12 reasons CRM projects succeed

There are studies, statistics, articles, reviews and infographics galore to tell us how many projects / IT projects / CRM projects fail every year.

They may not all have a shared definition of failure or agree on the actual numbers, but the accepted narrative is certainly that a large number of technology projects fail.

You’ve probably heard all this before, and, to be honest, these grim facts aren’t very inspiring or very helpful. So, let’s turn it on its head. Yes, many projects fail, but a whole heap of them succeed!

At Hart Square, we specialise in supporting non-profits adapt to the digital age, which will often involve the initiation of projects to implement new technology.

We want to share the knowledge and expertise gained through our involvement in numerous successful projects, to help others to succeed, so have put together our “12 Reasons CRM Projects Succeed” eBook.

Please complete the short form to receive a copy of the eBook.

For more insight into how to run successful projects, sign up for our free Training Programme on that very topic!

Hart Square’s Definitive Guide to Salesforce for Non-Profits

At Hart Square we’re completely agnostic when it comes to the technology choices our non-profit clients make, but we’re deeply familiar with the options available to them. We spend a lot of time and effort researching the market and keeping in close touch with the many agencies who offer solutions to the sector. The research we do includes monitoring trends as reported (or suggested) but also involves our own discussions with clients past and present, and across our extensive network of contacts within the sector.

Since the early 2010’s the so-called platform solutions have competed with specialist proprietary providers to deliver systems to the sector, and the most well-known of those are Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Looking across the piece we see the strengths, and weaknesses, of platforms and proprietary offerings, and we work hard to help clients choose the right solution model for their needs, so we deep-dive most of them.

What we’ve found over recent years is that whilst we’ve learnt and understood a lot about how Salesforce.org approach the sector, and we consider it to be a strong proposition for non-profits, this isn’t something which the sector as a whole has embraced to the extent we might expect.

We decided to dig a little further to make sure we’re able to give our clients best advice. That’s the genesis of the idea for this Definitive Guide, which is our overview of the Salesforce.org proposition in 2020.

Non-Profit CRM Trends 2017

In 2016, we launched our first ever independent research report, CRM Projects: why do they succeed or fail?

The research was conducted across the entire non-profit sector, and we were encouraged and inspired by the level of response and the excellent feedback we received when the report was launched last November.

A lot can happen in 12 months, so we decided to repeat the research in 2017, which has enabled us to compare this year’s data with that of 2016.

This report provides important insights and key trends around CRM project success – and failure – in our sector.

So, is CRM project success increasing or stalling?

Are non-profit organisations better prepared and running better projects?

And who are the leading and emerging CRM solution providers?

You can find out by reading the report, which we’re launching at TechSmart NFP in 2017.

Guide to Dynamics for Charities

For any charity, any non-profit, and maybe any organisation in any sector who are reviewing their choice of CRM technology, there is almost an obligation to at least consider Microsoft Dynamics on account of it’s profile.

In the non-profit sector we’ve seen Dynamics providers delivering solutions to membership bodies for some years, and more recently gaining confidence that they do have viable offerings for charity fundraisers.

Dynamics has some strengths which are of benefit to charities, but there is also a lot of functionality they require which isn’t to be found in Dynamics.

In this supplement to the Definitive Guide to Microsoft Dynamics for Non-Profits we reflect on these strengths and gaps, and offer our insight into some of the considerations charities will need to take account of if they are interested in evaluating a Dynamics-based CRM technology solution.


Hart Square’s GDPR White Paper for Non-Profits

GDPR compliance is mandatory from 25th May 2018

Building on current Data Protection legislation, GDPR is designed to bring the regulations up to date and ensure they’re fit-for-purpose in a digital economy.

Its introduction will increase the requirements placed on organisations to properly manage the personal information they process, increase individuals’ rights to privacy, and increase the penalties which can be issued where non-compliance is found.

At Hart Square we work exclusively within the non-profit sector and we know the impact this could have on our clients and across the sector. It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s work to be done before May 25th 2018 but that work should have a host of positive outcomes.

Our White Paper is intended to summarise our approach to the challenge created by the introduction of GDPR and to the opportunity it presents charities, membership bodies and all non-profits.

Download it, have a read, then get in touch to tell us what you think!


Hart Square’s GDPR Self-Assessment Form

Hart Square have worked within the charity and not-for-profit sector for many years, and during that time have helped numerous organisations make better use of their technology to meet their aims and objectives.

GDPR’s (General Data Protection Regulations) impending introduction in May 2018 is one of the most significant changes to impact the sector over this timeframe, in that it demands that all organisations tighten and improve the way they capture, store and utilise their contacts’ information.

The questions and examples in this Self-Assessment are intended to help organisations to better understand how prepared they are for these changes and to identify areas of greatest risk.

Our hope is that through this self-assessment, you will be able to identify areas of improvement and then go about tackling these in a timely and efficient manner.

GDPR compliance is the sole responsibility of each organisation, regardless of outside support, systems, or recommendations provided by 3rd parties.

Exclusive Deep Dive report on Membership CRM projects – Why do they succeed or fail?

In July 2016 we launched a summary report from a major new research study – CRM Projects: why do they succeed or fail?

The report was the result of in-depth online research of professional membership and not-for-profit (NFP) organisations who are, or have been, involved in CRM technology projects. It focused on the impact of CRM projects on membership and stakeholder interaction and experience – and what CRM success or failure really means for those important relationships.

