5 Questions to Assess Your Campaign Readiness for Advancement

 

At times organizations need to raise substantial funds for a specific purpose apart from annual budgets. Typically, campaigns fund tangible things like an expansion, renovation, or restoration. Capital campaigns are always based on an ambitious vision, or more commonly referred to as Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAG).

 

When it comes to capital campaigns, some organizations focus primarily on the question of campaign feasibility. But it is just as (if not more) important to focus on the question of campaign readiness.

 

If you are preparing for a capital campaign, much focus is on your gift officers and programs to develop your overall campaign strategy and identify campaign priorities. During this process, there are often many questions as planning gets underway.

 

The campaign feasibility assesses the external environment, whereas readiness examines the organization’s ability to manage and maintain a campaign. Here are five questions to ask within your organization to determine if your capital campaign is ready for launch.

 

Can we identify a lead gift?

 

The success of capital campaigns highly depends on the initial lead or principal level gifts. If you aren’t able to identify lead gifts, you likely won’t develop the campaign you are envisioning.

 

The most successful capital campaigns identify where the top two or three gifts will derive. For example, if you’re looking to raise $1 billion, you’ll need to identify lead gifts upwards of $100 million.

 

Can we identify major gift donors?

 

Similar to lead gifts, it’s essential to know where a significant number of major gifts will come from. If you can’t, it might not be time to launch, and your time would be better spent developing your major gift fundraising for your annual fund.

 

How well-positioned are we to solicit, receive, and steward the gifts that donors will give?

 

Donor relations are an organization’s comprehensive actions promoting long-term engagement and quality interactions with donors. Positively manage prospect relationships over time by focusing on the seven steps of solicitation.

 

  1. Identify
  2. Research
  3. Plan
  4. Cultivate
  5. Ask
  6. Close
  7. Thank and Steward

 

Are our advancement services teams prepared for a capital campaign?

 

You can’t reach audacious capital campaign goals without the proper teams to support your initiatives. If the expectation is that your current staff and resources are sufficient for campaign production, you might fail to reach new, ambitious goals. Instead, assess the areas you may need additional support.

 

From prospects to patients, members to alumni (and everyone in between), the people who fuel and fund an organization’s future present an immense amount of data to be captured, managed, and visualized—ultimately leveraged by the experts in advancement services[1].

 

Do we have the prospect development pipeline to meet our capital campaign goals?

 

You must know what’s in your fundraising pipeline. One way to determine if the pipeline works as it should, is to determine whether people from your donor list are spread throughout.

 

Remember, there are three main reasons people donate:

 

  • deep passion for the cause;
  • belief in the organization; or
  • know someone affected by the mission.

 

Accurate Constituent Data

 

In addition to readiness, accurate constituent data, efficient and reliable gift tracking, and reliable campaign reporting are critical components to your capital campaign success.

 

An organization’s most valuable asset is its accurate constituent data. The Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system is usually the central piece of software at an organization. The CRM is more than a database—proving intelligence and functionality organizations need to optimize fundraising and communication with their supporters.

 

Accurate data sets you up for fundraising success—allowing you to set reasonable goals, evaluate your team needs, reach constituents, track gifts efficiently, and analyze reliable campaign reporting.

 

[1] https://www.advserv.org/page/about-advancement-services/

 

5 Best Practices to Ease Your Advancement CRM Online Training

 

Advancement is becoming increasingly more challenging. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. These unprecedented times are fueled by a global health crisis, world-wide financial turmoil, and political unrest. Markets are volatile with many negative societal implications. Many organizations continue to shutter their face-to-face activities and healthcare systems are strained under the pressure of ongoing patient needs.

 

Online learning is continuing. Working virtually has proved many positives but may not be as straightforward when considering online training in complex systems like Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)—especially if your audience is more “old school” and prefers in-person learning.

 

A fully online course lacks a physical teaching space and requires digital communication and transmission of materials and assessments. Compared to the in-person learning environment, the online environment requires different strategies for teaching and learning. These new elements might seem intuitive, but for others might not be as obvious.

 

Online instruction requires the knowledge and practice of online etiquette (or netiquette) and the initial establishment of performance and behavior expectations. Virtual instructors need to be aware of these differences and be deliberate as they transition their course to the online environment.

 

Online training for your Advancement CRM is no exception. Here are five best practices to ease the burden of your Advancement CRM online training.

 

Get Employee Support

 

First things first, you’ll need to get your entire organization to ‘buy-in’ to the idea of virtual CRM training. Without their support, conducting training in any capacity will fall flat. CRM training and education will flourish if the organization’s people believe in the system, the benefits it can deliver, and have an understanding of their role in the overall implementation.

 

Getting key stakeholders involved early can help, but don’t forget about engaging end-users. Frequently, organizations think that if the executives are supportive, their staff will be too—this isn’t always the case.

 

If you’re struggling to get the support you need, survey to see if employees value the transition. They may be worried about learning a new system or assume their job may change as a result. While valid—and in some cases true—understanding their trepidations helps meet them where they’re at and eventually supporting them to buy into the transition.

 

Develop a Targeted Training Strategy

 

CRM platforms are often equipped with limitless possibilities—overwhelming even the most technology-inclined individual. Instead of jumping into all it has to offer, break your training into bite-size pieces that support crucial operational processes.

 

For example, one of the things you might do with your CRM system is to locate your constituent base in a personalized and targeted way. To do this effectively, first develop a strategy. Then train people on how you use the system to support that initiative.

 

Utilize Synchronous and Asynchronous Methods

 

There is an assumption that people will use the CRM system consistently and systematically immediately following training. Not everyone learns in the same way, and inadequate training can increase frustrations or even lead to employee burnout[1].

 

Avoid this by incorporating synchronous training—live scheduled classes—with a combination of asynchronous work encouraging employees to complete activities independently. Use the asynchronous work sessions to have trainees practice uploading data or running reports.

 

Create a strategy to address the non-users or those that may be struggling with comprehension. In an online training environment, this might look like having office hours to ask questions. Or set aside time to allow the training leader to conduct a screen share and walk the end-user through the issue in real-time.

 

Create Real-Life Training Scenarios

 

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to learn new software and not understand how it applies to a person’s day-to-day. Tailor training to your specific organizational needs. Clearly identify outcomes and expectations, focusing on tasks they’ll need to understand in their individual role.

 

Use this opportunity to establish acceptable working practices. Decide formatting and other requirements to ensure consistency.

 

Creating standards of practice helps avoid entering data in multiple ways. For example, if you’re entering names and addresses into the CRM database, require everyone to enter information in title case without abbreviations.

 

Schedule Ongoing Training

 

Plan to have ongoing online training for your Advancement CRM. This helps to maintain the long-term value of your investment in CRM technology by regularly engaging end-users in new updates, processes, and procedures.

 

It also provides opportunities for consistency, making sure anyone using the CRM system has a solid understanding of expectations, specifications, feedback, and the ability to problem-solve.

 

Investing in your CRM now is more important than ever before. But your CRM system must be more than a database—it should provide the intelligence and functionality you need to optimize fundraising and communication with your supporters.

