated platform. The underlying platform is now at least 10 years old. In the far past, Blackbaud support agents would collect the bugs, and submit them internally for fixing. Not so long ago, Blackbaud switched direction, to having the user submit feature requests and bug reports, through the Uservoice system. Then, they decided to move to a "Community" system. All along, Blackbaud promised to fix the highest-rated bugs, and implement the highest-rated features. They have not done so. A few bugs here and there got fixed, but bugs that have been there for many years are still there. Most of the bugs are usability issues, that cause many headaches to the actual users. Most of the bugs are results of developers making poor decisions, and not fixing those bad decisions later. When Blackbaud does implement major changes, such as disassociating phone numbers from addresses, those changes are usually nightmares for the users. They are not well tested, poorly implemented, and done with little consideration for the end users. The bread-and-butter software (Raiser's Edge Database View) is outdated, poorly implemented, and needs a serious overhaul, but no plans seem to be in existence. instead of rebuilding their core software (RE, FE, EE, BBNC), Blackbaud has focused on building market dominance, by acquiring other companies. SInce BB has finite resources, the existing software does not get updated - and the new software (from acquired companies) - is either not integrated, or very poorly integrated, into existing software. Blackbaud should have followed their plan to build Raiser's Edge 8, but instead they focused on developing NXT, and the large-institution RE CRM solution. RE CRM does absolutely nothing for the SMB clients, who are still not getting their problems resolved, and are forced to work around the software's limitations, instead of focusing on their mission.
Recommendations to others considering the product
If you need software that doesn't require much customizing, and need a robust support department, The Raiser's Edge is pretty much the only choice. It's ready to go, with little customizing (as opposed to clean-slate products like Peoplesoft or Oracle). It is built for the non-profit market, and has had the benefit of decades of use. On the other hand, Raiser's Edge is very outdated, prone to unexpected bugs, many of which have not been fixed, and is frustrating for all users. Blackbaud has chosen to focus on acquiring its competitors, rather than focus on improving its current products. There seems to be no roadmap for bringing the early-90s software into the 21st century. All attempts to modernize RE are half-baked, and only serve to frustrate the users even more. Until the Raiser's Edge software is rebuilt from the ground up, and all of the reasonable feature requests are added, I cannot recommend this software as is. Sadly, since it's the most widely-used software, in a very small playing field, there may be no alternative. Buyer beware.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
We needed to manage membership, donors, event participants, and honor/memorial tributes. While we were able to bring all of our constituents into one system with Raiser's Edge, it's not an effective system for working with each type of constituent. Another benefit we've realized is using RE as an accounts receivable module for our Financial Edge software. Doing so eliminated double data entry into our previous accounting system and Raiser's Edge. Using Blackbaud NetCommunity, we were also able to build a member website. While this enabled our members to pay dues and make contributions online, the convoluted process Blackbaud designed for these functions is forcing us to pay Blackbaud more money, to fix their badly-designed workflow. We are paying them to improve their own software.