Is our non-profit organisation ready for a new CRM?

Searching for a new constituent relationship management (CRM) solution is no easy task. The process, as I outlined in a recent Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine article, requires 10 steps to do it right. There is an important process prior to those 10 steps and that process involves asking the question is our non-profit organisation ready for a new CRM?

Ensuring organisation readiness for a CRM is an important step, which involves people at multiple layers of your organisation. Unless your organisation determines readiness, there is no point to move to a CRM search. In fact, your organisation should not commence a CRM search until leadership has signed off on the organsiation’s readiness to adopt a new CRM.

Who to involve in a CRM readiness assessment

Individuals from various teams at various levels across the organisation ought to participate to determine and sign off on readiness. Those parties include:

  1. Business owners – those end users who will adopt the new CRM.
  2. Information Services – those who will need to support the infrastructure.
  3. Senior Management Team – those who are ultimately responsible for sponsoring the project, including approving budget for the project.

What determines readiness?

There are just two key steps in the process to determine CRM adoption readiness. Those steps involve critical information gathering and assessment and analysis of that information. A gut feel is not good enough. Your organisation needs to determine CRM adoption readiness through objective information and analysis.

Information Gathering

The types of information you ought to gather and assess, includes the following:

  • Data integrity – review the data in your existing CRM and determine if it is in the condition you would want to see it in your new CRM. Think of this as similar to moving houses. Would you want to open the door of the new house and find the new house in the same condition as your present home?
    • Additionally, remember the condition may get messier through a data migration.
      • There will always be data clean-up which needs to occur during Go Live of the new CRM.
    • Document the last time your organisation conducted any sort of data hygiene exercise.
  • Resourcing – the work during a CRM adoption falls to your team as much as it does to the supplier you engage. Do not expect the CRM supplier to do more than 50% of the work. A CRM adoption is a team effort. Document who you have available for the design of the CRM, as well as user acceptance testing and go live activity.
    • Think about whether staff can dedicate 100% of their time during peak periods of the project.
    • Document holiday periods and other key projects, which will compete for your team’s attention.
      • Remember to document public holidays in addition to paid time off.
  • Senior management engagement – determine the level of engagement of your senior management team. Change starts at the top and your project must have the endorsement and the engagement of CEO and his/her management colleagues.
  • Strategic alignment with the organisation – does the CRM transformation support strategic goals of the organisation?
    • Will the CRM assist you to raise more money and to engage more constituents?
  • Budget – indicative pricing for a project needs to be planned for and tentatively approved. There is no point in gathering requirements and going “shopping” for a new CRM if your organisation cannot afford the CRM and implementation services at the outset.
    • Create a contingency budget for those items which are not planned for, but which are common during a project.
    • Budget for a project manager to guide you through the project.
      • A project manager does not have to be a full-time position.
    • Training and ongoing support of CRM – will your organisation train the staff who will use the CRM and will your organisation make ongoing investments in the CRM once the solution is live?

Information Analysis

Create a scoring tool and score the information gathered in order to objectively determine your level of readiness. If your score is not 75% of the possible perfect score, your organisation is not ready for a CRM transition. If you do not achieve a 75% readiness score, spend time to correct the matters. Re-evaluate in 6 months and see if your score improves.

Too many organisations jump to a CRM search and move into a CRM implementation without first asking is our non-profit organisation ready for a new CRM? Spend a month pre-CRM search to evaluate your non-profit organisation’s readiness. You will not regret taking this time to determine readiness. Your CRM adoption project will be more successful as a result.