Series 1 finale – Hart Square Podcast

We have spent almost 12 years dedicated to the non-profit sector and this year we wanted to find new ways to share the range of valuable insights we have gathered over this time.

As well as sharing our thoughts and perspectives about the current and future digital challenges existing in the non-profit sector, we wanted you to get to know us a bit better. We thought what better way than creating a podcast! And so, the Hart Square Podcast was born.

We have just finished our first series of 6 episodes where Rob Dobell, Managing Director of Hart Square, and I, discussed a range of topics with our team, across the themes of Digital, Leadership, Culture, and Capability. We covered the importance of research when selecting new CRM technology, what does digital transformation really mean for a non-profit and how to build a successful project team, just to name a few.

We really enjoyed putting together our first podcast series and it seems you have too with the positive feedback we have been receiving! So, you will be pleased to hear that we are now planning ahead to series two which will be published every 2 weeks from September 2021.

Whilst we look forward to series two, now is your chance to let us know what topics or guests you would like to hear from. Let us know by sending us a message on Twitter, Linkedin or by sending us an email to 

Whilst you eagerly anticipate series two, don’t forget series one is available on your usual podcast provider or by clicking the links below.

Listen now to The Hart Square Podcast 

We look forward to seeing you on the next episode!

If you want to learn more about digital transformation and project management, check out the online project management training that could complement your knowledge on this topic.

Part 2: Are you a part of a learning organisation?

In part one of this article, I talked about how becoming a learning organisation can unlock the potential contained in a system and explored how effective learning can take place at the individual level. In part two, I will discuss how you can ensure effective learning can take place at both the team and organisational level.

Team development 

At the team level, the learning needs to focus on collective observation and reflection, based around a framework of shared goals and mission. This also goes hand in hand with a supportive environment where rather than blame and recrimination for sub-standard performance, the team is supportive and involved in helping all members to develop capability and increase contribution. This requires an openness to discussing individual behaviours in response to feedback and to apply and continually monitor these behaviours, and the use of collaboration tools and the sharing of individual knowledge is essential to facilitating this. 

So, in effect there are four major areas for consideration: 

  1. the purpose of the team and the team success criteria 
  2. the make-up and dynamics of the team 
  3. the design of the technical infrastructure to support the team 
  4. the process of team development 

Specific behaviours that lead to team development include: 

  • members having a range of overlapping skills and competencies 
  • the leader acting as a coach and mentor, rather than a traditional supervisor 
  • problems seen as collective issues to be resolved, not just managers problem 
  • teams developing their own solutions 
  • teams setting and monitoring their own targets – and monitoring these 
  • members having direct customer contact wherever practical (customers may be external or internal) 
  • the need for constant personal upgrading is recognised and encouraged by all team members 
  • rewards are diverse and situational 

Organisational learning 

At the organisational level, there may be considerable barriers to the development of collective learning, including a lack of recognition of the need within the staff body, functional and geographic barriers (especially since Covid-19), a risk-averse culture, and a lack of buy-in and encouragement from leaders at all levels of the organisation. 

In order for organisational learning to continually take place, there has to be an organisational commitment to allowing it, through planning, policies, encouragement, recognition and investment, both in technology and human resource. 

The organisation has to critically examine and be honest about identifying and measuring its’ core competencies and addressing the deficits that exist. 

There may be a performance gap relating to a lack of efficiency in cost, quality, response time to queries and requests for service which can be directly addressed but there may also be an opportunity gap. 

An opportunity gap is an area where resources could be profitably deployed to create new opportunities, whether new markets, products and services or generating more customers/members. Addressing an opportunity gap is a more problematic activity but can be addressed in part through: 

  • Gaining staff commitment to innovative approaches 
  • Leveraging resources to focus on functionalities rather than products and services 
  • Energising the whole organisation to concentrate efforts by developing a collective mindset, shared goals and developing strategies for acquiring and deploying the individual knowledge and competencies to the common good 
  • The development of governance processes that foster ever-better quality of relationships across traditional business units and functions and sees the collective learning spanning organisational boundaries 

For organisational learning to develop there needs to be more than just information passing. There needs to be sharing of individual and team learning and the willingness to invest in the technical infrastructure to support this. 

Are you looking to implement new technology and want to ensure you can unlock the potential contained in the system? Get in touch to find out how we can support you.

6 top tips for deriving benefits after your technology go-live

After the hard work and investment, you need to ensure you’re getting value from your system and your project is delivering the benefits it’s supposed to. So here are our 6 top tips for deriving benefits after your technology go-live. 

Download the 6 top tips for deriving benefits after your technology go-live


For further information and expert guidance on realising the benefits of your new technology, attend our free training on How to ensure your project delivers real benefit.

Busting the myths of

With Lianne McGrory UK & Ireland Country Manager at and Rob Dobell Managing Director at Hart Square.

