Uniting Your Divided Data: How to Make CRM a Reality in Your Organization (Video, Podcast, Transcription)
View this video directly on YouTube (and subscribe to our channel!)
Listen to the Podcast
Like podcasts? Find our full archive here or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Or ask your smart speaker.
Uniting Your Divided Data: How to Make CRM a Reality in Your Organization
More than ever, the data associated with constituents and how they engage with your organization are strategic assets worthy of investments. This webinar covered how to define CRM for your organization, the current state of CRM technology options, common challenges in organizational adoption of CRM, and how to get your organization aligned and excited for the work ahead.
View the video discussion between Kyle Haines, co-Founder of Build Consulting, and Watt Hamlett, Watt Hamlett Consulting
As with all our webinars, this presentation is appropriate for an audience of varied IT experience. Build is passionately vendor-agnostic.
Kyle Haines: Hey everyone, welcome to Build Consulting’s…I think it’s March! – March 2022 webinar Uniting Your Divided Data, how to make CRM a reality in your organization. We are incredibly excited for today’s webinar. We’re going to do introductions in a moment. This is being recorded for those of you who don’t want to take copious notes. Our goal is to keep the webinar about 25 to 30 minutes long, one because we know probably post pandemic people are very tired of webinars, and we want to leave time for questions, but along the way, if you have any questions, please use the Q&A function. We will try to keep an eye on it, answer questions along the way. We definitely want this to feel interactive and Watt and I are committed to trying to answer questions and interrupt each other as much as possible to keep this as interactive as possible.
Watt Hamlett: Absolutely.
Kyle Haines: Yes. So as an introduction, I’m Kyle Haines, I’m a partner at Build Consulting. This topic is especially interesting to me because I started my career in CRM at nonprofits. And so I always enjoy the opportunity to talk about my perspective and experience, and I definitely over the years have come to value Watt’s experience and perspective. So with that, I’ll introduce Watt and after that we can get started.
Watt Hamlett: All right. Thanks Kyle. So yes, I’m Watt Hamlet. I’m the founder of Watt Hamlett Consulting. I work with nonprofits as an independent advisor on all things Salesforce. So whether organizations are considering making a move to Salesforce or evaluating their next move with the current implementation I serve as their guide and advocate to help them navigate the Salesforce may ask and I know today’s webinar is not about Salesforce, but that’s kind of the perspective that I bring to the table. I’m really, really happy to be joining Build for this.
Kyle Haines: Thanks Watt. So a few things, or I shouldn’t say a few, I think there’s only two things before we get started.
One is that just a couple disclaimers Build Consulting, we describe ourselves as being passionately independent. So today we may talk about specific solutions oftentimes after the webinar vendors reach out and they’re like, hey, you didn’t talk about our solution, we do that. This is not an endorsement of certain software. This is not to be comprehensive in terms of talking about every single approach or vendor out there. When we do talk about specific vendors or do talk about specific solutions, it’s really just as an illustration.
The next one is for those of you who are newer to Build Consulting, we use this formula all the time. And the idea here is that we really believe that by taking new technology and layering it on top of an old organization, all you end up with is an expensive old organization. And today is really about creating the environment and setting the stage so that if you do make investments in CRM and investments in CRM data, that you don’t end up becoming an expensive old organization.
So, with that, let’s get into the content for today’s webinar. And I think what you were going to start here if I remember.
Watt Hamlett: Yeah. So we just want to make sure we’re defining terms here at the outset. Probably everybody on this call has a general sense of what CRM is, but we’ll just go ahead and sort of state our definition for the record. So CRM is an acronym stands for customer or constituent relationship management. I think of it first and foremost, as a set of business practices, a way of doing things and with, within an organization for managing relationships with constituents and other types of data, but most often CRM is thought of as the software itself. And that’s really the definition we’re discussing today.
So if you are in an organization looking to unite data within your organization, by using type of software called CRM, what are the considerations at hand? What are the things you need to be thinking about? What are the things you can do to be successful in doing that? And we just point out that in a nonprofit context, the kind of data you’re managing could be related to people. So your donors, members, program participants, event registrants, volunteers, et cetera, as well as transactions, so donations you receive or event registrations, they could be one-on-one interactions. They could be mass engagement. So email, direct mail, that sort of thing. And CRM is quite often also about not just storing your data, but giving you ways to work with it. So being able to better manage processes related to data, as well as being able to both monitor the work of your organization, as well as measure it. And that’s where things like reporting and analytics come into play and are quite often part of what organizations are looking to accomplish when they adopt a CRM.
Kyle Haines: It’s always amazing to me how that definition keeps expanding and growing and growing, growing compared to when I started in nonprofits.
Watt Hamlett: So our approach for today will be looking at this framework. There are three pillars to it. There is the first step, which is defining. So this is as an organization agreeing on what you mean when you say CRM, the second pillar is around deciding. So what, what’s the realm of technology that you are including in your definition of CRM and that you want to evaluate or make sure is part of the picture as you move forward with CRM. And then the third category is driving. So what are the specific things you can do to bring about your particular vision or definition with the particular technologies that you’re, you have in mind or that you’re considering.
