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Membership Management and Technology – Article 2

It’s about culture

In the second of our four-part series of articles on membership management, we look at why culture is so important.

One really important aspect to consider when looking at membership management is your organisational culture. The technology you choose must be a ‘good fit’ culturally for your organisation, otherwise you will face a major challenge in terms of ensuring it is embedded and ‘bought into’ by your staff.

In fact, the culture of the organisation can often be the very foundation of everything you do from a technology perspective.

Cultural fit – questions to ask

Key questions to ask when assessing your organisation’s cultural fit for technology change include:

  • Are you risk averse or not? It’s not easy ‘going out on a limb’ and selecting and implementing new technology – it takes guts, and not all organisations are prepared to tackle the risks involved.
  • What resources and skillsets do you have? You staff are recruited for their specific skills and experience – that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the right skillsets to implement new technology, or maximise its use.
  • How do your staff adapt to change? There is always a certain amount of inertia in any organisation. Change isn’t easy for everyone – and adapting to it can be a major hurdle to overcome for some.
  • Do you outsource (i.e. work with external consultancies, external subject matter experts) or do you do everything in-house? It is unlikely that you will have all the knowledge, skills and experience in-house, so bringing in external experts can provide real benefits – and enable internal staff to concentrate on what they do best.
  • What governance is in place? You need to ensure that both internal and external standards and processes are adhered to.
  • What is your Board like – i.e. are they hands-on and involved, how do they feel about technology and technology projects? It’s a truism that most senior management are technology averse – they need to see the business processes and advantages of technology, rather than the ‘bits and bytes’.
  • Do you have an IT department? If so, what are their skillsets, size, and do they have CRM-specific and implementation skills? Technology is so wide ranging and moves so fast that many internal IT staff can struggle to keep up and acquire and maintain the skills required for new technology projects.
  • Are you realistic about budgets, timeframes and staff workloads? It’s easy for technology projects to bust timeframes and budgets, so you need to build in contingency – and some.

Remember that the culture of your organisation may need to change towards a more collaborative approach to working. CRM will facilitate departments that previously worked in ‘silos’ – centralisation may be key, and indeed should be encouraged.

This isn’t easily done of course – data/information ‘ownership’ needs to be addressed, there are standards and protocols to follow and processes need to be consistent.

Top tips

  • Technology must be a good fit culturally
  • Check if you have the right skills and resources in-house
  • Seek to deliver on your organisation’s cultural values
  • Consider bringing in external experts to advise