 

 

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681321000392

 

Focus on These Critical Areas If You Are Implementing a New Advancement CRM

 

Implementing Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives can be overwhelming—they require change, disrupt processes and workflows. They force your organization to think about how you manage your existing data and deciding how you’ll move forward with data collection.

 

Internally, business processes and technology may need to be changed. Externally, constituent experiences can be disrupted, requiring you to shift in how you communicate.

 

Improving your CRM platforms can leverage an integrated advancement solution that helps break down data silos, drive major gifts and online fundraising, improve reporting and insights with artificial intelligence (AI), personalize engagement, and steward longtime supporters.

 

Now is an incredible time for Advancement teams to focus on improving and modernizing their strategies for success.

 

Focus on these critical areas if you are implementing a new Advancement CRM—primarily if staff work remotely or have worldwide concerns.

 

Stakeholder Engagement

 

Stakeholder engagement has always been an essential part of Advancement, but it needs an overhaul—the way it’s been done is changing. Gone are the days (at least temporarily) of traveling for face-to-face interactions.

 

Video visits were trending even before the pandemic. One-third[1] of all advancement teams were already using video chats as visits, but now it’s an overwhelming majority. This trend will likely not disappear.

 

The shift to digital engagement holds massive potential for fundraising. A gift officer can make dozens of video calls in a day versus a handful of in-person visits—doing so at a fraction of the cost.

 

There will always be a need for face-to-face visits with prospects, but incorporating more resources into building out digital advancement programs can help deliver personal, concierge-like experiences to more donors at scale.

 

Project Communication and Transparency

 

Project communication is challenging without layering on the obstacles brought on by the pandemic. Teams remain working remotely. Many are facing worldwide concerns that extend far beyond your organization.

 

The way you communicate varies greatly depending on the project’s role and stage—but project communication and transparency have never been more critical.

 

A CRM accurately and efficiently drives prospect research and reporting—helping you streamline gift entry, inform strategy, measure campaign effectiveness and return on investment (ROI), and access predictive analysis tools.

 

Focus on reliable information and transparency about the benefits your organization offers your constituents, funders, and communities—they are critical to your legitimacy, funding, and competitiveness.

 

Requirements Management

 

Poor requirements management processes have been associated as a leading cause of project failure. Requirements can be classified into functional and non-functional.

 

Functional requirements are capabilities that the product or service must satisfy user needs. These are the most fundamental requirements often referred to as business requirements.

 

Non-functional requirements include usability, performance, reliability, and security requirements. These are qualities that a product or service must have—they are no less critical than functional requirements.

 

Requirements management helps suppliers and customers understand what is needed to avoid wasting time, resources, and effort. To be effective, it must involve all four requirements processes: planning, development, verification, and change management—which also should be associated with formal standardized organizational implementation.

 

Many requirements management tools are already well-positioned to handle the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Critical areas that requirements management will significantly influence for years include remote working, consolidation and automation, and AI. Organizations that have already adopted these practices stand to benefit greatly and rise above the competition.

 

Requirements management will have to facilitate an agile approach to business. Simultaneously maintaining an efficient development process may mean shorter time-to-market, more imaginative prioritization of business demand, and integration of design thinking processes into development.

 

Iterative Planning

 

Managing new roadblocks, disparate team members, and responding to the new budget and resource constraints should be reflected in your project management processes. With economic and market turmoil, you’ll need to use all available resources to guide decisions with data analysis and predictions for your top prospects and trustees.

 

This current pandemic is not a time to drop everything and panic—it is an opportunity to manage projects and continue to deliver value to your organization.

 

Iterative planning—the process of creating new strategies or developing new products—will be a necessity as organizations may be vulnerable to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

 

Not to mention, the pandemic has decreased median income wealth in the United States[2]. Mid-tier giving will likely be more critical than ever—significantly if top donors scale back the same way they did in 2008.

 

High levels of uncertainty require you to operate at high speeds. Here is a five-step cycle you can apply to plan ahead, responding to the rapidly changing environment.

 

  1. Get a realistic view of where you are starting.
  2. Visualize multiple versions of your future and develop scenarios.
  3. Establish your stand and overall broad direction.
  4. Decide actions and strategic moves that can be applied across scenarios.
  5. Set points that trigger your organization to act at the most opportune time.

 

Develop a team dedicated to planning. They should focus on developing your modular and support your iterative planning cycle throughout the crisis.

 

[1] https://www.prosek.com/unboxed-thoughts/source-development-survey-shows-big-majority-of-reporters-prefer-phone-over-zoo/

[2] https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2020/4/8/course-correction-will-the-coronavirus-crisis-upend-the-higher-ed-fundraising-model

How to Develop Your Business Intelligence Team in 5 Steps

 

Implementing Business Intelligence (BI)—performance-based data, often acquired through software—enables organizations to access constant reporting, meet reporting requirements faster and easier, and foster a broader culture of accountability and data-driven decision-making.

 

BI data can help you from an operational perspective, fundraising and revenue-hitting goals, and organizational efficiency. Develop and analyze prospects and closely measure your team’s performance with BI data—making decisions regarding things like Key Performance Indicators (KPI), budget forecasting, and other metrics-oriented decisions.

 

Advanced analytics is a complex undertaking that presents strategic opportunities but also data challenges. But it all starts with an effective business intelligence team. Here’s how to develop yours in five steps.

 

Step 1: Define Your Vision and Strategy

 

BI’s main benefit is to help make better-informed decisions supported with accurate data—helping to uncover new business opportunities, cut costs, remain compliant, hire more effectively, or identify inefficient processes that need reengineering.

 

BI can help make better decisions by showing up-to-date and historical data within the business context.

 

A few ways that BI can help organizations make smarter, more data-driven decisions include:

 

  • Identify ways to increase profit
  • Analyze customer behavior
  • Compare data with competitors
  • Track performance
  • Optimize operations
  • Predict success
  • Recognize market trends
  • Discover issues or problems

 

Before you begin, you’ll need to define your vision and strategy. Too often, organizations dive into BI with high aspirations and little planning to get there.

 

To define your data roadmap, you’ll first need to identify things like:

 

  • Mission, vision, and competitive strategy
  • Goals for the data team to achieve
  • Infrastructure you need to accomplish
  • Resources to prioritize

 

Step 2: Structure Your Analytics Organization

 

Building your BI team requires structure that supports the vision and strategy you’ve defined. Misaligning your team structure can result in subpar results, lost revenue, and team burnout.

 

There are several ways to structure your team.

 

A centralized team structure is often independent of the Information Technology (IT) department in larger organizations. A centralized team may have its own budget and more autonomy. Frequently, the analytics team reports directly to an executive.

 

The main benefit of the centralized team structure is the autonomy it presents. The BI team can apply analytics and data as they deem necessary—providing value and support to your overall strategy.

 

On the contrary, the centralized team can become siloed and get buried in overly complicated processes—keeping them from being productive and impactful. Not to mention, everyone is accessing the same data sets which can result in a duplication of effort.

