I attended a meeting of the impact champions network recently, organised as part of Inspiring Impact – https://www.inspiringimpact.org/. The topic was ‘The Role of Digital in Impact Measurement’.
One of the organisations presenting their journey with implementing a new CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) was a large national charity. The design and implementation of the CRM took years, a substantial amount of money, and had a team of 50+ people working on it at times. The product they ended up with met some of their needs well, and others not so well. It went way over budget, and timescales and isn’t loved by their staff.
Their main learning points for others were:
- Keep it as simple as you can – if you try and do everything in one system it will be too complicated
- Make sure you have the right base product/provider at the beginning
- Work ‘agile’ – test throughout rather than setting everything up and then testing
- Involve staff, and other users throughout
The discussions following with others in the room, also highlighted the importance of ‘cultural’ buy in from any organization making an investment in a similar system.
We have worked with a number of small organisations who are considering how to best simplify their internal systems and information. Many do look at database systems. Our advice is to:
- Think about what you really need and would use
- Make sure you understand where and how its going to save you time / resource – otherwise, don’t do it
- If your staff don’t like managing data (getting feedback, providing information etc), then digital systems may not improve this. The system can only be as good as the data that’s put into it
- Do your research – see what’s available and visit other organisations using the systems
- Make sure your organization has the resources (money and staff/volunteer time) to put into the change – otherwise it won’t be successful
If you are thinking about a new database or CRM, then do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org– we have some free resources available, and may be able to put you in touch with other organisations using the products you’re considering.