November 10, 2014

What You Should Do Before an Enterprise-Wide CRM Implementation

Implementing a constituent relationship management (CRM) application can be a difficult project for organizations with multiple large, complex departments. Rolling out a solution that caters to your development, marketing, program, and HR departments could be challenging due to the different strategies, processes, and products.

A CRM encompasses the people, processes, and applications that enable organizations to manage their constituent relationships. A successful implementation needs a holistic approach that aligns staff training and changes in business processes with constituent needs through thoughtful planning. It also entails implementing applications that will automate and consolidate constituent information. If a CRM isn’t helping you to become more effective, increasing your constituent retention or improving staff satisfaction – don’t implement it.

A well thought-out implementation plan for an enterprise-wide CRM can impact organizations with the following:

  1. Ability to better understand your constituents
  2. Reduction of the total cost of ownership
  3. Better positioning for future shifts in strategy or changes in regulations or constituents needs
  4. Increasing the likelihood of a successful strategy implementation
  5. Better governance of IT services

Why Organizations Fail to Maximize the Value of CRM Implementations

Technology itself will not solve all your organization’s pain points. A well thought-out implementation of a strategic solution could, however, deliver a high business value in a complex environment. When a CRM implementation lacks the clarity and depth, it could end up as a shelf-ware that is neither updated nor adopted by end users. Technology is just a tool to implement your strategy; it is not a silver bullet.

Another pitfall is if a CRM implementation approach lacks the vision of dealing with the overlap between different departments. Recently, I have been hearing from many organizations (clients and implementers) who believe that satisfying donor management/development needs alone is considered an enterprise implementation. In the long run, such implementations are doomed to fail if there is no focus or future roadmap to manage additional aspects of the organization’s mission.

Another very common problem is the lack of budget alignment between the cost of the technology and the cost of the changes needed to support the business’ processes. This is normally a result of a misaligned operational enforcement of the enterprise vision.

Doing it Right

Your organization will drive a positive return on investment from the enterprise-wide implementation through a planned CRM approach that is constantly evaluated. An assessment of the organization’s CRM strategy, staffing, processes, and technology will help you identify the relevant approach, resources, and tools to be put in place to champion a successful implementation. The value is achieving consistent processes, cross-departmental coordination, and even driving organizational innovation.

Like what you're reading?
Sign up to receive the latest articles and updates on nonprofit tech from NTEN and its community of experts.


Tal Frankfurt
Tal Frankfurt (@TalFrankfurt) is Founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, a certified B Corporation and an Inc.500 company, that works with organizations to create and implement strategic Salesforce solutions. While working as a spokesperson and director of resource development for a nonprofit organization, Tal was looking for tools to better manage his constituents (donors, volunteers, the media etc.). He heard about The Salesforce Foundation and this started a snowball effect. The rest, as they say, is history. He founded and led a Salesforce Nonprofit User Group and was exposed to the growing need for many nonprofits to integrate technology tools such as Salesforce to achieve their mission. Subsequently, Tal founded Cloud for Good, a consulting firm that works primarily with nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. ​​Tal ​was chosen in 2010 to be one of the first Salesforce MVP Program members and has maintained that status to date.
Interest Categories: Infrastructure, Operations, System Integration
Tags: CRM