Keeping Subject Matter Experts Engaged in an Advancement CRM Implementation


Implementing a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) is already challenging for most organizations. The success (or failure) of your CRM is greatly dependent on many variables, but especially on stakeholders like your subject matter experts (SMEs).


Advancement CRM implementations can last 12 months or more—SMEs are critical resources and are required for the success of the project. 


So how do you keep them engaged throughout the process?


Here are a few strategies to keep your subject matter experts engaged in a CRM implementation over 12 months or longer.


Involve them early and often.

SMEs should be involved in the planning and design phase of the project. This will give them a sense of ownership and help them understand the value of their contributions. Additionally, understanding the priorities and concerns of different SMEs from the beginning will help with communication strategies during and after the design sessions. 


Here are a few other ways to engage your SMEs at the beginning of your CRM project.


  • Workflows: Ask SMEs to provide perspective about a workflow that may have been overlooked or missed. They can also contribute an understanding of department workflow requirements and identify gaps.
  • Vendors: SMEs can participate in discussions with vendor representatives about the CRM implementation or application changes that may impact the department’s workflow, productivity, or end-user functionality.
  • Liaison: SMEs can serve as the department’s liaison and facilitate basic troubleshooting, problem identification, and escalation to the technical experts or the vendor.

Provide ongoing training and support.


A good training program not only increases your chance of successful CRM adoption but is also essential in helping users remain self-sufficient and collaborative with fellow team members. As the project progresses, provide ongoing training and support for SMEs to ensure they have the skills and knowledge they need to be effective contributors.


Keep the lines of communication open.


Regularly check in with SMEs to ensure they are aware of the project’s progress and address any concerns or issues they may have.

Offer incentives.

Consider offering incentives, such as recognition or rewards, to keep SMEs motivated and engaged in the project.

Make the work meaningful.

Help SMEs see how their contributions are making a difference and how the project benefits the organization. This can help keep them engaged and motivated for the long term.

Foster a positive team culture.

A positive team culture can help keep everyone, including SMEs, remain engaged and motivated. Here’s how to foster a positive team culture.

  • Distinguish success: Definitions of success vary. Collaboratively define what metrics, outcomes, and actions signal success for SMEs throughout the CRM project.
  • Set goals: Collectively identify goals for CRM project milestones. Set deadlines, track progress, and celebrate successes as you go. 
  • Identify values: Ask your team what they value most and draft a value statement. For example, ask questions like: “What do you value?” and “Which values promote team culture building?” or “What do successful employees share in common?” Then create a value statement that outlines the input. 
  • Offer continuous development: Building a positive team culture takes time and consistent work. Offer ongoing development opportunities that promote teams to learn together.
  • Be supportive: Fostering a positive team culture is about more than work—embrace opportunities to be supportive in good times (and bad). 

As you continue to foster a positive team culture, encourage open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect among team members. Every team member should see how their work contributes to the overall CRM project. 


Overall, it’s essential to involve SMEs in the project from the start, provide ongoing training and support, and keep the lines of communication open. By doing so, you will keep SMEs engaged and motivated throughout the project.