At Hart Square, we provide a range of guidance and support services exclusively to non-profits who are considering changes to their technology. Our advice is completely technology-agnostic and to help our clients make the right choices for them, we make it a priority to keep in close touch with the many organisations which can offer solutions to the non-profit sector, including  

Whilst is one of the best-known CRM systems, and we consider it to be a strong proposition for non-profits, we have found that sector has not embraced it to the extent we might expect.  

With that in mind, last month Rob Dobell, Managing Director at Hart Square was joined on an expert panel by Lianne McGrory, UK & Ireland Country Manager at They tackled some of the most common questions that they hear from non-profits and busted some of the myths around 

Salesforce have had a specific non-profit offering for the last 11 years, previously the Salesforce Foundation, have had a specific non-profit offering for the last 11 years, Lianne explained. “This is a pre-built package on top of Salesforce technology, built specifically for non-profits, speaking their language, and built to follow their processes.” 

Philanthropy has been at the heart of Salesforce since its inception, when it was set up with the 1-1-1 model in which 1% of the Salesforce technology, income and volunteer time would go back into the non-profit sector. As part of this model of giving back, provide 10 free licences to any charity in the world. Lianne explained that of the 3,500 organisations in the UK and Ireland which use Salesforce technology, 65% are using their free licences.  

As the client, you do not need to have huge amounts of technical knowledge  

Rob and Lianne explained that a common misconception of implementing a Salesforce solution is that, in addition to the implementation partner, you need lots of client-side technical knowledge. Rob explained that this is not the case, but you do need to be able to describe what you need from the technology. Additionally, you may want to provide some form of training for your team to ensure you can get the best out of the solution.  

Understanding the costs and complexity 

There is still some perception that it is difficult to calculate the full cost of a project. Rob and Lianne explain that at the early stages of any change project, you should work out your goals for the project and gather a clear set of requirements. At the end of the discovery phase, you will be able to solidify the scope of the project with associated costs and timelines. Rob details that it is important to be disciplined throughout the project, holding new ideas for later developments, to ensure you can protect both your time and budget.  

Lianne also added, that if you have chosen Salesforce technology and you are concerned about costs and complexity, it is important to voice your concerns with the Salesforce team as there may be ways to cap, limit or predict changes in costs over time.  

Hart Square’s Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits 

At Hart Square, we believe is a strong offering to the non-profit sector and we have set out to explain it our Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits which you can download for free here 

The full panel interview, including the live Q&A, with Lianne McGrory UK & Ireland Country Manager at and Rob Dobell Managing Director at Hart Square is available to watch back here 


Key considerations for a successful system implementation

Being prepared for a system implementation is key for overall project success. This stage will determine whether your project will stay on track and you will be able to realise the benefits of the new system. From the numerous implementations we have been a part of, here are the key considerations we have identified to achieve a successful systems implementation. 

Download the Key considerations for a successful system implementation infographic

Planning resources  

The balance of work across a project lifetime is significant. Projects require considerable resources – the highest risk to success is to underestimate this. 

Vital documents 

There are a variety of essential documents which are vital tools to ensure your project remains on track. These include communication reports as well as status reports.  

Data migration  

We see many CRM implementation projects taking longer than they should because the data isn’t ready. Clean, de-dupe, consolidate and rationalise your data before moving it to your new system. This takes time so get a head start on this process early.  

Communication with your technology partner  

Having clear and honest communication with your technology partner is vital to success. Ensure you each have clearly established roles and responsibilities and have agreed targets, including KPI’s. 

Testing the system 

The purpose of testing is to verify the system. It ensures the system meets the requirements that guided its design and development and performs its functions within an acceptable time. To help guide you through the testing phase, you should establish a clear test plan.  

Training your team 

Training is a key element in delivering successful implementations. It is important to deliver training which engages individuals and motivates them to embrace the change.  

Planning your go-live 

It’s important to consider and plan your go-live as there will inevitably be an increased workload during the change. You must plan resources accordingly and only go-live when key resources are available. 

If you would like to know more about how to achieve a successful systems implementation, join us for Module 5 of the Hart Square Training Programme, where we will provide you with the insight, tools and templates to achieve success.  

Are you part of a learning organisation?

Knowledge is the lifeblood of the organisation

You’ve invested large amounts of finance, time and effort in a new customer or member management system, linked it to your website and accounting application. You analysed and documented the organisation’s business requirements, considered how processes might change as a result of having the new system and spent a lot of time ensuring that all that old, redundant or inaccurate data was cleansed, de-duplicated and updated. 

But what comes next? 

How do you really start to unlock all the potential contained in the system and how do you exploit this?

Access to new technology, linked with news paradigms of work due to many external factors means that you also need to consider your workforce and their potential as the major resource now available. Staff have to be capable of quickly changing to new working practices and systems, managers have to be effective at managing the change and the organisation has to become much more flexible than previously required. 