Kyle Haines: So I think I was going to take the first section. And as we talk about defining, I think what you’re going to hear a lot today is us talking about CRM specifically. And I think that it’s an important underlying assumption as we talked about this. And Watt touched on this earlier is this CRM is a rich source of data. And for many nonprofits, that is the case where, whether it’s program participants, whether it’s volunteers or donors, our hypothesis, as we move this conversation, this presentation forward is that for your organization, CRM data is incredibly important.
As a first step, when we thought about this framework, we thought about what approach is going to make the most sense for your organization. So there’s a couple different ways that we thought about it. One is more of a top down approach where senior leadership or a group of senior leaders have identified CRM as something that’s worthy of them investing in. And then the second one is more of a bottom up approach. And we oftentimes encounter organizations that CRM is handled in more of an organic and siloed way. So development might have a fundraising solution. The program team might have a different solution. The volunteer management team might have a different solution. And so, we think that there could be as you think about CRM, two different ways of thinking about that. Watt, anything you would add there?
Watt Hamlett: I would just invite folks on the webinar today to just drop in the Q&A panel, if your organization is considering CRM or has adopted CRM, which of these approaches did you take? Was it more of a top down centralized approach or was it more, sort of a more bottoms up distributed organic siloed approach? Just love to, to get some, some thoughts on the Q&A there, we’ll check back on that in a minute.
Kyle Haines: I love the idea of distributed as well. That’s a great way to describe it. Watt, I forget, was this a slide I was going to cover? I’m sorry.
Watt Hamlett: Sure.
Kyle Haines: Awesome. So some of the things that we see when organizations get to a point that perhaps they’re ready to look at a top down approach, and I think realistically, very few organizations start with an organization-wide approach to CRM. It does sort of happen in a more distributed or organic way. And so what are the things that can actually drive people to thinking about, what does it look like to take a more holistic or top down approach to defining how CRM and CRM data works?
The first one was really Watts’s contribution, which I thought was awesome. And this idea that sometimes your constituents feel it, whether they’re having to log into different system, or it doesn’t seem like you really know them that well, you’re not communicating with them around things they’ve expressed interest in or participated in. So they’re feeling it. The next one, which is central to today’s webinar is that you have an inability to access data and access data across systems.
So I think it’s really important here to draw a distinction, not between not, sorry, draw a distinction from individual systems where you feel like the data kind of is not great, that comes out of that system. It doesn’t work particularly well. We’re thinking in this way about lots of systems and the inaccessibility of combining that data, aggregating it, understanding it and acting on it. And then lastly, at least what we hear a lot at Build is just this idea of fatigue that we have so many systems, it feels like they do repetitive duplicative stuff. It’s expensive. I don’t know what does what that can be a real driver for a top down approach.
So when doing a top down approach, there are some opportunities and there’s some challenges. The things about doing a top down approach is oftentimes it’s an opportunity for you to look at sort of the entire ecosystem and figure out how are we going to solve this holistically. Another opportunity is that when done well and framed well, it can create this organizational impotence where people feel as though they’re working towards something larger than perhaps their own individual needs, team needs, departmental needs. When communicated well, it also creates a shared understanding why this is important, what’s driving in this. And then lastly, oftentimes it leads to easier data collection, easier data analysis, reporting and some of those types of things. It can also be challenging because it often involves getting agreement across multiple teams. It can be expensive. And we’re going to talk about that later. And usually there’s a corollary between things that are expensive, also being time consuming. It also requires this idea of a constant care and feeding around a roadmap. So it requires an ongoing adjustment to roadmaps and looking at what are the things we’re working on? Are they aligning to organizational strategy? Are we focused on the right things? And then it can also be a big commitment in a single direction.
Watt, anything you would add?
Watt Hamlett: No, I don’t think so at this point.
Kyle Haines: Some of the things we see around a bottom-up approach is that it’s a very easy way to meet the specific needs of a department. The require, the set of requirements as much or less, sorry, much, there are fewer requirements is what I’m starting to say compared to trying to understand the requirements of a whole organization. It’s a way to address an emerging opportunity in an entrepreneurial way. So we just want to test this out. We have a program, we want to see if this software works well and then you can perhaps take a different approach later. The other one is that, and I just encountered this recently, there’s an organization, at least for the consultants seemed very obvious that they should take a top down approach and that CRM needed to be something the whole organization was thinking about. In meeting with departments we don’t think everybody saw it that way. And so it would just take a large change effort to get people to see the value of it. And we didn’t happen to see what the ROI on that was. So that can be another reason to think a bottom up approach. We’re just not ready. We have other priorities. There’s other things that are important. Watt I see a couple chats and a question.
Watt Hamlett: Yeah. What, Kyle, go ahead and go ahead and tackle the next slide. And then we we’ll come back to the comments that have been shared.
Kyle Haines: Oh, good. You’ve been facilitating the comments in the QA in the background.
Watt Hamlett: I have.
Kyle Haines: Nice.
So some of the opportunities, I talked about some of these being quick and nimble being entrepreneurial, and you can also take a best-of-breed approach where the program’s team has the application or the software they need. The development team has the tools they need and let’s figure out how that data, we can manage that data more effectively. Some of the challenges associated with that are that you’re really only looking at the requirements for a small subset of people. There are governance considerations. We do encounter people who do have software, where there is a lot of overlap. It can also impact the constituent experience. So we’ve seen instances where there’s multiple logins for constituent facing system, because it’s not a single system. And you realistically, typically this is a short-term approach. Eventually, we find that people need at some point, there’s a moment, inflection point where they need to look at something more holistic.