 

A decentralized team model functions similar to marketing a product. You hire a dedicated team member to create and control an internal team effectively. The leader of this team would need to be someone with skills in the hybrid domain and analytics.

 

The decentralized teams works independently of other teams, and priorities are decided by the C-suite. This structure is useful in the early stages of data science, providing “quick wins” in pilot projects—it often proves less risk.

 

This team structure is not effective unless an organization has robust data governance and master a data management model. Otherwise, people within different business units and functions may have conflicting information or require more time to verify analytics conclusions.

 

A hybrid team structure is a combination of a centralized and decentralized team. It functions similar to a centralized unit, except the team is placed under a business function—using analytics to drive strategic results.

 

In this structure, the team reports to the head of the department. Hybrid teams are useful for organizations with less mature analytics strategies or limited resources.

 

Step 3: Define Roles

 

After you’ve defined your vision, strategy, and structure, you can now identify individual skills and team roles needed to achieve these results.

 

A great place to start is leadership.

 

The Business Intelligence Director is a high level and expensive position—it is the most sought-after position in Advancement. This position directs and oversees high level strategic and tactical decisions for BI tools and applications—they are responsible for leading the design and maintenance.

 

After you’ve established leadership, create job roles that help fulfill the skills and resources you defined in your data vision and strategy. Avoid getting stuck on the right job title, but instead, focus on understanding the skills required and how you might leverage or complement those skills—whether through existing team members or outside vendors.

 

Step 4: Recruit and Assess

 

A successful data-driven organization isn’t derived solely from data, but from the people. Hiring the best resources is where the value from data is created within your organization.

 

You can choose to hire talent to fulfill an internal role or opt to partner with an outside vendor. From inception to operational stability, leveraging outside consultants to jumpstart your effort depends on the types of resources available.

 

If your needs are in advanced technology or machine learning, consider looking to outside vendors to fulfill your needs. Currently, this role is exceptionally specialized and could cost your organization upwards of $250,000 annually. In this instance, working with a vendor is more affordable than hiring someone internally.

 

Step 5: Develop Data Skills

 

Data skills should not remain siloed in the BI team if organizations hope to add value and create a competitive advantage from their data. Data democratization—enables the average end-user to evaluate data without requiring outside help—is essential for companies who embrace it, leveraging it to create a data-driven culture.

 

To ensure a data-driven culture, consider taking steps toward developing employee data skills.

 

  • Cross-pollination: allows team members with diverse and complementary skills to develop new ideas and concepts.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: similar to cross-pollination—directly related to organizational structure—and encourages team members to work closely together with the BI team.
  • Hybrid career paths: creates opportunities so employees can shift into other data related operations like management, digital marketing, or customer relationship management.
  • Provide professional development: offers monthly presentations from internal or external experts, inviting staff to attend data analytics conferences and workshops.

 

Building your BI team is a complex process, requiring a long-term view and a clearly identified mission and vision for your data goals. The ability to get data faster depends on your relationships with centralized resources—accelerating with the right hires, whether internal or external.

Data Security: A Primer for Advancement Leadership

Data security is critical to making sure that vital information from your organization is not easily accessible, but maintaining data security isn’t easy. In fact, there have been 540 data breaches this year.

 

That’s 163,551,023 people affected in 2020 so far by breaches in data security. Let’s dive into this critical topic as more and more workers and students sign in online every, single day.

Top 6 Causes of Data Breaches

To increase your knowledge about data security, here are the top causes of data breaches.

1. Weak and Stolen Credentials

Passwords that are cracked through brute force algorithms are a main cause of data breaches, but so are stolen passwords.

 

To keep your passwords safe, make sure that you’ve made them complex enough to render them “unhackable”. You can randomly generated passwords and manage them with tools like LogMeOnce or LastPass. Extra points for a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

2. Application Vulnerabilities

Hackers find the technical vulnerability in a software and then exploit it. Before using or launching a new application, make sure your team tests it for vulnerabilities and finds ways to patch those security threats. This includes applications that house your constituent data, like your Advancement CRM database.

3. Malware

“Malware” is short for “malicious software.” It describes a variety of threatening methods that are designed to infiltrate and damage, disrupt, or hack a device. For example, think of viruses, worms, ransomware, and Trojan Horses. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of malware.

4. Malicious Insiders

Taking care of your employees so that they don’t become a future risk to your institution is important, but so is screening out those who seem predisposed to betraying their employer. Malicious insiders are the employees who have access to sensitive information and then purposefully commit a data breach to harm the institution. Better hiring and screening processes, along with maintaining a good organizational culture and robust employee training programs, can help prevent these insiders from coming on board and wreaking havoc from within the organization.

5. Insider Error

Employees who do not have malicious intent but commit a data breach by mistake are also a threat. These employees may not be aware they’ve done anything wrong, but one accidental keystroke can cause a serious data breach.

 

For these employees, it’s important to remind them to take more care with their work and to encourage them to be transparent when they’ve made an error. Employee training is a crucial step to prevent these errors. Together, you can grow and learn, ultimately stopping similar mistakes from happening.

6. Physical Theft

Theft of a device that holds your institution’s sensitive information falls under this category. To prevent these breaches, you may want to take extra care in where you physically store this information—consider using a safe or a security system.

Why Preventing Data Breaches Is Important

Data breaches are preventable. In fact, 4 of the 6 causes of data breaches can be prevented based on changing human behavior. This means that every staff member in Advancement can be a part of the solution.

How To Prevent Data Breaches

There are several measures you can take to prevent data breaches.

Security Policy Training and Education: Setting The Standard

When you’re creating your security policy training and pulling together your educational materials, it’s important to clearly set the standard. When you’re completing this step, it helps to ask yourself and your colleagues the following questions:

  • What is the policy?
  • Why is it beneficial to the organization?
  • How does a security breach impact Advancement?
    • By making a breach relevant to Advancement itself, you’re adding a sense of urgency for employees to comply.

You’ll also want to discuss examples of behaviors that adhere to the policy and examples of behaviors that would violate the policy. By giving employees clear examples, you’re ensuring that they’ll fully understand what does and does not constitute a data breach.

Advancement Leadership as Security Champions: Lead by Example

As a leader in your Advancement team, you must champion the cause to protect sensitive information and build confidence with your donors and supporters. Give periodic Executive Briefings on the key points below:

  • Know what data you have, including its:
    • Location (is it in an on-premise data center, is it vendor-hosted, is it in a storage room, or is it in Mike’s desk drawer?)
    • Format (is the data in a digital copy or a hard copy?)
    • Volume (how much data is there, really?)
    • Classification (whether the data is sensitive or confidential)
  • What potential vulnerabilities exist based on the data you have, the software you’ve used, and access you’ve given staff members?
    • Map these vulnerabilities out and identify them, before a breach occurs.
  • What plans are in place to reduce the vulnerabilities your company has? Are they working? (Tip: If they’re not working, brainstorm ways to improve.)

