CRM Implementations – your IT department cannot do it solo

CRMWhat’s the number one mistake you can make when implementing your constituent relationship management (CRM) system for your charitable organisation, school, or university? The number one mistake is to leave it to your Information Technology (IT) department to implement it. Your IT department cannot do it solo and in a silo.

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post titled CRM loses the new car smell quickly. Is a change worth it? In the previous blog, I wrote about a five step process FundraisingForce uses to work with its clients to search for a CRM to meet their requirements. Searching for a CRM is only half the battle. Implementing it, and then maintaining it, completes the picture.

Identifying a project team made up of key users, or subject matter experts (SMEs), to implement the CRM is critical. Too many organisations rely on the IT department to implement the new solution “because it is technology focused”. Sure, involve the IT team on the steering committee and use them when technical tasks arise. But, leave the actual implementation of business processes and business delivery up to your project team/SMEs.

To have your IT department implement the CRM spells D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. Here is why:

  • Your business owners/SMEs understand the finite detail of their business processes. IT teams are good at the back-end technology and infrastructure. Use the IT team for what it is good at and let your business owners drive the implementation and the change required.
    • You would not put a chef in charge of your brain surgery, so why would you expect an IT team to be able to implement business processes in the front end of a solution?
  • SMEs and staff in your departments will be the day-to-day users of the solution. Maintaining ownership of the implementation of the solution with these business owners is critical. To have IT own the CRM simply does not make sense.
  •  Core change management principles suggest change efforts must include plans for identifying leaders throughout the company and pushing responsibility for design and implementation down, so that change “cascades” through the organisation. IT transformation projects, such as the implementation of a new CRM, requires people across the organisation to lead and to get their teams to participate.
  • Involving SMEs broadens the talent on the solution implementation team rather than have the focus of the project simply on the technology.
  • If you want your CRM to be accepted, utilised, and proven to be the right investment, you need user adoption. The way to commence user adoption is to involve your SMEs and core users in the implementation.

Your CRM project will be one of the single largest investments of your organisation. Engage the right talent at the right levels and remember your IT department cannot implement the CRM in a silo.