Delivering a virtual conference in lockdown: APM’s Power of Projects Takeover

When lockdown started in March, Hilary Trahair, Events Manager, Association for Project Management realised very quickly that their summer conference would have to be cancelled.

Whilst a devastating blow, APM knew that they did not want to lose out on all the work that they had put in to the event, so they immediately started looking at virtual options. “We knew we had plenty of good content and the majority of speakers were still really keen to participate in a virtual space, which was very encouraging and gave us the impetus to go forward. The challenge then became how can we transform our successful conference format into a virtual one?” explained Hilary.

They soon realised that they could not just take the existing format and timetable and simply transfer it online.

For a start, there was far too much content for one day, as the event was really three conferences. Instead, they came up the idea of a virtual event that would take place every day from 12noon-2pm over a two week period, abandoning the term conference and renaming the event Power of Projects Takeover.

The extended timeframe meant they didn’t have to try squeeze all the content in one day and gave them the opportunity to create more engagement opportunities. For example, outside of the lunchtime content, they have launched APM’s brand-new community platform, APM Member Hub, which will allow delegates to continue the conversation, ask questions about the content that there was not time for, showcase APM products, such as qualifications and pick on areas of interest for future content, such as blogs. Having an extended timeframe also allows delegate more time to absorb the information being presented to them.

Delivering an excellent virtual delegate experience became the priority and the choice of the technology has been crucial to that process. APM had previously made the decision to use the event app InEvent during the physical conference to allow delegates to create their own agenda on the day, ask questions, take part in interactive polls, set up chats and network.

InEvent then developed their own web based virtual conference functionality and, as Hilary explains, APM chose their product. “InEvent allows delegates to choose the sessions they want to attend and the people they want to chat with. Networking is the one of the key reasons people attend a conference and we wanted to make our event as interactive as possible and more than a series of webinars. InEvent was the most flexible and best value product for us and they have been able to develop new features for us too. You do need to shop round though and do your research as all of these product have different pricing models and you need to very clear about your requirements.”

APM want to make the virtual experience as user friendly and interactive as possible alongside delivering valuable and insightful content.

Using the app, delegates will be able to:

  • View all the sessions in one place
  • Create their own agenda each day, giving them choice and control over the content they want to see
  • Register only once to access sessions for the whole event
  • See who is in the lobby to allow better networking opportunities and invite people to meetings
  • Use multi-devices to engage with the content
  • Download content and take part in polls and ask questions each day

Significantly, the majority of the content will still be live.

They have retained key speakers and delegates will be able to see the speaker talking as well as the content, explains Hilary: “Making the most of the live content is really important to us. We are encouraging speakers to stand up and move around as you would at a conference. Inevitably different people have different styles and levels of experience in delivering online events, so we have needed to coach some people, but everyone is open and enthusiastic to making the most of this event.”

A key difference from the physical conference is that there is no exhibition space to showcase sponsors. After some internal debate, APM has decided not to pursue sponsorship opportunities for this event recognising that it is not as clear cut what the sponsorship value is of a virtual event and sponsors are in a difficult place financially too. Instead they have used the opportunity to focus on more of their own content and use it as an opportunity to engage people in different ways to further their development. Hilary commented: “We have been lucky enough to make this event free which means we will be able to engage with even more people than we would normally, such as non-members and an international audience, an added benefit of a virtual event.”

APM is already thinking about how they can maximise the content of the virtual event afterwards, including offering members the benefit of being able to watch any sessions they may have missed after the event before releasing it into the public domain.

So far nearly 1,000 delegates have registered and APM welcomes anyone is who interested in projects to register for Power of Projects Takeover, which takes places from Monday 1 to Friday 12 June from 12:00pm. It is completely free of charge and open to anyone interested in projects, wherever they are in the world.

The social impact of working from home #stayhomesavelives

Stay home, save lives

In these exceptional times we’re seeing many an infographic and explainer relating to Covid-19, as we all become way too familiar with daily graphs from Public Health England, and the elusive R factor which has claimed a central role in our hankering for a relaxation of current restrictions.

Within this field, if you’re interested in such things, you’ll likely be familiar with many a mathematical model of how the small actions of individuals play their part in the pandemic.