Communication Plan for Data Breach

Have your plan ready before a data breach occurs. Establish a communication plan such that you and your leadership team can be immediately informed if there is a threat or possible threat of a data breach. Creating a data breach task force or committee can also help streamline that process internally. Determine how you will communicate to your constituents.

Performance Evaluations: Enforce Security Policies

You can’t simply rely on IT to be the sole security watchdog for your organization. By the time they are even aware of staff behavior that has compromised the organization, that door may have been open for months. Staff should be evaluated on a consistent and measured basis.

Data Security: Final Thoughts

Assessment of your Advancement team’s Data Security requires a 360-degree look into how your institution is performing, the vulnerabilities that exist, and ways that existing processes can be refined to prevent future data breaches.

 

When you’re trusting employees with sensitive data, remember—human error can and will happen, but with the right precautions, you’re taking safeguards to prevent future accidental breaches from happening again.

 

Malicious actors also exist, but again—with the right measures, you’re taking steps to prevent them from hacking into or stealing your data.

Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

Everything You Need to Know About Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

We’ve all seen what happens when colleagues think the other followed up with a major donor — and then no one does. Without proper procedures in place, it can be difficult to organize complex programs and maintain efficiency.

 

When it comes to streamlining processes or developing operations procedures for your advancement team, there are a handful of key steps to success to follow. It’s equally as important to document procedures as it is to implement procedures in your department, so be sure to not only write the steps down but also share the new processes within your department and to external stakeholders to ensure alignment and buy-in.

 

Let’s unpack how to develop procedures that help your advancement operations go more smoothly, as well as the steps to implement the program in your institution.

 

How Developing Procedures Improves Productivity

Developing Advancement Operations procedures improves productivity by streamlining existing processes.

 

You see, standard operating procedures can help bring much-needed structure to any organization. This is especially true for institutions with limited budgets and resources. But by investing the time and effort into defining standard ways of working, you save time when amidst the execution of a high-profile event or impending deadline.

 

If these procedures are developed and implemented in advance, they will be well established  (and quickly accessible) when needed most.

8 Must-Haves for Effective Procedure Documents

 

What exactly does an effective procedure document contain? When you’re compiling your procedure documents, make sure they have the eight key features listed below.

 

  • Objective: Describe what will be accomplished by using this procedure.
  • Background: Give the user some context about why this procedure was developed.
    • For example, are you trying to comply with a regulatory or institutional policy?
    • Additionally, are there any significant changes in this procedure that need to be identified upfront?
  • Scope: Describe what this procedure will address. What need will it fill?
  • Responsibilities: Provide a high-level overview of all participants and their role in the procedure.
  • Definitions: Supply a list of business terms that will be used in the procedure.
  • Process Overview: Provide a high-level description of the overall process that will be used for this procedure.
  • Procedure Steps: Describe all the key procedure steps in detail.
  • References: Create references to other related information, including policies, other procedures, forms, templates and other institutional systems.

Getting Buy-in From Stakeholders

 

To get buy-in on these procedural changes from your stakeholders, you’ll need to be transparent about what you’re trying to achieve. For instance, why are you implementing these changes now? What challenges will they solve? How will your organization improve due to the implementation of these advancement operations procedures?

 

If you’re able to answer these questions clearly and with confidence, you’re well on your way to creating an operations procedure that your stakeholders will encourage and embrace.

 

5 Steps to Implement Top-Notch Procedures in Your Organization

Now, let’s take a look at how to implement best-in-class procedures in your organization. To do so, you must take these five steps.

1. Educate Users on Best Practices

Best practices keep organizations in a position to be donor-focused and bogged down with operational challenges, so identify them early and reiterate them often. Once your users are equipped with deep knowledge of these best practices, they’ll thrive under your new procedures.

2. Standardize How Information Is Captured

When standardizing how the information you collect is captured, you’ll want to do two main things.

First of all, increase the speed of your data entry to maximize efficiency. Second, improve the accuracy of your data entry by making every extra effort to do so—without losing the speed gained from increased efficiency.

3. Decrease Ramp-Up Time for New Staff

By streamlining your training processes, you’ll decrease the ramp-up time required for new staff. Decreasing the time needed for onboarding and training is ideal at any point, but it’s especially critical when you want a new hire to dive into their workload right away.

4. Develop a Reference Library of Business Practices

Developing a reference library of business practices for all users will help you get everyone on the same page. As a bonus, it will also help you avoid receiving similar questions from different users down the line.

 

When developing your reference library, you’ll want to understand the use of reporting in procedures. This will ensure your reference library of business practices will remain relevant as the organization evolves.

5. Inform Users About How Data Entry Impacts Reporting

If users are informed about how data entry impacts reporting, they’ll be more likely to take pride (and extra care) in their data entry tasks. So, let them know the full extent of their impact.

 

Continuing the Success of Your Procedures

Continue the success of the new procedures you’ve implemented through optimized procedure management processes and robust procedure development services.

 

Procedure Management Processes

Your procedure management process should establish the procedure owner, along with any Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). This process should also educate business users on new and revised procedures.

 

Additionally, your procedure management process should establish a procedure review schedule, with a cadence that is quarterly, semi-annual or annual.

 

Lastly, procedure updates should be scheduled multiple times per year to ensure your procedures are being managed effectively.

 

Procedure Development Services

 

When developing your procedures, it’s good to have options. (Such as, a trusted advisor to counsel an organization on the critical selection and number of procedures to establish as an institutional foundation).

 

When developing these procedures, you’ll want to be mindful of the 8 Must Haves for Procedure Documentation. You should also hold regular procedure review workshops. Reviewing and validating  recently developed procedures and workflow with key stakeholders.

 

Once any revisions have been made and final sign off achieved, you can then implement the new procedure through staff training. Being sure to measure user adoption across the institution.

 

Procedure Development Planning: Final Thoughts

To recap, your procedure documents must have an objective, background, scope, responsibilities, definitions, a process overview, procedure steps and references.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

 

Not forgetting these success factors in your organization, either. They include:

  • Educating users on best practices
  • Standardizing how information is captured
  • Decreasing ramp-up time for new staff
  • Developing a reference library of business practices for all users
  • Informing users about how data entry impacts reporting

 

Once you develop and implement effective procedures, you’ll also want to manage and measure their success.

 

Procedure Development Made Easier with a Trusted Operations Partner

As a leader in higher education and/or healtchcare, it can be difficult to maintain service levels to demanding schedules and major donors. With proper standard operating procedures, your team can boost productivity while maintaining quality service.

 

Reach out for a customized consultation with Precision Partners, so you can focus on achieving your fundraising goals and maintaining excellent relationships with your donors.

How to Improve Your Advancement and IT Partnership

I often find myself at the intersection of Advancement Operations and IT Support. I consider both groups my colleagues. From each area I hear the frustrations and challenges about working together. What makes it so difficult for Advancement Operations and IT Support to work together and how can you improve these interactions?