At the heart of this is the potential to change to new hierarchies of work that often cut across traditional organisational boundaries and make use not just of quicker responses and better data but of the knowledge that is now unlocked and available to staff.  This knowledge is the lifeblood of the new organisation and comes from being able to link and make inferences about customers and members, from being able to analyse and anticipate their behaviours and developing products and strategies to take advantage of this knowledge. The intellectual capability of staff becomes an ever more important resource as the knowledge-based contribution they make increases.  

Invest in the intellectual capability of your staff

In response many organisations are recognising the importance of becoming learning organisations, placing a different emphasis on staff development away from traditional, individual training and into organisational learning. 

The concept of organisational learning is based on the idea that new ideas and experiences themselves don’t lead to organisational improvement, only people can translate these ideas into action and this needs to be planned and managed at three levels: 

  1. Individual 
  2. Team 
  3. Organisation 

Individual intellectual competence 

For effective learning to take place at the individual level it’s essential to foster an environment where they are encouraged to take risks, where mistakes are tolerated but where there is a designed approach to learning from these mistakes, through follow-up action and reflection on the activity and the outcomes, and the sharing of the learning across teams and the wider organisation. 

In part two of this article, which will be published next month, I will explore how you can ensure effective learning can take place at both the team and organisational level. Ensure you do not miss this, and much more by signing up for updates below and get our latest articles, insights and events sent to you.

7 top tips for Preparing for Go-Live

The go-live date is the one eagerly anticipated date everyone in the project works hard towards. However, there are many go-live activities that need careful planning and preparation to ensure it is a success.

Following the numerous go-live days we have supported, we have gathered our 7 top tips for preparing for go-live.

1. Share supporting resources:  

  • Ensure all project stakeholders have the resources to support go-live including any 3rd parties affected by the go-live date   
  • And get their time booked in and protected 

2. Plan clear roles and responsibilities:  

  • Have clear roles & responsibilities for your project team on the day of Go-Live 
  • And make sure these are published so everyone affected by the go-live knows who’s doing what 

3. Agree communication channels:  

  • Agree on suitable communications channels & frequencies to update each stakeholder group on the Go-Live day 
  • And allocate one person whose first priority is to respond to inbound communications 

4. Complete checklist:  

  • Ensure you have completed a pre go-live checklist of all key actions which is signed off before the go-live is committed to 
  • And equally, draw up a clear post go-live checklist for the Project team to sign off as agreement that the go-live is secure and robust 

5. Agree amendments 

  • Agree with the technology partners a timeline for any post go-live amendments to be completed from the testing phase 
  • And ensure everyone is clear on whether this is within the agreed budget or go-live or additional to it 

6. Plan final meeting and agree backup plans:  

  • Schedule in a final no/go meeting on the day of Go-Live with everyone present and an agreed set of decision criteria to assess 
  • And make sure you have backup plans to allow for every scenario from approving go-live to executing a rollback, with interim options for extending the go-live period, again based on clear milestones and criteria 

7. Agree post go-live support:  

  • Agree on a period of intense post go-live support with all technology partners  
  • And make sure all system users are expecting a period of disruption while the system beds in 

For guidance on delivering successful projects, choosing the right technology partner, or embarking on a digital transformation programme contact us to find out how we can help you. 

6 reasons why a dedicated project manager will help your project succeed

A dedicated project manager can be vital to the success of your digital project. Discover the 6 reasons why a dedicated project manager will help your project succeed.

Click here to download the 6 reasons why a dedicated project manager will help your project succeed infographic

  1. Organisational skills – a highly organised individual will ensure your project remains on track and will have a firm handle on how to get the best from your organisation 
  2. Keep focus – they will prioritise and manage conflicting priorities which can otherwise cause major issues for your project. 
  3. Organisational understanding – they can gather an excellent understanding of the current and future needs of your organisation and a working knowledge of all areas of the business 
  4. Communication – they will have great communication skills to be able to engage at all levels within your organisation and with external partners 
  5. Partner management – their ability to manage partners and their deliverables can ensure priorities and resources are correctly aligned with internal teams  
  6. Proven track record – this means they are experienced in your kind of project for your kind of organisation! 

For guidance on delivering successful projects, choosing the right technology partner, or embarking on a digital transformation programme contact us to find out how we can help you. 

Agile Planning Done Right


It’s a term that you are sure to hear from nearly every one of the technology partners that we work with. While a few claim that they are fully Agile, many others will tell you that they work in a hybrid way.

Typically, in my experience, the majority of our partners will combine a Waterfall discovery process and full, end-to-end specification, with an iterative Agile development. But there is more to Agile than simply developing and releasing in bursts. While you may be nervous starting a project without defining all your needs in detail, Agile is not a methodology that lacks a plan. In fact, a cycle of planning and re-planning is baked into the method.

