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Why sorting your data is critical to the success of your new CRM implementation

Driven by the need to improve engagement with donors and supporters, services for members, and their own internal effectiveness, non-profits across the UK are routinely looking for new digital systems. Now facing the constraints of pandemic-hit funding and the recession which may well be on the horizon, many need new systems to enable them to meet the demands to “do more with less”.

Whilst it’s not always easy to know where to start, for many the imperative is to implement a modern CRM to bring their people and processes together, to connect up and be the home of their data, and to become the power behind their effective operations.

The third sector is all about relationships, so having a CRM solution at the heart of your digital engagement strategy is a must-have for any modern non-profit which wants to prosper. Moreover, it needs to function as the hub of your integrated digital solutions suite.

Having a CRM solution at the heart of your digital engagement strategy is simply a must-have for an effective modern non-profit

I’m certainly not suggesting having a well-designed and implemented CRM is the panacea for everything we face right now, and if you’re reading this and thinking “yes that’s where I’m at right now, we’re going to need to find and implement a new CRM” then I have many questions to ask, but can I start by asking you whether you’ve got full knowledge and governance over your data? If not, have you initiated a project to get your data in order?

That’s right, you haven’t even made the business case for a strategic investment in a change programme driven by new technology, let alone define the series (and sequence) of the projects which will form your digital transformation programme, and I’m asking whether you’ve made a start on your data migration!

Seriously, isn’t data a dull backwater we’ll just sort out when we need to?

Not at all is the answer there. Your data is fundamental to your ultimate success. Your future engagement strategy and related investment in new technology are based on being able to leverage your data, as information which informs your priorities, your plans, your actions.

So having good clean data you can access, mine and use is a key goal which means you need to know what you’ve got, understand its value, keep the information which will help you and ditch that which won’t.

Hark back to GDPR principles, catalogue your data, justify holding it, appoint guardians and owners, and get to work on it. Yes, I know you’re still writing your business case but time is of the essence here and we see way too many CRM implementation projects take far longer than they should – than they needed to – just because the data isn’t ready. Honestly, it’s a really expensive mistake to make.

Now start to plan the migration. To get an appropriate amount of data out of old, disparate, disconnected systems and into a new highly-functional, connected CRM you’ll need to consolidate and rationalise, you need to clean and de-dupe, and to document what you’re going to want in your new solution.

I’ll write more about the actual data migration strand of your project in the next weeks but will stop here for now, noting that none of the tasks and activities I’ve recommended you get started on is reliant on you knowing what technology you’re going to implement. So you don’t have to wait for the business case to be agreed upon, requirements gathering, or a tendering exercise to take place, you can make a start now.

Hey, even if you don’t end up initiating a change programme and a CRM replacement project for months or even years yet, this will be a valuable piece of work. You’ll have cleaner data and a better understanding of it so you can then put it to work!

 

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