Acknowledge and understand that you will often feel like you are speaking different languages. Use the following structure as a guide for your communication:

 

For Advancement Operations:

Discuss the business challenge that you are facing – how does it impact your daily operations? Why is it important to address now? Why do you feel that a technology solution will make it better? Discuss what you have heard and where you have received your information.

For IT Support:

Reiterate your understanding of the business challenge that Advancement Operations is facing. Actively get confirmation that you understood it correctly? Do you agree that a technical solution will achieve the desired results? If not, be very clear and specific why this is the case. If a technical solution is suitable, have you successfully addressed this issue or a similar issue before? Do you perceive any challenges or barriers to success? Are you available to help? If not, provide alternatives to address the challenge.

For Advancement Operations:

Reiterate your understanding of the technical solution, solution approach, or next steps. Actively get confirmation from IT Support that you understood it correctly. Do you perceive any challenges or barriers to success with the solution or approach? If so, be honest and discuss your concerns.

For Everyone:

All discussions should be professional and respectful. Every person in the room is an expert, it requires patience and an open mind  to communicate with colleagues who have a different expertise.

  • Be willing to explain the terms and acronyms that are second nature to you
  • Be willing to share a day in your life to provide context to the conversation
  • Be willing to stretch yourself and learn something new

CRM Implementation for Advancement – Preparing for Data Conversion

For all of my Advancement Colleagues, I have a Precision Practices tip for you. I’m going to talk about the 4 stages that will help you prepare for Data Conversion and increase the success of your CRM Implementation.

 

When I first engage with my clients, I routinely ask – what are your major concerns about the implementation? What keeps you up at night?

Data Conversion is among the top 3 most common responses that I get. Everyone has heard horror stories about the pain of realizing errors in the converted data after go-live.

Simply put, they want to know…How do I meet stakeholders’ expectations and have clean and accurate data at go-live?

If you include the following 4 stages in your data conversion you will significantly increase your data conversion success. Our clients have achieved a 98% data conversion accuracy using this methodology to prepare for data conversion

Stage 1: Data Exclusion

The first stage is data exclusion. The objective is to leave behind all data that is no longer useful to the organization.

 

Method:

  • Identify all data tables in your current database that have 0 records
  • Identify all data fields in your current database that have no data, only contain 1 unique value (ex. all records have Y)
  • Identify all data fields in your current database where there is old information that is no longer used, data that is not useful going forward, or was collected for a program/initiative that no longer exists
  • Identify all fields that you are unable provide a clear definition for or you don’t remember the data is used

Action to Take: We want to completely remove this data from even being considered during the data conversion process. Pretend that is no longer exists.

 

Stage 2: Data Archiving

The second stage is data archiving. This is historical information where we can’t definitively say it that it is no longer useful, but at the same time we cannot identify a user that would use the information on a routine basis.

 

Method:

  • Identify data tables, fields, or a subset of records that would not be useful for daily operations but would be helpful to refer to occasionally
  • Identify data tables, fields, or a subset of records that may be useful during in-depth research

Action to Take: Establish a repository for data that has been archived that can be accessed by a select group of users. This data will not be included in the data conversion to the new CRM.

 

Stage 3: Data Clean-Up

The third stage is data clean up. The objective of this stage is to identify data that has been entered incorrectly or no longer complies with your current business rules. We DO NOT want to skip this step, because moving inaccurate data into your new CRM is the quickest way to eliminate any chance of user adoption.

 

Method:

Prioritizing is critical because there’s a lot of data that we’ve collected over the years. We need to prioritize the most critical information to clean up first.

  • What information do we need on DAY 1? What is going to be the most visible to all users?
  • Are there too many records to clean-up? This may be a good time to consider data archiving or maybe even data exclusion. If the records are beyond cleanup, maybe we don’t need them at all.

Action to Take: Whenever possible, have a database programmer develop database scripts that will clean-up many records at one time. For complex data clean-up that requires careful review, provide detailed instructions to subject matter experts to spread the workload.

 

Step 4: Data Transformation

The next stage is data transformation. This process focuses on the remaining data after data exclusion, data archiving, and data clean-up. The objective is to make the data conversion as simple as possible by realigning our legacy data to closely match the structure of our new CRM database. Complex logic or spaghetti code should not exist in our data conversion scripts.

 

Method:

  • Are there multiple steps required to describe the mapping between a source field in our legacy system to a destination field in the new CRM database?
  • Have we made design decisions or established new business rules that our existing data no longer fits?

Action to Take: Have a database programmer develop scripts that will take the legacy data and transform it into a structure, format, or value required by the new CRM database

 

As a recap, we explored 4 Stages that will prepare you a data conversion and lead to success when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement:

  • Data Exclusion
  • Data Archiving
  • Data Clean-up
  • Data Transformation

Leave a comment and share your data conversion experiences. Are there additional methods you would add to this list?

Know the Difference – Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement

For all of my colleagues in Advancement Services or for anyone in charge of Advancement Information Systems; I have a Precision Practices tip for you. I’m going to talk about the difference between Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement versus Implementing CRM Software.

 

If we look at implementing new CRM software as the entirety of the project, here’s what happens…we install our software, add some configurations and customizations to make it work for our specific institution. That’s it! These items consume our focus, attention, and resources. A successful project requires much more than that, so let’s shift our thinking to Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement.

 

Let walk through what that looks like. If you focus your project on implementing an entire solution for Advancement, that does include implementing the CRM software. But we also want to integrate the CRM software into the entire fabric of the technology ecosystem that already exists.
This can include things like:

  • An integration with a Document management system
  • An integration with a Financial system
  • An integration to the Grants Management system
  • For a University, an integration with a Student Information System
  • For a Hospital, an integration with a Medical Records System

 

But we don’t stop there…

 

The second component we MUST add is how do I make the CRM software a valuable tool for every staff member that uses it. In that case, I’m actually talking about a broader component of the project that will include an on-going Training Program. From a product training perspective, all of my staff members need to have a certain level of proficiency with different modules of the CRM software. It is highly likely that I’m also going to implement new workflows. As part of my Training Program I will also need revamp my policies and procedures. The primary objective is to provide guidance and establish a new business practice in daily operations for everyone who uses the CRM software.

 

The third component we MUST consider is Data Governance. There is a lot of information that is going to move in and out of the CRM software as it becomes an integrated part of the technology ecosystem. I need to look at establishing a Data Governance Structure. This is a Committee or Team who will actually provide guidance on an on-going basis to maintain the data quality and make sure the CRM software retains useful information.

 

The fourth component when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement is populating the new CRM database with information from our existing system. How do I get my old data from my legacy system into the new CRM? This might not only be information that’s coming from the legacy system, we might also have shadow databases sitting out there that also need to be considered as well.

 

As a recap, we explored 5 Components that you MUST have equal amount attention and resources when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement:

  • Implement the new CRM software with configurations and customizations suitable for my institution
  • Integrate the new CRM software in my technology ecosystem
  • Create a comprehensive Training Program that incorporates product training and new business practices
  • Establish an ongoing Data Governance Structure
  • Identify all sources of data required to move to the new CRM database

 

If I incorporate all of these components in my project charter and project management plan, I will achieve the true benefits of the CRM software and also meet the expectations of my Advancement staff.