Even then it can be difficult to comprehend the difference you can make as a person, never mind Hart Square as an organisation of 21 people and all the activity which occurs as a consequence of our day to day work. As a modestly sized consultancy, we’re a drop in the ocean, right? Well, maybe not..

The tech

Manchester based Reason Digital has created a Social Impact tool to understand one of the most significant Covid induced behaviour changes – the great swathes of the nation working from home. By feeding in a few basic details the tool can calculate the social, environmental and health impact of your organisation working from home.

This is no facebook style random number generator, however simple this looks on the surface. The mathematics and data behind social impact modeling are robust and often mind bogglingly clever.

So what does it tell us..

At time of writing (Friday April 24th) if we take Monday 16th March as the day we started working from home our 21 staff have been doing so for 28 days. Plugging that into the tool we start to see the impact.

Environmentally it’s nothing but good news – we’ve saved the equivalent of 681Kg of Carbon Dioxide which is the same as planting 31 trees.

We reap the benefits too – £4,580 saved in travel costs and 568 hours of commuting time.

Invent me a tool to find where all that spare time has gone and I’ll be seriously impressed.

Socially it’s more of a mixed bag – as we are in theory more productive at home we should have gained 98 hours of additional productivity and if the opportunities for additional exercise are taken (!), we could have done 245 hours.

But here’s the number to put to what we are all experiencing – the social isolation of not sharing a space with colleagues and clients has caused us to lose 362 hours of social interactions through our work.

The big one..

It’s the final set of numbers which gives the greatest pause for thought.

By working from home we have prevented 3,480 Covid-19 cases and potentially saved 49 lives.

And that’s as it is now – extend that to the not unrealistic date of 1st June and that becomes an eye watering 240,347 prevented cases and 3,365 lives saved..

There are undoubted challenges with this enforced way of working, back to back to back virtual meetings, eroding work/life hygiene, unannounced ‘special guests’ breaking into your working space and of course the absence of those small but important in person interactions that we maybe took for granted.

However, the next time that starts to grate, just plumb the latest numbers into the tool, take a moment, and move on..

 

We are in this together and together we are literally saving lives

 

The Social Impact Calculator is available at https://impactreporting.co.uk/covid19-wfh-benefits-calculator

 

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The drive for non-profits to really engage with AI

Despite the potentially off-putting hype and noise around Artificial Intelligence and “the rise of the machines” the reality is that AI and machine learning are technologies which have arrived and are on the verge of being mainstream.

Projects to evaluate, implement and deploy these technologies are now both appropriate and affordable, and whilst they must of course be treated with caution, they now represent arguably the biggest opportunity for non-profits who are striving to stay relevant and to radically enhance the services and benefits they offer to their supporters, members and beneficiaries alike.

What does this mean in practice?

The deployment of AI and ML technology can mean many things but the real benefit they bring to non-profits is in the ability they offer to mine and manipulate data at scale. Data is the lifeblood of non-profits; whether that’s to be able to understand more about donors and supporters and thereby to create deeper, more valuable relationships, or whether it’s used to analyse vast quantities of data in ever-decreasing timeframes, to identify and provide back critical information to beneficiaries or service users.

In the latest example of this, delivering a ground-breaking innovation, Muscular Dystrophy UK, Reason Digital, Parkinsons’ UK, the Stroke Association, and the MS Society have joined in an unprecedented partnership to harness the power of AI for good, creating the UK’s first AI health assistant. The Digital Health Assistant (DHA) is set to transform the way medical advice and information is delivered to millions of people in the UK.

The DHA will use machine learning to develop an understanding of the person being supported and continues to adapt to their needs over time based on interactions. This allows DHA to provide emailed content and support specific to an individual’s needs, making it vastly more effective than current alternatives.

This real-world implementation of AI for good, by a coalition of charities, spells out the opportunity for every non-profit to innovate and to harness the latest technologies in support of their cause. The technology is now science-fact and our challenge is to be brave enough to embrace it, to put it to use, and to derive a series of benefits for the whole of society.

 

This article was first published by Synergy in print format

Interview with Dan Pegler, Head of IM&T, Action for Hearing Loss

DAN PEGLER, HEAD OF IM&T AT ACTION FOR HEARING LOSS DISCUSSES HIS ROLE IN A NATIONAL CHARITY, HOW TECHNOLOGY IS HELPING THE ORGANSIATION ACHIEVE ITS GOALS AND WHY HE’S COMING TO CHASE LIVE, HART SQUARE’S ANNUAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON 4th JULY AT THE BREWERY, LONDON.

