Six Steps to Help You Understand the Scope of Your Advancement CRM Implementation



There’s never enough time and resources when a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) Implementation is underway at your institution. But before you begin, it’s essential to pay attention to the scope of what needs to occur. You may be wondering, what does that entail? 


Your project is not just about implementing the CRM software you choose—it’s usually more comprehensive than that. Defining the scope of CRM projects means figuring out which areas need to be included in the CRM implementation plan. Understanding the scope of your advancement CRM implementation is essential to establish what the effort will (and will not) cover and prevent feature creep and project bloating.


Here’s six steps for how to understand and plan the scope of your advancement CRM implementation.


 Step 1: Set Your Parameters 


To begin the scoping process, reflect on what you’re hoping to improve using a CRM system—narrow your focus to help you understand what kind of scope you need. Then, to keep expectations realistic, make a list of questions for yourself and the vendors of your shortlist platforms. 


Consider things like:


  • Budget
  • Timeframe
  • Amount of training you think you’ll want


By asking these targeted questions to the project managers and stakeholders, you can move forward confidently with parameters that meet your needs.


Step 2: Define the Scope 


Defining the scope may be easier said than done. But with a bit of preliminary planning, you can get up to speed right away. 


Ask yourself these questions. 


  • Is our CRM scope broad or narrow? 
  • What is the timeline—will it be all at once or staggered?
  • What is my general budget?  


Ask your vendors these questions. 


  • How long does this solution take to implement? 
  • What training resources are included in the base cost? 
  • What type of customer service do you offer? 
  • How well does the CRM platform integrate with other systems? 


Step 3: Decide on Additional Technology Components and Platforms


What technology platform are you going to use? This includes all the software involved—not just the vendor software you purchased like Salesforce Affinaquest or a Blackbaud CRM. It has all the software that is (or will be) installed that supports the CRM vision. 


Usually, CRM software can’t operate alone. It needs a place in the ecosystem that it can be integrated. And you need to identify all those other systems it must integrate with. This could include a data warehouse or a data analytics platform—these are most often implemented in tandem with a CRM package. 


Step 4: Gather Information from Relevant Departments


Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to gather your specific requirements. Long-term CRM success often has less to do with the technology you use or the money you spend and more to do with adoption. 


Because of this, it’s important to make sure everyone is on board from the beginning. Ask for feedback from the departments in your organization about their needs and goals for the CRM. 


Also, think about your institution’s infrastructure and processes that will be impacted, as well as instructions to identify key performance indicators (KPIs). Then, make your intentions to upgrade and integrate a CRM system apparent to all those whose work will be impacted by the changes. 


Step 5: Identify Your Users   


Who are your actual users that will be a part of this project and implementation? 


This includes those who directly access the CRM software but also those who will be the data consumers. Consider all users who may be consuming data through other measures. This includes users who are accessing information from a self-service portal. 


For example, your finance department would be considered users because they may be accessing your CRM application to post to your general ledger. They’re not logging in to the system, but they are consuming the data—so they’re considered users.


Step 6: Distinguish Business Processes


Create an inventory or identify the business processes that the CRM implementation will enable. It is essential to identify those that are a part of your scope and detail out processes within your organization that are out of your scope. 


For example, you might distinguish a business process that impacts this project, but you do not want to touch the XYZ process. Solidify what’s in scope as is what’s out of scope—doing so helps set expectations for your user population. 


Defining the scope of your advancement CRM is vital for your institution. It offers better insight into the overall cost of your project and the features you need. Additionally, it provides a better understanding of your requirements and what you’re expecting from the project from all members of your institution.