 

I hope you found this helpful, comment and let me know what other items you would add to a MUST DO list when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement.

A Promise of Accurate and Reliable Data – Learn How!

 

The promise of having accurate and reliable data is often made as a part of the implementation of a new CRM (constituent relationship management) software. It is that promise that often keeps every VP of Advancement/Development Services up at night trying to figure out how to miraculously transform over 10 years worth of information plagued by human error and evolving data entry procedures into something that is pristine, free of duplicates, and meaningful for all users. So why do we even take this on? Accurate and reliable data is critical to user adoption. There is no way of achieving all of the benefits that were listed in the project charter for this multi-million dollar system if no one uses it. So let’s take a look at how we can fulfill on this promise…

 

Continue reading “A Promise of Accurate and Reliable Data – Learn How!”

Why is Development and Alumni Relations Failing at Business Process Improvement?

by Mario Houston | Contact Us

Why doesn’t Business Process Improvement just happen?  This is what many universities are trying to answer.  Let me suggest a better question to ask: Why is your University Development and Alumni Relations failing at improving the critical processes that you use everyday?  Let’s investigate why this happens …

Continue reading “Why is Development and Alumni Relations Failing at Business Process Improvement?”

Are You Using the Wrong Fundraising Model?

There are two main fundraising models institutions utilize.

 

Transactional fundraising and relationship fundraising. Although fundraisers say they want to build lifelong relationships, many fall into the trap of the transactional fundraising model. Can your current fundraising practices pass the pressure test for Relationship Fundraising? Continue reading “Are You Using the Wrong Fundraising Model?”

How do you know your new fundraising system is a success? Your staff actually uses it!

 

If you are not performing this then you may be missing a great opportunity to improve the success of your new fundraising system.

 

There is really only one way to find out how your staff feels about their new fundraising platform.

Continue reading “How do you know your new fundraising system is a success? Your staff actually uses it!”

Benefits of Having a Trusted Advisor On Your Advancement Services Team – Stay Ahead of the Curve

(This is Part 2 of a 2 part article. In Part 1 talked about the top 10 reasons why you need to add a Trusted Advisor to your team. In this second part I am going to a little more in depth as to why having one will help keep you up to date on the latest tools and technologies for fundraising and philanthropy.)

 

Do you ever get the feeling that you are the last to know about the latest technology, tools, and trends in fundraising? Sometimes just the fact of being made aware of new technologies and strategies by a volunteer or the development board can send you scrambling to implement the latest shiny new tool without the benefit of a well thought out plan or strategy.

 

Maintaining or stabilizing your current operations is important and can take up the majority of your time and focus. As important as that is, it is also imperative you continually strive to evolve and improve the operations. The competitive and ever changing landscape of fundraising demands that you stay current in the latest trends and technology. Without staying current your organization won’t have the right information to make key strategic decisions that will impact your overall success.

 

How are you supposed to accomplish all of this?

 

One solution is to dedicate 15% of your staff’s time to tracking and staying on top of the latest trends and technology. Have them get to know the vendors to discover and evaluate what new technology is out there and then determine what will work best for your organization. Have the team spend some time forecasting not only what trends and tools work today but how it will impact you in the future. By doing this you can stay ahead of the game and plan your next move.

 

Simple right?

 

Okay, we know that while that might work, the reality is neither you nor your staff have the time to do all that. As well-meaning as you might be to try, your day is too busy putting out fires and just trying to keep up with the backlog of projects. Your staff doesn’t have the time to stay current on everything that is changing and developing. The problem becomes the more it is neglected the further behind you are in terms of the latest technology used that makes all your efforts successful. It’s like being with a group of your friends while they are looking up restaurants in the area on their cell phones while you look at your old flip phone that doesn’t know what a browser or app is.

 

So what is the solution?

 

What about a trusted advisor that you can turn to that will provide you the information you need on a regular basis? Someone that specializes in knowing the fundraising market, knows the technology, vendors and trends. Someone that has the relationships built with vendors that would allow them to sit down and evaluate what will work for you. Your advisor needs to be someone that knows your organizational culture and business practices. Someone that can sift through all the noise and clutter and present you solid solutions to your fundraising technology needs. Someone that will listen and be able to advise you what will work now and in the future.

 

Your organization, the donors and your staff deserves the very best. By adding a trusted advisor that knows the industry and is interested in your success you can achieve excellence.

 

If you are want to be ahead of the curve in knowing the latest tools, technology, and trends in fundraising, give me call at (424)206-5379.

 

Profile picture

Dauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.

Top 10 Benefits of Having a Trusted Advisor On Your Advancement Services Team

(Because this is such an important topic I decided to run a two part article. The following is part 1.)

At some point it becomes necessary to bring on a trusted advisor to take your fundraising efforts to the next level.

As with any business endeavor it helps to get the perspective of someone that is outside the normal team. There are several reasons for this. You don’t have the needed expertise, people who work together every day become comfortable with the way things are and sometimes overlook things, sometimes things just need a fresh perspective from someone that knows the industry and what your needs are.

After all many successful people have business coaches, companies hire security consultants to get an impartial audit of systems and policies, insurance or benefit advisors make suggestions as to the best plans for the company employees and list goes on.

Advancement Services provides the backbone of your philanthropy operations. Doesn’t it make sense that your Advancement Services Team has a trusted advisor to depend on?

The top 10 benefits of having a Trusted Advisor to empower your Advancement Services Team are:

 

  1. You want to expand and grow, to do this you have to take on projects that you have never done before. Having a trusted advisor who has the experience to guide you will not only reduce costly mistakes but assist in guiding you and your team to achieve the outcome you desire.

 

  1. You gain the confidence and continued support when collaborating or brainstorming with an expert. Instead of getting a staffer to research and analyze something in an attempt to determine if it is right approach, a trusted advisor will have the knowledge to quickly determine the right direction and present it to you.

 

  1. When you are inundated with requests for improvements or new technology a trusted advisor is able to give you an objective evaluation of what to do next that will align with your strategic vision and produce the most value.

 

  1. When you are faced with continual resource constraints having a trusted advisor on your side can help you develop and present a case for not only more but the right staff or technology.

 

  1. A knowledgeable expert on your team will be able to evaluate and give objective feedback on the health of your projects in progress and also provide an impartial assessment of the level of risk in your current business practices.

 

  1. A trusted advisor, that knows your industry, can assist you in assessing the skills of the staff and provide training and professional development coaching tailored specifically to your needs and goals.

 

  1. When you conduct executive briefings for your Chief Philanthropy Officer (CPO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO) having a trusted advisor, who is an industry expert, assisting in the briefing will help you to deliver information in a clear and informative way. The added benefit of having an expert with you in briefings is that it will help you convey your message in a persuasive and powerful manner.

 

  1. Continuity in the face of staffing changes. Things happen, people leave or have extended periods of absence. A trusted advisor, who understands the overall goals, can maintain momentum of the strategic plan and assist in the selection and orientation of new staff.