As a further piece of analysis we’ve produced our ‘Deep Dive’ insights into the research data, essentially drilling down into the quantitative and qualitative data to provide revealing and compelling findings for any institution involved in or planning a CRM implementation. They include top level analysis categories such as time, cost, overrun, over-spend, resourcing and planning, complemented by Hart Square’s own unique executive insights.

Key areas covered in the research include:

  • Business drivers for CRM selection
  • CRM systems selected / used
  • Approach to CRM
  • CRM Project Experiences
  • Resourcing
  • The cost of CRM
  • CRM Project Success or Failure?
  • Using External Resources

Exclusive Research Study on Membership CRM projects – Why do they succeed or fail?

For many NGOs, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the foundation of their strategy to engage, serve and retain supporters and stakeholders.

But while there’s plenty of CRM success out there, there’s also a graveyard of failed CRM projects. Why are these projects failing? And what does achieving success actually involve?

Research on NGOs

Earlier this year, Hart Square conducted a survey of individuals working in different roles – from IT to marketing – at 170 not-for-profit organisations who are, or have been, involved in CRM projects.

When asked about the relative success or failure of their projects, respondents were pretty much split evenly, with 50% defining their projects as “very successful” (10%) or “successful” (40%). However, the next highest percentage – just under 40% – said they had “limited success” and that the implementation had “failed to meet expectations”. Over 11% said their implementations were “unsuccessful”.

In some cases, while projects were cited as “successful”, the CRM system purchased was not as well-tailored as it could have been, so success was limited. A project can be ultimately successful, but involves many compromises. For many respondents, CRM was very much “work in progress” and they found it too early to claim a successful outcome. The process, it seems, is often iterative.

The Inertia factor

When asked about the length of time a CRM system had been in use, the survey revealed a certain level of inertia among organisations. A high percentage of respondents (over 37%) have had their CRM system in place for 5-10 years, and of the just over 15% who said they have had CRM for more than 10 years, most said that between 11 and 25 years had elapsed since their CRM implementation.

When asked about the time taken to implement a CRM project, just under 75% of organisations took between one and two years to implement. Over 21% took up to four years to complete a project, while just over 4% took between five and eight years.

There are many determining factors that can affect how long a CRM implementation takes, including:
•    whether a full business requirements audit has been undertaken
•    if suitable budgets are in place
•    if staff and other stakeholders are engaged
•    whether Board approval is forthcoming.

Having a grip on all aspects of a project is essential for your project’s success.

Cost and overspend

Project overspend seems to be one of the most common reasons why CRM projects grind to a halt, or fail altogether. For every project it is vital to budget for the unexpected – having contingency built-in can stop a project from running out of steam before it reaches the finish line.

When asked if they thought they had overspent, more than 72% of respondents said they had not. However, of the remainder who said they had overspent, just under 40% had done so by up to 25%. And just over one-quarter said they had stretched their budgets by up to 50%. Perhaps alarmingly, just over 16% of those who overspent estimated they had done so by more than 100 %.

Defining your projects 

Judging by the responses to the survey, there is often a thin line between project success and failure – something that many not-for-profit organisations have found out, often to their cost.

These projects are more sophisticated and demanding than expected, so you need to define yours properly, long before signing contracts with any supplier. As ever, successful projects are based on sound foundations that include an internal review focused on getting the best from your people and processes before tackling the technology decisions.

Make sure you ascertain your requirements, project planning and management, Board engagement, staff and stakeholder involvement, budgetary planning, and resourcing – all these play a key role in reducing risk and ensuring your project’s success.

Importance of resourcing

It is clear from the survey that simply adding a project to an internal team’s workload increases the risk of failure. Having the right resources dedicated to a project also appears to be important to the success of many CRM projects, with a majority of over 66% of respondents agreeing that they had employed external resources.

Having these additional external help organisations to define goals, establish and run a project helps reduce/avoid risk.

One of the big questions arising in the survey is whether external consultants are telling clients what they think they want to hear, or telling them “the truth”. That includes laying down clear expectations, setting the scene for how challenging projects can be and what is required to make them successful.

One conclusion that can be drawn from the research is that not all consultants are equal – some have more skills, experience and knowledge than others. And while not all organisations would choose to work with external experts, a majority of those we surveyed recognise the benefits of using them.

The ‘CRM Projects: why do they succeed or fail?’ report, as well as additional analysis, was launched to delegates at the prestigious TechSmart Summit on 30th November 2016 in London. Please download the summary by downloading the guide opposite or download the deep dive report here.

Developing a Persuasive CRM Business Case

CRM is a business strategy that incorporates business processes, people, culture and technology.

Every CRM initiative should therefore start with a strong business case that takes all of these elements into consideration. Reading this article will allow you to understand how to establish a persuasive CRM business case, achieve organisational buy and ensure project success.

Download our guide by filling in your details.

MS Dynamics CRM Definitive Guide

Implementing a CRM solution on the Microsoft Dynamics platform which meets the needs of a professional membership body, or association, is a complex project which requires careful consideration and planning.

In this updated version of our Definitive Guide, launched at our inaugural TechSmart NFP summit in November 2016, we highlight a range of features a membership body requires of its CRM which do not exist in the core Microsoft product.

Essential reading for any non-profit considering an investment in their CRM technology, the guide explores some of the strengths and weaknesses of MS Dynamics CRM as a match to a membership body’s requirements, and reviews the landscape of technology partners offering solutions in this arena.

With a supplement focusing on the same challenge for charity fundraisers due out later in 2017, the Guide should serve as a starting point in the decision-making process for any non-profit. Download by filling in your details.