Watt Hamlett: Yeah. And that marries up really well with one of the comments that came in from Charlotte. So she said, I recall back in 2000, our org, good long memory there, Charlotte, our organizational CRM was bottoms up, distributed organic, all departments bought whatever they needed, but then things got chaotic and we had to consolidate and CRM strategy became top down.
Right, Kyle, I think how you and I both see of that situation quite often where organizations kind of let a thousand flowers bloom either because they want to give, kind of the power to the people or just because they’re, they’re not in a mindset or have the ability to be more consolidated or centralized about it, but then they get to a point where it gets chaotic as Charlotte said. And now you suddenly, you need to start to impose some kind of order and plan on the approach you’re taking.
And Jill said, said something, well, Jill said something interesting. She said, we have a push for new CRM from both the top down and the bottom up, but I’m not sure those two sides are aligned.
So Kyle, what do you do then?
Kyle Haines: I think we, we’re going to chat about some of those things later. I mean, I think that those are important things to surface and oftentimes this is not a pitch for Build, but before we get into even picking the technology, we do an assessment and sort of uncover that, because I think that’s an important thing is to make sure leadership is aligned and that leadership understands the perspective of the people who are going to be expected to make these changes. Right? And so, thinking about how are you going to solicit their input? How are you going to get their perspective? I think in these projects, it’s important, I’ve been saying recently, I think my post pandemic saying is everyone should get a voice. Maybe everyone doesn’t get a vote, but how do you approach a project like CRM that has significant change management considerations? Making sure people had a voice into what their experience and perspective was.
Watt Hamlett: Yes, and Robin just asked, how do you assess if the organization is even ready for initial change? I think we’ll, I think we’re going to be touching on that in the third pillar of our framework.
Great. Thanks Robin.
All right. So, that’s the first pillar is defining, defining what CRM will mean to the organization. We’ve talked about, you can kind of come at that from a top, top down or a bottom up approach or some sort of hybrid. And that’s a very important step in the process. So the next pillar we’re going to talk about is, and what’s the technology that’s needed to support the vison. And Kyle, if you go to the next slide we have a few categories here. Again, we, there’s hundreds, if not thousands of tools that nonprofits can use to meet their various needs. And so we thought it might be helpful just to kind of talk about some categories of tools. And by our count, there’s about four different broad categories of tools.
So, the first is best-of-breed. And by that we mean tools that are generally designed to do one thing. So a donor database or a volunteer system, or an email marketing system. And these are quite often where organizations start, particularly if all they’re taking is a bottoms up approach where my particular department, my team needs a tool to do X. We go out and find that tool and we use it. And maybe no one else in the organization is using it, if they’re even aware of it.
The second category of tool is, is an all in one. So these are systems that combine multiple functions into a single package, and these can sort of exist in different domains. So there are all in ones that exist just for digital engagement. So in the nonprofit world tools like Luminate Online or Engaging Networks or Springboard where you can do online fundraising and advocacy and online events and maybe email marketing all out of a certain all over the single tool set. And then they’re all in ones that, encompass broader functions. So this would be tools like Every Action or Virtuous that combine both a donor database. So a way to centralize your constituent data, as well as a set of engagement tools.
The third category is what we’re calling a platform approach. And this gets us into categories of tools like Salesforce or like Microsoft, that natively offer certain capabilities around constituent data management, plus give you the ability to either build out your own unique capabilities on top of those platforms or integrate them with other tools such as best-of-breed tools or even all in ones.
And then the final category is a little bit different in that it’s not a type of CRM per se, but it’s more recognizing the fact that when organizations reach a certain size and really a certain volume of data or systems, they need to look beyond a single system as a way to manage that. They need some additional tools and capabilities to better orchestrate connections among systems and or surface the kind of monitoring and measuring in their data that they, that they need to get to.
So at the risk of oversimplifying, which maybe we already have, we also are suggesting that best-of-breed in all of one and best-of-breed and all in one tend to align more to a bottoms up approach, whereas platforms and data hubs tend to be more relevant from the top down approach. This isn’t always true. You know, certainly I’ve seen examples of organizations that are taking a bottom up approach, but they start with the platform or organizations that take a top down approach, but they’re very focused on certain best-of-breed tools. So this isn’t meant to sort of be prescriptive, but more sort of describe what we see as the way these different tools tend to align with different definitions or approaches to CRM.
So beyond that then when you think about the things that are available in the nonprofit sector as tools, what are some of the trends that, that we’re seeing among, the things that are being offered? And we came up with three for today’s presentation.
The first is that vendors are consolidating through acquisitions, probably the prime and maybe longest standing example of that is Blackbaud, you know they’re still the single largest company that’s solely devoted to nonprofit software and for a very long time, their strategy has been one of acquisition. I used to work for a company called Covio. They were acquired by Blackbaud and even up until the beginning of this year, Blackbaud is still expanding their offerings by acquisition. If you look at their website today, there’s eight different categories of products you can buy from Blackbaud.
