Are You Exceeding Your Staff’s Capacity for Change?


The natural tendency of leadership during a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation is to change everything all at once. But this is a dangerous way of thinking because the human experience can’t manage change in every aspect simultaneously. 


Not to mention the restricted timeline of a CRM project—users can’t handle this amount of change, let alone under a demanding deadline. 


For example, these components are only some of the areas that change during a CRM implementation.

  • Software
  • Toolset 
  • Processes  
  • Policies  
  • Supplemental tools or software
  • Data quality 
  • Staff roles and responsibilities 

Combining the amount changes in a restricted 18-month timeframe causes most institutions to fall short. (In our experience, none have ever been able to achieve it.)


But this is an excellent opportunity to implement meaningful change—with the right strategy and approach. Here’s how you can integrate change without exceeding your staff’s capacity. 

Preparation Phase

The preparation phase is the perfect opportunity to take on data quality investigation and cleanup efforts successfully. This is also a time to identify new policies you want to establish—at the very least, you’ve established a framework. 


For example, your institution wants to change its data maintenance policy, moving from a distributed model. But with this transition, you’re also changing how much control people have, which doesn’t mix well with the CRM project implementation itself. 


But moving from a distributed model is something you can take on ahead of time during the preparation phase. In this phase, identify the details, discuss its importance and benefits, and establish changes to your data maintenance policy. When working in the preparation phase, there is less risk to work through challenges vs. trying to do it during your CRM implementation. 

Implementation Phase

It can be tempting to implement change all at once, but doing so can overwhelm your stakeholders. Consider breaking up change into phases.


For example, a first phase might spotlight front-line fundraisers. Within this group, set an implementation period, establish how they’re going to use the new technology, and how their roles and responsibilities fit within the context. 


Then focus on your advancement operations during the second phase. During this phase, consider how they’ll use the CRM platform from a benefits standpoint vs. just transitioning from your legacy system. 

Refinement Phase

Now that you’ve made it through preparation and implementation, the refinement phase is about taking lessons learned and modifying. Remember, the successful adoption of a CRM doesn’t happen instantaneously.


A phasing-out approach to organizational change management helps you make improvements that directly benefit your institution without overwhelming your staff.