Advancement CRM Implementations: The Impact of Scope Creep


When implementing a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platform, there is a philosophy in the advancement industry to get the minimally viable product up and running as quickly as possible. 


But as organizations get closer to Go Live with their minimally viable product, they begin to experience it first-hand, and discomfort may set it in. The typical response to this discomfort is often adding functionality at Go Live. 


Adding functionality this late in the process creates scope creep, and you must resist the urge to make those changes. Scope creep introduces tremendous risk to your project. 


Here are three things to consider about the impact of scope creep. 

Solution Stability

When you start expanding your scope toward the latter stages of a project, you risk your solution stability. This is because the functions you’ve added have not gone through the same rigor and paces as everything else that is a part of the original solution. 


Additionally, interconnectedness is jeopardized—what you’re adding to what already exists affects the transition and integration. 


For example, you’re nearing the latter stages of the project, and you’ve decided to add an interface that was not planned initially. This puts your interconnectedness at risk because the data from the new system has not been through the necessary paces for how it will interface with your new advancement CRM. This lack of pacing also increases the risk to your data quality.

Project Team Focus

Adjusting your scope during the latter stages of a CRM project increases your risk of your project team’s loss of focus. This is because the project team has developed a rhythm—they’ve established an approach to getting work done and understanding what they’re working with. 


But adding additional elements to the scope without adequate time diverts their attention and requires them to consume new information—in most cases, very quickly. This disrupts the team’s efficiency, productivity, and performance rhythm. It can also delay successful adoption.

Change Management 

The third risk area of scope creep is its effects on your change management program. Throughout the project, your change management program is continuously assessing and managing change, supporting users through the CRM transition. 


But with scope creep, you’ve moved the goal. So now your change management program must either reassess—which often there isn’t enough time—or you’re left to experience the effects at Go Live without adequate preparation. 

Finally, consider that most institutions come from a legacy system that has existed for an extended time. As a result, users are accustomed to the legacy system—even if they dislike it—with a deep understanding of features and functionality. When you shift to a new advancement CRM with the concept of a minimally viable product, you risk users feeling overwhelmed or, worse, hindering adoption. 


Scope creep hinders your CRM project before it can generate value for your organization. A structured approach to CRM implementation—including training and optimization—helps you avoid CRM scope creep while maximizing the value of your system.