And many of those have come by way of acquisitions, but they’re not the only one, every action we’ve mentioned already. They’ve been around since 2013, but in the past two or three years, they’ve really accelerated their acquisition of other tools in the space. So now, they own Salsa and BSD tools and a bunch of other solutions. And then just towards the end of last year, they themselves were acquired and consolidated with two other technology companies, Social Solutions and Cyber Grants. So you’ve got these fish that keep swallowing smaller fish, Virtuous also just made an acquisition of a tool called Domo. So that’s one of the things that seems to be, it’s been going on for a while, but the pace of those seem to be accelerating now, and that can be very disruptive for nonprofits, if you’re on one of those tools and it gets acquired, it raises a lot of questions. But it also can be good news for customers because if you’re looking for particular solution, now there’s a better chance that a single vendor can provide the things you’re looking for. So that’s trend number one.
The second is that vendors are expanding what they do. So the example I have here is, is with Salesforce that for most of Salesforce’s history in the nonprofit space they’ve just been, essentially reselling the corporate tools that the larger Salesforce company makes for the general marketplace. But in the past two years now, Salesforce.org, which is the part of Salesforce focused on nonprofits and higher ed has introduced their own paid products into the nonprofit market. My count is, they have six now that you can buy that are specifically built for nonprofits. Microsoft is another example. They have started to focus on their own products and offers specifically for the nonprofit sector.
And then the last trend is, is simply new competition because of new firms coming into the market. Kyle, I wonder your thoughts on that. I think you’re involved and Build in particular is involved in helping organizations that evaluate all kinds of technology. What have you all seen there in terms of the number of options available for organizations?
Kyle Haines: Well, unfortunately you stole all of my good examples of things that had come into the market recently. I mean, I think it’s like a full time job, in some ways keeping on top of these. I think when I started, you mentioned Blackbaud. They were the predominant vendor in the market and it’s gotten to the point that we sort of track vendors in a spreadsheet because there’s that many of them.
And one of the things I was going to add Watt, that I think is interesting is the number of entrance that are backed by VC funding. And so that, I always wonder when we’re doing a selection, if a company is backed by a VC, what is the long-term plan? It’s probably the VC wants to get out of there at some point. And usually that comes through a sale or an acquisition by a larger vendor. So I think that’s an interesting trend for people looking at vendors that are newer understanding who, what is their funding source and how might that impact them if, and how does the nonprofit feel if their solution is going to be acquired by a larger vendor or sold to another VC firm that has a different idea.
Watt Hamlett: Right, yeah, yeah.
Kyle Haines: There is a question Watt, in the chat or in the Q&A rather up around a rule of thumb for a tipping point between the platform approach versus the data hub. What is it that look like if you have lost the goals for growth? Is it as simple as starting with the platform until your organization, it doesn’t fit any longer? Or can that approach also meet the needs of large organizations? And I thought I would start because I had the benefit of reading the question and already knowing what it was. I think what Watt shared is, and I agree with this is that in our experience, the platform approach is for larger organizations. And I don’t know if this works, but I think oftentimes when we’re doing selections, the question we ask is, are you in a place where you want a solution you can grow into, or do you have a solution that you want to grow out of?
And in growing into something looks different than growing out of something. And so I think that depending on the relative costs, that oftentimes is the biggest question growing into something tends to cost more because you need more support from external vendors. So I didn’t really answer the question about the rule of thumb per se, but the question I would put back to the organization is which is more comfortable to you growing out of something and knowing you might need to make a switch down the line or making the investment now with something that’s going to grow with the organization. Watt, I’m curious, your thoughts.
Watt Hamlett: Yeah, I like that. And I would just add that if you are a very large organization and we mean like hundreds of millions of dollars in budget or a large federated organization things like that. And you’re kind of taking a top down approach to introducing CRM, a data hub’s going to be on the table for you. You’re going to want to have that in the picture, if you’re something less than that in terms of size and scales and organization, you’re probably okay to just start with a platform and focus on kind of the core CRM elements of that. And then over time, if you find that, let’s say your data analysis needs exceed those that your CRM can provide, you can always introduce additional capabilities through external business intelligence tools, things like Tableau or PowerBI. And again, the exception to that would be if, for some reason your organization maybe in and of itself, isn’t huge, but you’re dealing with really large volumes of data. I’m working with an organization right now and they’re in and of themselves, they’re under a hundred staff, they’re not that large, but they, but they do deal in very large data sets. So they know as they bring CRM to the organization, they’re going to have to start with having some larger capacity for data management and analysis as part of that solution from the get go.
Kyle Haines: Yeah. And I mean, I think in addition to large data sets, maybe the diversity of data sets that if your organization’s hitting the point where you need to do analysis and reporting, and you don’t want everything to have to land in your CRM, to be able to do that, that’s another inflection point where you might need a data hub where you say, look, we want to look at Google Analytics, the data alongside engagement data, which sets in a marketing automation tool alongside CRM. And we don’t want to have to bring it all into one place, excuse me, and that analysis, this needs to be done on a regular basis. That’s another instance. So it’s not just the volume of the data. I think also the complexity of the data, my experience might drive that decision.
Watt Hamlett: Yeah. And in fact, if we go to the next slide these are some, some trends we’re seeing in general. I think we’ve touched on a couple of these already and just answering that question, but and we’re sharing these by way of saying, as you get into thinking about how to improve your organizations data management. These are things that you may be already aware of or things that you at least want to kind of keep in mind that, that may need to get addressed as you go about doing your CRM, CRM implementation.
