5 Keys to Preparing for Your CRM System Implementation
Tried-and-true tips for planning your CRM implementation
You thought you were ready to implement your CRM system, but there are even more considerations. Here are five quick tips to consider before you get started:
- Take time for discovery. Take time to assess your priorities and what you have in place now:
- Catalogue your various software systems, databases and spreadsheets, and determine what data is stored in those systems — from names and addresses to donor history — so you know what information needs to be moved into your new system.
- Meet with stakeholders to determine the processes they're using, what isn't working for them now and what they need from the CRM system.
- Determine the high-priority processes to address in your initial CRM system implementation.
- Create a timeline and milestones for the project so you're clear on what's happening when, and who needs to be involved.
- Consider your timing. Keep in mind that you have finite staff resources across the organization, and everyone has a day-to-day job to do. Be sure to take into consideration the timing of active fundraising seasons and large program activities, and try to avoid heavy CRM implementation work during those times.
- Take a phased approach. It has taken years for your organization to collect its data and develop its many processes. Likewise, it will take time to represent those data and processes in a single system. Break your implementation into phases to make the project more manageable. But remember, you can work on multiple phases at the same time — just don't try to bite off the entire cross-organizational implementation all at once.
- Start with your core processes first. Get started with the processes that are most representative of your organization and how it works. This helps you establish the "core" processes in your system. If you start with an outlying process that is not fundamental to your organization's day-to-day processes, or that is an exception to how you typically work, you will not see the greatest benefits from your CRM system right away.
- Collaborate and communicate. A surefire way to have your organization resist moving to a new system is to announce the implementation after a few meetings with a couple of people and then notify the organization that it's in place and that everyone needs to start using it. The entire organization needs to be part of the process. Be sure to get all of the stakeholders across your organization involved in the planning process, and keep the entire organization updated on the CRM implementation as it progresses. Helping people to be part of the process ensures greater adoption of the system once it's in place. This, in turn, helps to ensure your organization sees all of the benefits of implementing the CRM system.