Know the Difference – Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement

For all of my colleagues in Advancement Services or for anyone in charge of Advancement Information Systems; I have a Precision Practices tip for you. I’m going to talk about the difference between Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement versus Implementing CRM Software.


If we look at implementing new CRM software as the entirety of the project, here’s what happens…we install our software, add some configurations and customizations to make it work for our specific institution. That’s it! These items consume our focus, attention, and resources. A successful project requires much more than that, so let’s shift our thinking to Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement.


Let walk through what that looks like. If you focus your project on implementing an entire solution for Advancement, that does include implementing the CRM software. But we also want to integrate the CRM software into the entire fabric of the technology ecosystem that already exists.
This can include things like:

  • An integration with a Document management system
  • An integration with a Financial system
  • An integration to the Grants Management system
  • For a University, an integration with a Student Information System
  • For a Hospital, an integration with a Medical Records System


But we don’t stop there…


The second component we MUST add is how do I make the CRM software a valuable tool for every staff member that uses it. In that case, I’m actually talking about a broader component of the project that will include an on-going Training Program. From a product training perspective, all of my staff members need to have a certain level of proficiency with different modules of the CRM software. It is highly likely that I’m also going to implement new workflows. As part of my Training Program I will also need revamp my policies and procedures. The primary objective is to provide guidance and establish a new business practice in daily operations for everyone who uses the CRM software.


The third component we MUST consider is Data Governance. There is a lot of information that is going to move in and out of the CRM software as it becomes an integrated part of the technology ecosystem. I need to look at establishing a Data Governance Structure. This is a Committee or Team who will actually provide guidance on an on-going basis to maintain the data quality and make sure the CRM software retains useful information.


The fourth component when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement is populating the new CRM database with information from our existing system. How do I get my old data from my legacy system into the new CRM? This might not only be information that’s coming from the legacy system, we might also have shadow databases sitting out there that also need to be considered as well.


As a recap, we explored 5 Components that you MUST have equal amount attention and resources when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement:

  • Implement the new CRM software with configurations and customizations suitable for my institution
  • Integrate the new CRM software in my technology ecosystem
  • Create a comprehensive Training Program that incorporates product training and new business practices
  • Establish an ongoing Data Governance Structure
  • Identify all sources of data required to move to the new CRM database


If I incorporate all of these components in my project charter and project management plan, I will achieve the true benefits of the CRM software and also meet the expectations of my Advancement staff.


I hope you found this helpful, comment and let me know what other items you would add to a MUST DO list when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement.

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