So the first here is that, all of the systems that we’re talking about, whether they’re best-of-breed, all in one platforms, they’re all generating data. And so organizations are in, the more tools you have or the bigger your programs, the more data you’re generating. And so now organizations are having to think through what data is really truly worth keeping, what’s worth surfacing to users? What’s worth measuring and monitoring and what isn’t? And this is partly about trying to separate the signal from the noise so that you can focus on what really matters, but it also relates to our second point here, which is that organizations are being confronted with increasing storage costs for data. So again, this is particularly true in the platform world, Salesforce, Microsoft, you are paying for not only for the functionality you’re paying for the privilege of storing your data in their clouds. And so you do need to be mindful that again, once you get to a certain size and scale you may exceed the limits that are part of the standard licensing and may need to, may need to purchase additional data. So at that point, you may need to be thinking, do we really need to be holding onto everything that we’re keeping in these systems?
A third aspect of data management that we’re seeing is we’re calling kind of the competition to be the standard bearer of how data should be structured. And I think Microsoft in my mind really took the biggest step in this direction, because as they looked to move into the nonprofit space, with a lot of purpose here in the past three years, they started with the data model. So they said, let’s define what it looks like from a data perspective to be able to accommodate all of the different types of data that any nonprofit would ever want to manage. And then from there, we’ll look to build out certain solutions. And so they’re kind of putting some pressure on the ecosystem to, or the putting some pressure on other vendors in the space to think about as they build their own data models, can they conform to a standard that works more broadly across vendors so that organizations that have multiple systems can more easily exchange data between those systems.
The fourth point here on data is greater emphasis being placed on directly connecting data between systems through middleware integrations. We’re going to talk more about that in detail in just a second.
The fifth is things related to effectively managing the technology you have making sure that systems are available, reliable. Making sure that the systems themselves are secure to avoid data breaches. And making sure that you’re adhering to privacy standards like GDPR and HIPAA.
And then the, the sixth point is increased levels of constituent self-service or self-management of data. And again, this I think is driven partly by the fact that all of us now are used to, for the companies that we relate to and in our personal lives, having a lot of control over our accounts, over our interactions with companies online and are more used to being able to go online and do things for ourselves, whether that’s, update a credit card on a recurring gift or make an appointment or download a receipt. But this also creates efficiencies for staff, right? Because the more you can have your constituents do for themselves, whether that’s, again, that’s in the realm of donor services or your programs that takes some of the burden off your staff and helps you be able to operate more efficiently. How anything you add there in terms of —
Kyle Haines: No, I’m actually curious of any one from the audience would have anything to add. So feel free to chat or add anything to the Q&A if there’s things that some of the folks who are on today’s call, if anyone has seen trends, we’re curious if we certainly didn’t get all of them. This was the six, Watt and I came up with. So please feel free to add them.
Watt Hamlett: Great. And then I’ve just got one more slide here, I want to talk about by way of tech systems and that’s specifically on integration, because invariably, whether you take a top down approach or bottom up approach, the odds are very, very good you are not going to end up with all of your data in a single system. And so even to get the data into single system, you’re probably going to be faced with some kind of system integration maybe in the short-term or long-term. So three basic ways to think about tying data together between systems.
The first is file exchange. This is import and export. So somebody downloads a CSV or Excel file out of one system and imports it into another system, that’s a more manual approach, but in many cases that’s sufficient, right? There’s no need to invest in anything more sophisticated than that in certain cases.
The second category would be APIs or connectors. And this is for, if you think about the platform approach, kind of the app concept, where companies have built ways have prebuilt ways for their products to plug into a Salesforce or a Microsoft or other platform. And so these are a little bit more plug in play and can be more efficient to operate because sort of the all of the business logic has been built into the connector that the company has built.
And then the third category would be some sort of more sophisticated middleware or ETL tool. It’s sometimes called integration platform as a service. But these are external tools that you’re using to build in both the business logic, as well as the actual technical connections between systems give you a lot more control over what data moves, where and when, but also just a lot more overhead to operate both in terms of time and cost.
So with that, Kyle, I will hand it back to you to talk to us about our third pillar.
Kyle Haines: Excellent. And I think that a lot of the, or hopefully a lot of what’s covered in this section, answers some of the questions and some of the comments that we heard earlier in both the chat and the Q&A, and the essence of this is really hopefully giving you some ideas and some practical tools that help you both define or get into more details around what it’s going to take to drive adoption of CRM. And in some ways, answering the question, what is this project all about? What is this CRM project really all about? And do we agree on what it’s about?
I talk about change management a lot. And I think that change management is a hybrid of both art and science and many organizations don’t do a good job of balancing them. You see organizations that approach it just purely from a project management lens and are like, this is about managing tasks and milestones in driving progress forward. And you see other organizations that stay perhaps don’t understand the scale and the scope of what a CRM project might look like for them. And so driving adoption is part art and part science. Ultimately it’s about a making sure that you have an appropriate amount of detail to support, to support leaders and support the team in understanding what making a CRM, what making CRM a reality looks like for you, not for what it looks like for an organization, but specifically what it looks like for your organization.
Some of the challenges we see in the adoption of CRM, and I think this was embedded again in the comments that people made and in some of the things Watt and I have covered already.
The top one is that sometimes when it comes down to it, you’re just not ready for that scale of change. You’re in the middle of a strategic refresh. There’s been a leadership change. There are valid reasons for not approaching a big CRM project.
