Your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation requires many resources. Going live with your CRM project is the culmination of weeks, months, and sometimes even years of groundwork, project planning, preparation, execution, monitoring, and controls involving an institution’s internal and external stakeholders.
Your go-live is when something becomes available for use—moving from the test environment to the production environment. This is when your CRM system is officially and formally available to users.
Getting to the go-live date can feel like the finish line, but it is just the beginning of successful adoption. In fact, what happens before is just as important as what happens after going live—an unsuccessful go-live can cost you financially and create a cascade of problems.
The go-live date is arguably the most critical milestone in a CRM implementation. Here’s how to select the right go-live date for your institution.
Stakeholders and Business Units
Selecting your go-live date for your CRM shouldn’t be a decision made independently. Your stakeholders will be one of your best resources when determining which dates are most feasible and those to avoid for your CRM go-live.
Initiate conversations with stakeholder groups, asking what institution-wide dates to avoid. Are there major holidays that may conflict with your timeline?
Then have a similar conversation with each business unit. Find out what times will be more stressful than others. For example, always avoid dates like your flagship fundraising event and end-of-year giving campaigns.
A project milestone is a specific point used to measure the progress toward the goal. Milestones in CRM project management are used as signals for a project’s start or end date, external reviews or input, budget checks, submission of a major deliverable, and more.
As you consider the most appropriate date for your CRM go-live, you’ll also need to evaluate your project plan milestones and how they implicate going live. Consider project tasks and the time frame your staff needs for completion. Then, set realistic expectations for how your team can achieve the project milestones and how that supports your go-live date.
The executive committee acts as a steering committee because it guides the direction of the entire board and prioritizes challenges. They also often lead executive board meetings, set agendas, and collect reports from other committees and board members.
Most often the steering committee is responsible for:
- supporting the project;
- making decisions;
- resolving issues;
- approving the project budget;
- obtaining status updates; and
- encouraging project managers.
Engage your executive steering committee to consider the best go-live date. Offer multiple dates for consideration and use decision analysis tools like a Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) to evaluate your options effectively.
SBAR is a verbal or written communication tool that helps provide essential, concise information, usually during crucial situations. In some cases, SBAR can replace an executive summary with a formal report because it provides focused and concise information. In addition, it allows for setting expectations for what will be communicated and how between team members.
As you consider the right date for your CRM go-live, allot for a 60-day window. This ensures your staff aren’t distracted and can fully devote their time and effort to supporting your CRM go-live.