Ensuring your CRM supplier knows their business is a non-negotiable

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FundraisingForce works with many nonprofit organisations throughout the year to implement new CRM solutions. One of the things which make or break a CRM implementation is the level of expertise of the staff of your CRM supplier. FundraisingForce call this their bench strength.

Why is CRM staff expertise so critical?

The fact is the product might be amongst the most effective solutions in the market. If the bench strength is weak, your implementation of the solution will be sub-par. Before you purchase any CRM, understand the following:

  • What is make up of the parent company leadership?
    • The make up of the leadership will often times speak volumes about the line staff.
  • What is the financial strength of the parent company?
    • By acquiring the new product, you are entering into a 7-10 year relationship. You want to ensure the parent company will be around for the long-term relationship.
  • Who are the staff who will be assigned to your project?
    • Meet the staff before you agree to the relationship.
  • What is the background of each staff person?
    • How well do they know the nonprofit industry?
      • You likely do not want your organisation to be the nonprofit training ground for the team.
    • How well do the staff know the product they are implementing?
      • While not everyone will have a PhD in the product, you certainly do not want to be product training ground for the team. Ensure someone on the team has at least one year of experience implementing the CRM
    • Understand the succession plan should someone from the team leave the organisation.
      • What transitioning will be done should someone leave the team?
        • There is a high level of turnover on these teams – nearly as much as nonprofit organisations face. Understand the transition plan should someone exit the stage.
      • What sort of on-boarding processes exist?
        • While there are no guarantees your nonprofit will still have the same team across the project, you will want to understand what processes are in place should a transition occur. This on-boarding process should be in place at your organisation and at the CRM parent organisation.

Purchasing a new CRM is the single largest investment for most nonprofit organisations. You are not only purchasing product, but you are purchasing the expertise of the consultants who will implement the CRM. The product part of the decision is 65% of the decision while the consultant aspect is 35%. Organisations spend 90-100% of the time studying product functionality and 0-10% of the time focused on the expertise on the bench. This split needs to closer match the product/consultancy ratio. Spend 35% of the search time studying and interviewing the staff. This will be time well invested.