The other one and I think Watt has a personal story that relates to this is how do you budget for something that might be a multi-year investment. You may know what it might look like to do phase one, but how do you budget over multiple years? And we’re going to talk about that in a little bit later in more detail on a subsequent slide.
The next thing and we also have some examples about this is before you get into the technology itself, we experience organizations that don’t have a sense of how is the data even going to be structured. What’s the important data that you need to capture? What is the role of CRM in capturing that data versus other systems that range from finance systems to HR systems, to constituent engagement systems.
The next one is around governance. That there’s not established ways. And I should say project governance. There’s not really a history of surfacing and addressing differences of opinion. And I think there was a comment earlier that from one of the attendees that their organization, that there are differences of opinion between the top and the bottom around how to approach CRM and CRM data.
The next one is the reality is that these are big projects. They are time intensive. Even if you rely on outsourced vendors to lead you through the project, lead you through selections, lead you through implementations, you still need to be an active participant in this. And I’m sure everyone on the call has experienced that no vendor can successfully implement a CRM project without active participation from you.
And then the very real last one is that over time, it’s hard to maintain interest in this. If this is a multi-year Salesforce project, that’s a lot of time and energy. And how do you keep people’s interest in this project in attention and commitment to this project going?
And I saw a couple questions in the Q&A, are they questions you want me to answer now or?
Watt Hamlett: Yeah, we had a couple comment related to data integration. I think maybe we’ll come back to those just so we don’t get too far off track with what you’re talking about here, Kyle.
Kyle Haines: Great. Thank you.
The first is deciding what approach is right for you. And we’re going to talk a bit more about that in a moment.
The next is that if you’re going to take a top-down approach, we think that you have to find a way to frame this as an organizational imperative. So what came to mind was an organization that I work with, the Lymphoma Research Foundation, and really getting people aligned around what the constituent journey is when somebody is diagnosed with lymphoma. The reality is that it’s probably the scariest thing that someone has ever faced. And so how do we meet them, where they are in their journey and how do our systems and technology support those? And upstream of that how do our business processes, how do our operations, how do we create a supportive journey? And so in some ways, this is an example from a top down before we’re even getting into questions about, are we talking about Salesforce here? Are we talking about Dynamics? What are we talking about here? We are creating an imperative to think about CRM more holistically.
Watt Hamlett: Okay. Kyle, I just want to add that on your previous slide, talking about the six common, most common challenges, Jill chimed into say that her organization checks five of the six boxes. So I guess first of all, Jill, congratulations that at least there’s one box you don’t check. So that’s good. That’s good, but I’d love to know of other folks if there are other challenges, if you want to give an amen to one of the challenges that Kyle named, or if there are other challenges that you found along the way towards trying to bring CRM into reality in your organization.
Kyle Haines: I don’t know. I want to know which box they don’t check and what we can do to help you check all six boxes.
Watt Hamlett: Yeah. Jill, we’d love to know which one you’ve already checked or haven’t checked.
Kyle Haines: Yeah.
So I was going to talk about data architecture. This is, and I, we called this out earlier as something that oftentimes organizations don’t take the time to do. You can see that this sit upstream of making a technology selection. This is really understanding how everything fits together and coming up with an agreement about how things fit together. And in some ways, for the folks who are asking about how do you socialize how big this is, this can be a quick way. Even though this looks reasonably technical to say, look at the complexity of what we’re trying to accomplish. Look at the types of data that we need to capture, that all have something to do with how constituents experience us.
And then you can go a level farther. And this aligns to the diagram earlier with all of the data associated with it. And if you didn’t noticed, this is an Excel spreadsheet with lots of tabs. So this is a lot of work, but again, this is sitting upstream of making a technology decision. It’s really understanding what is the data opportunity? What is the constituent experience opportunity, whatever those opportunities are, what are they and getting very specific about them.
The other lens that you could look about, look at this through is how are stakeholders going to be impacted by this, by a CRM project and CRM data? And the screenshot that I took actually focused on volunteers, but the entirety of this captures finance. It captures membership services. It captures a number of different departments and really understanding how stakeholders are going to be impacted by this can also communicate the breadth of either the opportunity or the breadth of the challenge, and perhaps give people a sense of how big of a bite of the apple the organization is going to need to take, or even has the appetite to take on.
Watt, I want to pause. Anything that you think you want to add?
Watt Hamlett: Go to the next slide and then we’ll get in a couple of questions here.
Kyle Haines: Perfect.
So this is what we mentioned earlier is getting, writing down and getting very specific around what are going to be the staffing and time commitments for somebody in this project and also in an ongoing way. So here are two positions as an example that are going to be needed following the go live, post go live. These are how many, how much time positions need to be allocated to working with this new project and or new product rather. It’s also important to capture in the various phases of the project. We, what the time commitments are going to be, not only of people’s central to the project, but departments and departmental representatives.
Watt, you said there are a couple questions, comments that relate to us.
Watt Hamlett: So you can ask a question here that I think is relevant to this question about staffing and time commitment. So she said she we’d love some tips for re-energizing when you are in the midst of an implementation transition, our team is excited of the possibilities, but could use a boost as we are at the point of messy data cleaning for migration. And not yet to the exciting new features that show a promise of more efficiency and engagement. And I think, one of the earlier slides talking about challenges, one of them is this very one it’s fatigue. And I think we were, we were speaking specifically to the, kind of the, the long process that can be involved just to getting to the CRM decision, but there’s also this reality of once you’re in the midst of it, it can be it can be very time consuming and a lot of hard work and kind of a drag.
