Are you an Unattractive Client?

When it comes to your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) partnerships, oftentimes, there is a focus on vendors and consultants. But have you considered your actions as a client and how that affects your CRM project implementation.

It’s important to consider what you are bringing to the table at the outset of the advancement CRM implementation. And assessing if what you’re doing is making it more difficult for your project to be successful.
Here are three areas to consider and determine if you’re an unattractive client.


Most CRM vendors will provide a document or information about your resource requirements. In addition, they will identify what it will take to get things done. This document usually includes a recommended skill set and availability that your organization (the client) must provide.

When it comes to staffing—the people power—elements of your project, institutions often take shortcuts. There’s no doubt that your CRM implementation project is an enormous undertaking, and you may be short on staff even before it begins.

But institutions that take shortcuts when it comes to the staffing recommendations can jeopardize the CRM project and increase the risk for failure.

Here’s why: When deciding how to divide the appropriate amount of time—say 50 percent—institutions might disregard the vendor’s recommendation thinking it is too large of a commitment for one team member. So, to get around this rule, some institutions opt to split the commitment between 2–3 people. But there are many challenges with this arrangement. One of which includes the project management being divided between multiple people—this is an ineffective strategy. Additionally, this type of arrangement requires a significant amount of communication, which institutions often forget to consider and leads to communication barriers.

Splitting project management is one of the worst strategies. Project management is the hardest part of your CRM project, and it needs to be filled by a dedicated individual.

Decision Making

Project governance is critical to establish at the outset of a CRM project. Unfortunately, institutions try to pattern their project governance after their fiscal and regular project planning structures.

But this creates a web of committees that slows down decisions for your project. If you’re trying to use an agile approach to your decision making, don’t bog down your choices in a committee format.

Here’s why: Decision-making in a project needs to be expedient and nimble. But if every decision is run through a congressional structure, it’s going to take way too long, and decisions won’t be made. Structuring your decision making in a committee format will increase the failure, stress, strain, and timeline of your CRM project.

When it comes to the decisions that are critical to the project, aim to appoint one individual. Empower the individual to make those in-the-trenches decisions—from optimal design to approving validation. For example, a decision on a specific deliverable needing approval from the vendor should include the least amount of people as possible.

The designated person can take input from others, but in more of a representative style verse asking for input by consensus.

Reserve consensus decision-making for infrastructure-type elements and use it sparingly. Consensus decision-making works well for approving the budget—especially if you are seeking more money or going over budget.


CRM vendors should not be expected to take ownership of your project implementation. Especially if you contract a software vendor or have a team complete your CRM project implementation.

Here’s why: It’s one thing to install software, but it is entirely different from operationalizing the solution. The new CRM needs to become a part of the fabric of your institution. And successfully adopting your CRM software will primarily be your responsibility. Your CRM implementation project success depends on how well you embrace and take ownership.