 

  1. A trusted advisor can provide you with access to a network of vendors, contracted resources for staff augmentation, and contacts at other organizations similar to yours. An industry expert will have the necessary contacts and resources, that you may not have, that can help get you to the next level.

 

  1. Having a trusted advisor brings you to the next level by achieving excellence through continued process improvement in records management, gift processing, prospect research, and portfolio management. Adding an industry expert on your team will help you incorporate industry best practices and keep you informed on how other organizations may achieve success.

 

Having a trusted advisor to guide you can mean the difference in standing still or propelling your efforts to the next level.

(In Part 2 we will discuss how having a Trusted Advisor is imperative when it comes to keeping up with the latest tools and technology in philanthropy.)

 

If you have the challenge of mounting demands and not enough resources,contact us at (424) 206-5379 to discuss how to jumpstart your productivity in the new fiscal year.

 

Profile pictureDauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.

How to Select the Right Project Manager to migrate your Fundraising Database to a New CRM system

 

Now that you have finally decided to migrate all the fundraising data you have in various places to a sleek new CRM database there remains only one problem.

How are you going to achieve a donor database that provides clean data, solid reports and a staff that buys into the process?

Who are you going to put in charge of this monumental task?


In the early days of using computers, to manage fundraising databases, most organizations relegated this task to programmers. The organization didn’t understand the technology needed and didn’t want to be bothered as long as they could get the information they needed. The result was a programmer, with little knowledge of the industry, developing and acting as the Project Manager for the most important tool in your fundraising arsenal.

Selecting the right Project Manager is integral for your fundraising database migration and can mean the difference in having the project done right, in budget and on time or incurring cost and time overruns and not achieving the desired outcome.

 

An article by Benoit Hardy-Vallee, PHD, at Gallup states that there are 3 main reasons for project failures:

  1. Technical
  2. Individual
  3. Stakeholder

When selecting a Project Manager these are the 4 key elements you need to consider:

  1. A Dedicated Resource

The project manager must be available as a full time resource to the project. They cannot juggle their duties as the Director of Advancement Services or Manager of Information Support Services and lead this effort. Many have tried and learned that both the project and the operational duties have suffered.

  1. Domain or Subject Matter Expertise

Do they have the technical expertise and understand the fundraising business. Does the Project Manager have a successful track record of implementing the right systems and procedures that you need in order to achieve the desired goals in your organization? Your CRM database is the lifeblood of the fundraising process and it is imperative the Project Manager you choose understand the process. The consequence of not having someone with the technical and industry knowledge will result in simply going through the motions and not achieving the desired outcome.

  1. Leadership Skills

Do they have the necessary skills to pull together a cross functional team and move them toward the desired goal. The ability to communicate, assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses and maximize the productivity of the team members ensures not only the individual team members professional growth but ensures a cohesive team. When conflicts arise do they have the leadership skills to resolve the conflicts in a constructive and professional manner?

  1. Process Improvement and System Implementation

Database migration is never simply a technology project. User involvement, Executive buy in and facilitating the next generation of fundraising are all goals that need to be achieved. Failure to do so results in having the same inefficient processes, just using new technology. To fully realize a return on your investment the right Project Manager will implement the right processes and procedures tailored to your specific needs.

The right Project Manager will have the skills necessary to build teams, effectively manage time, have cross functional thinking, set priorities, coach, facilitate and delegate and most importantly, successfully deliver the desired results.

Selecting the right project manager is the determining factor in successfully implementing a new CRM database that will enable you to achieve your fundraising and engagement goals.

Leave a comment – We’d Love to Hear from You

What has been your experience – any lessons learned? Are there other factors when selecting a project manager that has impacted your project in any way?

 

Profile pictureDauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.

Calling all Frontline Fundraisers – What’s in it for You?

Institutions are now required by their Boards to provide more transparency and accountability for Fundraising Campaigns. This has prompted an array of metrics that not only evaluate progress towards fundraising goals but also evaluates daily productivity.

Here are some metrics that might look familiar…

  • Number of Face to Face Visits
  • Number of Phone Calls
  • Number of Proposals Made
  • Average Time Spent in Cultivation
  • % Increase in the Number of Donors in Your Portfolio
  • % Increase in Dollars Raised from Donors in Your Portfolio

While there is no denying that this information is beneficial to Executive Management and the Board in evaluating progress and performance, what benefits do you receive as a frontline fundraiser? Share how you use Fundraising Metrics  – What works? What doesn’t work?

Leave a comment or email me at dauwn@precisionpartners.org

Are you learning your lessons too late?

If you are a diligent Project Sponsor and made sure that your team complied with industry best practices at the end of your project you participated in a Lessons Learned activity that pulled together the entire team to reflect on the project…

  • What worked worked well in the course of the project?
  • In what areas are there opportunities for improvement?
  • How can we get better results?

As each team members settles into the meeting usually on pins and needles expecting to be the target of rapid fire accusations for everything that went wrong. The project manager eases some of the tensions by establishing some ground rules and creating a learning environment for constructive feedback and solutions oriented thinking.

There is an uncomfortable silence until the one brave soul finally starts the conversation…

“Well, I thought adding an ice breaker to each meeting with our stakeholders got them more engaged, this turned into lively discussions and we were able to get more information about their needs, wants, expectations, and requirements. But, our method of managing the information was a little haphazard and it led to a lot of confusion and having to ask the same questions repeatedly.”

It just takes one person to start the conversation, pretty soon you can hardly keep up while one person after another chimes in with more examples. There is a frantic chorus of “oh yeah”, ” I agree”, “I remember that” as people start to dust off the cob webs of their memory to retrieve anecdotes, funny stories, unusual requests, victories, and defeats giving life to these project moments all over again.

It’s hard to disturb the conversation because you witness the natural team building and human connection that occurs during this process. The energy in the room is completely different than when meeting started, but there is still work to do. The project manager refocuses the team’s attention on the list of items identified for improvement. Its time to offer solutions and action planning – what can we do better? Once again a flurry of comments, suggestions, procedural solutions, system solutions, training solutions.

You are impressed by the wealth of information that was collected that will inform the next project. You are even more impressed by the process of collaboration, camaraderie, and collective problem solving. You compliment your Project Manager  for a job well done and feel satisfied that you are now equipped with insights for improvement.

So what happens next…


Nothing – Life goes on!

I am not making any judgements or accusations, I am just stating reality. It is rare that the lessons learned document that was created is even referenced after that initial meeting and as much as it pains me to say it, all of the great ideas for making things better in your organization are long forgotten.

So why does this happen?

This method does not take into account that there is a 90 day window where people must start seeing results to enact any real change. In other words you have 90 days to 1) clarify the idea or suggestion for improvement 2) create an action plan 3) get buy in 4) implement it (at least on a small scale) 5) measure it 6) communicate the results.

You’re probably thinking that this sounds like another project,  I don’t have time for that. What if I told you that this is possible by changing your team’s approach to the lessons learned process?