Kyle Haines: A total drag.
And my question is, are you creating the expectation for leadership that the time needed to spend on data cleanup? I think that was in the example that’s not that, they need additional time to do that. So how are you creating the space for it? And it sounds incredibly cheesy, but it’s, how do you create an environment where people want to do that? So are you buying them in a remote world? Are you blocking off time and sending them a Grubhub card, so that they can get lunch. For those of you who are back in person, are you creating war rooms to address these things? Are you so celebrating milestones? It really is about being a cheerleader for the importance of this. And a big part of this is thinking about what cheerleading looks like and making sure that the leadership of the organization is as equally invested in being cheerleaders and being vocal cheerleaders, not just cheerleaders behind closed doors.
Watt Hamlett: And I have just an, I agree with all that, I have an additional thought in terms of keeping people excited and sort of focused on the end goal, often in the middle of the project, it can be helpful to sort of maybe revisit some of the things you looked at during the sales process. So if there are, video demos of what the tools can do, or there is functionality that you’re looking forward to using this can also be a good time so let’s talk about that, like we’re going to have, we’re going to have a tool that lets us do X, Y, Z in the midst of having to do this grunt work of data clean out. Let’s also spend a little time dreaming about how we’re going to, what we’re going to be able to do as a result of this tool coming in and giving us these additional capabilities.
There’s another question here. At what point in the project would you recommend an org really take a look at staffing and time commitment needs?
Kyle Haines: I mean, the way that I would answer that is that it needs to be part of the selection. I think that before you go forward with implementation, understanding those, that staffing has a cost associated with it, and it should be considered alongside the cost of the overall implementation. So I mean, I think it’s something that’s earlier rather than later, and I think it is evolving as you go through a selection as you understand from the vendor, what they are bringing to the table and what they expect you to bring to the table.
Watt, anything you would add.
Watt Hamlett: No, I totally agree with that.
Kyle Haines: I crushed it.
Watt Hamlett: You crushed it.
Kyle Haines: Nice.
High level budget guidance and multi-year budgets. We recognized that this is really, not always an easy thing to do. And what I thought was perhaps illustrative for those of you who have not been involved in this or done something like this before is just showing the places that we were, that in this example, we were able to get very, very specific and you can probably infer where we could get specific. They’re the ones that are not rounded to the nearest 5,000 and places where it was just notional. And I think the other thing I’d call out here is that we made it explicitly clear that they should prepare to need to hire additional staff, that their existing staff would not be able to support a larger top down approach to CRM. And this high level budget guidance actually was for an organization moving away from a best-of-breeded approach to something they hope is different and that they hope ends up creating richer constituent experiences as a result. So this just shows some of the places that you can get very specific. And some of the places we think it’s important to socialize with the organization expected costs into the future, so that it doesn’t become a surprise later.
Watt Hamlett: Yeah. And this this was a real learning for me early in my career, my first nonprofit role. I found myself in the position at needing to select and recommend technology. And I just didn’t have a concept of this, right? No one had sort of sat down with me and explained to me how the budgeting process works and how for something you want to do, six months from now you’d need to have budgeted for that 12 months ago. So this has been one of my learnings, but I do think the more you can look ahead and really understand the investment, the more clearly the organization can move into this. And Jill, by the way she responded, we said, which of the six did your organization already have down? She said it was the budgeting piece. So kudos to you, Jill.
Kyle, there’s, there’s another question, a follow up on looking at staffing and staffing and time commitments.
Kyle Haines: Yep.
Watt Hamlett: What’s the, do you have recommendations for how to evaluate that for how to really understand what is it going to require from our staff to take this on and how do we begin to allocate roles and hours to those needs?
Kyle Haines: One of the things that we’ve done is when we issue RFPs, is that we ask the vendor that question and just a hopefully quick segue on RFPs. I think that really well done RFPs, not only solicit really good information from a vendor, they also provide really good information for the vendor to respond to. And I think an important part of that is communicating what your availability and your current staff look like. So if Watt and I are selecting a new piece of software and we have no experience with it, we don’t even know what it does, we just know we need it. That’s not a great example in the context of this webinar, but we need to communicate that to the vendor. They’re going to have to lead us through it, right. So if we were to use a specific, we were looking for somebody to help us implement QuickBooks, we need to let them know Watt and I are terrible at accounting. We don’t know, we don’t know double entry accounting. We don’t know any of this stuff lead us. We’re going to need you to lead us through this. By painting that picture, you can then ask based on what we’ve told you, what staff do you need to bring this on to work with us? What do we need to bring to the implementation? What should we expect? What should our departments expect? They can oftentimes provide that guidance for you?
Watt Hamlett: Yeah. I found that as well. That you know, if I’m helping organizations pick a Salesforce partner for their implementation, I will always have them ask the partner, how much time will it take us to do the project you’re proposing and what roles do we need to have and how much time per role should we plan on. And I generally find that those vendors know, because they go through these projects all the time and they know what they need from the nonprofit to be able to do it successfully.
Kyle Haines: And they’re going to like that you’re asking the question, right? Because they want to be successful as well. They want you to ask that question. And so, and they want to provide hopefully realistic guidance on that so that they can be successful and the project doesn’t drag, it doesn’t go over budget or extend the timeline.