Agile is not a methodology that lacks a plan

Where’s my specification?

Yes, it’s true…

When working in a fully Agile project you will not be given a detailed specification. Instead, after the discovery process you will receive a number of high-level Features. These features will describe the functionality required but not at the same level of detail as a ‘Waterfall’ specification. The full project team, both partner and client, will then meet to agree the Feature roadmap, assign effort (budget), and agree the ‘minimum viable product’ – the smallest, most high-value, functionality that you require for your business-as-usual at go live.

This approach is not disadvantageous; it is highly collaborative, with the partner able to comment on the likely complexity of the work required to support your needs, with you providing insight into your business priorities, and the highest value functional items, to agree a delivery roadmap. The process cannot work without this symbiotic relationship between partner and client.

And, importantly, this relationship continues throughout the development sprints.

Agile (Adjective); Able to move quickly and easily

A detailed specification provides reassurance; everything you think you need is written down and you have signed it off. But what if things change? The Discovery process missed something? Or, when Sprint 3 starts, the partner suddenly realises that the requirements are more complex than first assumed. All these items result in change requests, additional cost, and additional time. With little opportunity for you to understand or discuss them or investigate alternative approaches.

Because an Agile methodology continues to define the detailed requirements (user stories) throughout the development process, there continues to be a very close and collaborative relationship between you the client and the partner. This means that you can change, adapt, and reprioritise your requirements as the business changes. It enables discussion around the full range of potential solutions to a business need, whether a fully automated technical solution, or a change to your business processes, as you see and learn about your new systems, and it means that the project can flex within the budget available.

It’s a Sprint, not a Marathon

Each development Sprint is preceded by a dedicated planning session where the whole project team, including the partner’s business analysts and developers, will meet to discuss the users stories, the effort (and therefore the budget) required to deliver them and their value to the business. The backlog of undelivered user stories can be stack ranked (prioritised) and many user stories parked before development effort is spent on them.

This continuous cycle of discovery, user story prioritisation and planning for each and every Sprint empowers you as the client; it allows you to understand the impact on the project budget of each and every deliverable, and make better decisions based on the cost versus value of every item. This level of transparency and collaboration throughout the development, I believe, can often be missing from a hybrid approach leading to higher costs and an extended timeline.


There are many myths about the Agile Methodology, and it is certainly a very different project experience for a client. The lack of an upfront, detailed specification, however, does not mean that Agile lacks a plan. In fact, when Agile is done right the opposite is true, but with more opportunity to flex, change and adapt as the project progresses, and your business changes.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

Nobody starts a project because they want to fail. However, in our recent survey, 48% of 1000+ non-profit leaders said their digital project failed to meet its objectives and was ultimately unsuccessful. So how can you beat the odds?

A lack of planning is just one of the many reasons why we see projects fail. Whilst it can be tempting to dive straight in and explore new technologies and their shiny features, we cannot underestimate the value of planning and preparing your organisation for the change.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

So how can you plan for success?

Know where you are now

Often organisations know where they should be and what they would like to achieve but are just not sure how to get there. To identify the route to success, you need to have an in-depth understanding of where you are now. The planning stage gives you the opportunity to explore the issues and challenges your organisation is experiencing and to understand their root causes. This ultimately puts you in the best position to find the best solution.

Be clear on your objectives

Creating clear objectives and strategic goals for your organisation and your project provides you with a direction of travel and will help you remain on track and motivated throughout the project.

Projects can take a long time to complete, and project fatigue is inevitable. But in the moments where you ask yourself “why are we doing this again?” you should be able to answer clearly with the value this will provide to not only your organisation but also your members and donors.

Map your direction of travel

A roadmap is a key element of your plan for success. It will pave the way to achieving your ambitions by highlighting key milestones, both short and long term, and identifying any risk factors. Knowing the potential challenges ahead gives you the best opportunity to overcome them.

However, it is worth noting that your roadmap will need to be reviewed throughout the project. New opportunities, as well as new challenges, may arise, and you need to be flexible to be able to take advantage and overcome anything that comes your way.

Don’t go it alone

Resistance can be detrimental to the success of your project. We are creatures of habit and so are often resistant to change, no matter how beneficial the change may be for us. We like to do things that make us feel secure and comfortable and changes bring the fear of the unknown.

However, creating an effective business case that clearly communicates the key benefits the investment will provide to your organisation will provide a solid foundation where everyone can agree on a way forward. It will also support decision-making by providing clarity on options, costs, and implications.

It’s just beginning

There are lots of moving elements within a project that can determine your success. Project governance and the role of a project team are to name but a few. But you can plan for them.

To find out more about planning for success, attend our free Training Programme on How to deliver successful projects, specifically Module 2: The essentials of planning successful projects, where you will receive free resources and templates to help you plan for success.