Reducing complexity: Mike Gianoni is streamlining Blackbaud’s software portfolio

 In Constituent Relationship Management (CRM), CRM Technology

This is part two of a three-part series based on an interview with Blackbaud CEO Mike Gianoni. Read the introduction that links to all three parts in the series.

Our conversation with Mike turned to discussing a significant challenge for Blackbaud: its complex product portfolio.

If you haven’t experienced the challenge of understanding Blackbaud’s software landscape things can get very complex, very quickly. Mike acknowledged that there are still too many pieces, but he’s excited to rethink about how their software fits together and integrates with the broader nonprofit technology ecosystem.

“We Will Make the Products You Buy Better”

While talking to Mike helped us better understand the current CRM landscape, what is most interesting is how he envisions that landscape changing.

To illustrate, Mike drew a comparison to how banks approach mobile banking. Banks don’t reinvent the wheel, they use building blocks to create a seamless experience for their customers.When they build an app, they don’t start from scratch. Banks license the software to take pictures of checks for deposits and they license the software to make bill payments.

[testimonial author=”Mike Gianoni, Blackbaud.”]”Remember BASF’s tagline ‘We don’t make a lot of the products you buy, we make a lot of the products you buy better’? Why can’t we be like that? Why can’t our products incorporate things that make nonprofits lives better, and to also make third-party products better?”[/testimonial]

Mike envisions the same approach for Blackbaud products. Nonprofits, ultimately, don’t care how the products function or what vendor makes the functionality, they want a vendor to package technology that empowers them to serve constituents, raise more money, or drive better outcome measurement.

How is Mike going to do this? In the 3rd post in this series (slated for release July 12th), we will talk about how the SKY architecture can help facilitate this, but in the near term Mike seems to know that the first place to start making things work better is within Blackbaud’s own ecosystem.

A Guide To Fundraising and CRM at Blackbaud

Clients frequently ask us: “Which Blackbaud fundraising and online engagement products are right for my organization?” The truth is that in recent years we did not know what to tell them. Blackbaud had many starts and stops in product development. Legacy products frequently were not (or could not be) well-integrated with newly acquired ones. And it was very difficult to make heads or tails of the current product offerings – let alone the future roadmaps.

Below we offer you a guide to how you might determine your place in the overall Blackbaud fundraising and CRM product landscape. A few caveats:

  1. We are not endorsing any of these products because we are fiercely independent and will do similar interviews with other software executives in the future.
  2. Don’t use this chart by itself to pick a product. No blog post, white paper or comparison chart (no matter how detailed) can inform you well enough to make a product selection. Product selection is much broader than just the features and functions of any product.
  3. Our diagram is not comprehensive of every product and the picture changes frequently. This diagram highlights the ones that seem most prominently featured on the Blackbaud roadmap. There are nuances to every product and every nonprofit that will very likely alter your specific pathway.

Landscape of Blackbaud CRM SoftwareInterpreting Blackbaud’s Software Landscape for CRM

There are perhaps 3 broad things that we would choose to highlight to understand this landscape.

  1. A new direction for The Raiser’s Edge: NXT. After years of false starts, the commitment to Raiser’s Edge is clear. Raiser’s Edge NXT is the most notable use of the SKY platform. The release RE NXT, thus far, has been well executed and promised deadlines have been met.
  2. The product choice for large organizations is Blackbaud CRM and Luminate Online. For large nonprofits, or ones with multiple chapters, Blackbaud will almost certainly recommend Blackbaud CRM. For direct-mail intensive organizations, Blackbaud CRM is paired with Blackbaud Direct Marketing, if necessary. And Luminate Online is the online engagement tool that goes with it.
  3. If you have mission, program or case management needs, there is currently one choice: Luminate CRM. None of Blackbaud’s other products are built with that focus. And the good news is that Mike told us that there are plans for an integration between Salesforce and Raiser’s Edge slated for Q3 of 2016.  As with any roadmap, we will count our chickens only after they have hatched.

Multiple products are being recast using the SKY architecture, not just RE NXT. As of right now, other products are either on the new platform, partially on it, or slated to be including Financial Edge, Luminate Online, eTapestry and others. Stay tuned for the next blog post which will share some more details on the SKY UX.

We’re Hopefully Optimistic

Irrespective of how you feel about Blackbaud’s software or Blackbaud as a company, the prospect of a more cohesive roadmap and streamlined offerings is welcome news. There are many challenges that nonprofits want and need to tackle but figuring out how Blackbaud software works together should not be one them. Mike understands this and that is cause for optimism.

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