Watt Hamlett: So we’re, we’re almost at time we have just, just one more slide here to sort of pull some thoughts together and then there are two more questions of the folks who ask about integrations of the folks who folks who ask these can’t stick around, they will be on the recording once it’s released.
Kyle Haines: Yeah, that’s a good point. Thank you, Watt.
Watt Hamlett: So just in terms of thinking about action steps from here again, just to recap on the number of the things we’ve talked about. So first of all, just it’s really about understanding where you’re starting from and how you’re intending to go forward. Is this an initiative that you’re trying to get leadership invested in? So they’re leading it organization wide. Is this something happening at a department level, more bottom up approach? But wherever you’re starting from sort of know and get as specific as you can about where you are and what your needs are, and then make sure you’re bringing the right stakeholders to the table to verify that. And I think this is often a good opportunity, especially if you’re in a bottom up approach to, to reach out to your peers within the organization to say, we are thinking about moving forward with some tools for X, Y, Z, would these tools be helpful to you? And that way you can, maybe gain some efficiencies and doing the process together.
The third is then creating, creating the vision. So this is where we are. This is where we’re trying to go.
The fourth point is aligning leadership, regardless of whether it’s bottom up or top down, you want to have that, that buy in from leaders, Kyle talked about number five, they’re creating a data architecture. So understanding what’s the total universe of data that’s encompassed in your initiative and what data needs to be there in that future state to support where you’re trying to go.
And then six is creating the roadmap. So what are the steps that you’re going to take to get from where you are today to the finish state. That’s where you can talk to vendors about how long does it take to implement their product. As well as if it’s a larger initiative, thinking about a longer-term roadmap that has milestones along the way, so that you’re doing it in a fashion that the organization can keep pace with and not, not be overwhelmed by. All right.
Kyle Haines: The only thing I might or sorry, just really quickly Watt. One quick thing on, as I was thinking about three and four a quick plug for somebody who came less or late to understanding the value of project charters, number three and four, I think are great opportunity to align people around what you’re trying to accomplish and stating what the vision of the future look like is thinking about the project charter, not as just something you have to do, but it’s really an internal marketing piece. It is really about how are you internally marketing this to leaders and ultimately to the rest of the organization, small plug for project charters.
Watt Hamlett: Great. All right.
Two questions related to integrations, and we’ve got our contact information on the screen. So feel free to reach out with any additional questions. Thank you all so much for your time and attention to this point.
So question one is with any data integration organizations are going to lose some data in translation for things that don’t transfer apples to apples? Yes. So is this a good argument from nonprofits to consider all in one’s solutions? And I would say yes. I mean, I think in general, the more you can consolidate your data systems, the better. We talked about, there can be some issues if the dataset you’re managing gets too large, there can be issues in terms of cost and even performance in Salesforce for example, if your data exceeds certain volumes, your reports gets low, right. That’s just kind of, that’s just kind of something you have to keep in mind. But I think generally yes, the fewer, I like to say as many systems as necessary as few as possible, Kyle think you’d add to that?
Kyle Haines: Yeah, I mean I think that, I might add to that, that answering the question, I guess a question that comes up to me or comes up for me, is the data that you’re losing it, is it okay if you’re not losing it? So as, making sure the organization has an understanding of whether the data that’s being lost, whether it’s high quality durable data, or is it data that in an integration you’re like, it’s okay that we’re not bringing that over because it, we’re not sure it has durable value. That’s the only thing I might add.
Watt Hamlett: Right. And yeah, so we talked about part of the action plan is thinking about the, the total set of data that you need access to. And yeah, if it’s something that isn’t absolutely necessary to move there’s no need to do it.
And then the second question is related to integrations is where would you put a product? Like Zapier on that chart. So we talked about kind of import export connectors and middleware ETL tools. The question asker says it’s an easy tool to use, but I’m concerned about relying on it too much concern that I don’t understand its limits or drawbacks. I think and there’s a number of other tools that are like Zapier, there’s Workato and some others that are designed to it really easy to do kind of point and click integrations. And I generally feel like those are good to a point, but I would have concerns about those being sort of the primary mechanism that you’re using to integrate with at an organizational level. I think they can be good for very specific limited kinds of needs, but if you’re talking about tying your donor database to your finance system or your email marketing tool to your CRM, you’re definitely going to look at something, something beyond those, that kind of tool.
Kyle Haines: Yeah, I mean, I think the concern I have is that oftentimes the recipes that you’re building in a, something like as Zapier who’s building them and maintaining them, documenting what they do. If there’s attrition or turnover, who’s going to be responsible for those things. So I think taking on something like a Zapier, the organization from a IT perspective just needs to be really clear that it may play a significant role in your information strategy and it needs to be supported.
Watt Hamlett: All right. Yeah. Great. Let’s see. I think that is everything, so.
Kyle Haines: Yeah, I think that we got through all the questions, all the chat. We did not go only 30 minutes, but I think it’s because we got some great questions along the way and I really appreciate the participation of everyone. And just as a reminder we are going to send out the slides and the recording will be available, usually takes about a day or so, but you’ll get notification that it’s available.
Watt, I don’t know if there’s anything you’d like to add or anything in signing off, you’d like to say?
Watt Hamlett: Thank you Kyle, for inviting me to be part of this and thanks everybody for joining today. Hope it was useful to you.
Kyle Haines: Thanks everyone.