If you incorporate the lessons learned throughout your project, you will see the following benefits:

Effective Team Building – Lessons Learned activities during the project allow the team to collaborate and problem solve on real situations, not manufactured or simulated activities.

Culture of Continuous Improvement – Creating a culture of continuous improvement through frequent lessons learned activities allows for course corrections or change to occur in a timely manner. You have an opportunity to beat the 90 day time clock. Your team can actually learn the lesson and do something about it.

Increase Team Performance – Remember earlier how I described the anxiety in the room at the beginning of the lessons learned activity. This anxiety didn’t just appear, it has hampered your team throughout the project. By having lessons learned activities throughout the project, you give your team the opportunity to identify the problem, determine a solution, and move on. This eliminates a burden that often impacts performance.

If you are able realize these 3 benefits, not only have you sponsored a successful project, but you have impacted the way your team collaborates for future success. Doesn’t that seem like a lesson worth learning?

If you are the Project Sponsor for a non-profit CRM implementation and want to give your team the tools to be successful, send me a quick email at dauwn@precisionpartners.org to request a free project strategy session.

Author: Dauwn Parker, Principal Consultant – Precision Partners

This is not warm and fuzzy

I worked with one of my clients to plan the kick off meeting for their CRM Implementation project. I started with my workshop Tools and Techniques – Planning a Successful Project Kick Off Meeting and the team was brainstorming on how to meet each objective of the meeting..

Inspire – establish a context that is larger than the project

Inform – define the project, clearly communicate to users the impact of their involvement,  and establish how they will receive more information

Engage – get users involved right from the start

In prior discussions my client expressed concerns about getting their users involved in the project, so I suggested that they conduct a commitment exercise during the kick off meeting.

Here’s how it works…

  • Users  are given cards during the meeting to write down their commitment to making the project successful. To make the directions clear, you can have the cards pre-printed with “My commitment to  [Your Project Name] is …”
  • Executive leadership and project team members publicly share their commitment to the project
  • All of the cards are posted on a visual display and should be referenced throughout the project.

After explaining the commitment exercise I could tell something was wrong, the energy and excitement was sucked out of the room in a matter of seconds.  Finally, one of the project team members let the cat out of the bag – “We don’t do warm and fuzzy here, these type of activities never work”

Here is the reality…there is nothing warm and fuzzy about this commitment exercise. If you are not able to engage your users in your CRM implementation, you don’t have a chance at success.

This is the kick off meeting, the very start of the project, you are still in the honeymoon phase, if you are unable to engage your users at this stage, its time to roll up your sleeves and do some heavy lifting. The benefit of doing an exercise like this, even if it fails, it gives you a critical piece of information that you didn’t have before – are your users engaged in the project? If the answer is NO, its time to get a plan of action in place to get them engaged. This is all a part of change management and any strategies surrounding change management takes into account human responses and natural tendencies. What is clear is that people are rarely inspired by technology, but they are inspired by 1)achieving excellence 2)making a difference or knowing that their contribution made an impact 3)being a part of something bigger than themselves. With any CRM implementation the technology is a tool that enables you to achieve your organizational mission. Focus on that aspect during your kick off meeting, this is what people really care about.

So with a little trust in their project advisor, my client included the commitment exercise in the project kick off meeting – It was a huge success! 

Let me share with you what worked well…

The VP of Development gave an inspiring talk that created a context for the CRM implementation project and concluded with a clear call to action. Each person was charged with “making [the institution] a world class fundraising organization.”

The Project Manager provided clear information about the project approach and how users would get involved and most importantly the impact of their involvement on project success.

I moderated a discussion panel to inform users about Constituent Relationship Management strategies. The panelists provided their insights into the keys to success for a CRM implementation and any lessons learned from prior experiences.

The results…the board that was purchased to display the project commitments could not hold all of the cards because the response from users was overwhelming. Prior to the meeting the team was concerned that people would not even write one sentence – they wrote paragraphs about what they were willing to do to make the project a success. The users even waited in long lines to make sure that their commitment card was posted on the board for everyone to see.

If you are planning a new CRM implementation or planning the next phase of your CRM implementation and would like to increase the success of your project by having your users engaged from start to finish give me a call at 424.206.5379 or email me at dauwn@precisionpartners.org so we can set up a time to talk.

Let’s evaluate your CRM

Author: Dauwn Parker, Principal Consultant at Precision Partners

Maximizing the benefits of Constituent Relationship Management systems has become critical for organizations that are looking to solidify the long-term viability of their fundraising, advocacy, and advancement programs. This has created an urgency for organizations to find answers to the following question…

Why do so many Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementations fall short in the following ways?

    • Meeting the expectations of its users
    • Being the catalyst that transforms how the organization relates to its constituents
    • Ushering users into the age of “Self-Service”
    • Realizing the Return on Investment

THE CHALLENGE..

These common barriers to success are often the culprit that limit the success of a CRM implementation

Hurdle #1: Defining project objectives and measurable factors for success

With the pressure of developing an RFP, selecting a software vendor, packaging a project proposal and justification for board approval, magically garnering resources that are already overloaded – this critical step is often lost in the shuffle.

Hurdle #2: Implementation Preparation

CRM Implementations are often a new endeavor for an organization and the members of the project team. This often leads to the phenomenon of You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. This lack of knowledge and preparation can limit project success before it even gets started and in most cases the impact isn’t realized until the project is well underway.

Hurdle #3: Support for Project Leadership

Software implementations are demanding and projects that seek to revolutionize the way an organization interacts with its constituents increases the need for peak performance by the Project Manager. All too often the Project Manager is asked to run the implementation marathon without a coach, proper training, preparation, or continued support.

Hurdle #4: Project Team Performance

Project team members must be fully engaged to become a high performing team. Fully engaged does not equate to a dedicated resource. No matter how much or how little a person is allocated to a project, the following factors must be present for a high performing team to emerge:

  • A team identity
  • Clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and expectations
  • Above all else a commitment to the success of the team
  • Continual reinforcement that their contribution is integral to the success of the team
  • Recognition and Appreciation
  • Personal and professional growth or value in their engagement

Hurdle #5: Project Health Assessments

Project status is most often measured by whether the project is on time, within budget, and the software application is delivered according to the documented specifications. While these are important elements to monitor this does not speak to the overall health of the project. Did the methods used to deliver a quality product on time and within budget cause a loss of trust between project team members or stakeholders, disintegration of cross departmental relationships, or loss of credibility for the project sponsor or sponsoring department? Most organizations would say that any of these negative impacts are not acceptable, but it often happens in projects without a structure for prevention or intervention.

Hurdle #6: Stakeholder Engagement and User Adoption

Many projects manage to engage a core set of team members who develop a solution that they wholeheartedly believe will meet the needs of the organization. It is the biggest threat to morale when after such a strenuous effort, the software application does not meet the most basic needs of some key stakeholders and declared unusable.

If you are currently facing these challenges that are threatening the success of your CRM implementation, Precision Partners Project Advisory Services is your solution.  

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