 

Tell us about your current role!

I have worked at Action for Hearing Loss, for four and a half years, as Head of IM&T. We are the largest charity for people with hearing loss in the UK. We have about 80 sites across the four countries, with around 1,000 staff and 2,000 volunteers.

My team of seven provide IT infrastructure support to all 80 sites – the usual services you would expect to enable the organisation to function day-to-day. Two of the team focus on software development of a number of bespoke in-house tools that we use, e.g. an outcomes tool for our registered care services to track progress of the people we support so we can measure our success in helping people to achieve their goals.

And before this?
I’ve worked in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sector, having started my career at a brewery (I was 18 and thought it was the best job ever!). I then worked at a law firm, before I moved into the not-for-profit sector. I’ve worked in the housing sector, education and then more recently the NHS. Action for Hearing Loss is my first charity though and it’s a hugely rewarding role.

What difference do you see between the private and public sectors?
It’s the staff in the NFP sector – they’re the real difference for me. Staff in the charity sector are truly motivated to do the best job they can because they identify with the cause their organisation champions, rather than to just generate profit for profit’s sake. And that’s a big motivation for me, working with like-minded people.

What’s the biggest challenges facing your organisation right now?
Like any charity, the challenge is managing a small team on a budget – particularly hard when you are delivering high quality IT services on a national scale.

As money becomes tight, fundraising for any charity is hard, so we are really focused on getting our message out and making sure people understand the difference that we make to people’s lives.

How will you approach this change?
IT is focusing on being a business enabler, embedding a cultural change so staff understand the importance of data. The focus is sharing data analytics back to all parts of the organisation, so they can understand how they are doing, and can measure and continuously improve services for the people we support. One of my passions is to help people understand how data can help them, what an asset it is.

In parallel, we are making our systems and services secure, accessible and intuitive for staff, so they can focus on the job in hand.

Finally, good procurement decisions are key. In my early days at Action for Hearing Loss, I saw that some of our communication costs were high, so quickly renegotiated and sourced new suppliers, saving £60k a year and improving the service for staff or our service users.

What’s the thing you’re most proud of in your current role?
Being able to deliver a big infrastructure upgrade project that transformed the way the organisation works. Previously, we had a solid, reliable system but it only really worked if you were in the office. Now we have systems that enable staff to work remotely and securely and get access to superb IT services at any time, from any location. In the process we made saving of 25% on our annual operational costs, which could be reinvested in support for service users. I’m really proud of that.

What’s the secret to your success?
The thing to do is get your recruitment right and make sure the people in your teams know the contribution they are making. You also have to trust them to be able to deliver. And it’s always great to hire people who know more than you do!

You’re coming to www.chase.live – what are you hoping to learn?
I went last year for the relaunch – where it stands out from other events is that it looks at delivering strategies from the organisation’s point of view, and sharing what went well, what went less well and how the sector can be better. There’s a real honesty from the presenters.

It also showcases the tools and services out there, but both from suppliers but also their customers – speakers from the sector who are running organisations like mine.

Which speaker are you most looking forward to hearing this year?
Alastair Campbell – he’s been right in at the heart of government and to hear his views right now will be a fantastic end to the day. It’s worth saying that Midge Ure was fantastic last year as well!

Who’s your fantasy speaker for our future events?
Bill Gates would be amazing! Also, speakers talking about the ethical of use of data would be good.

Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today!

If you are a leader or man

 

Interview with Mike Robinson, Amnesty International UK

Mike Robinson, Head of Technology at Amnesty International UK takes time out from his busy day job to explain his background, the challenges he faces in his current role and why he’s coming to chase live, Hart Square’s annual leadership conference on 4th July at The Brewery, London.

Tell us about your current role!
I am Head of Technology at Amnesty International UK, a post I took over just over a year ago. The UK branch of Amnesty International focuses on campaigning and fundraising in the UK; my role is to ensure we have all the key systems (all end user devices, servers, MS Office etc) in place that enable the organisation to function.

Have you always worked in non-profit organisations?
I started my career in the private sector, but the last decade has been in the non-profit sector. Previously, I was Head of Business Systems and Business Intelligence at Action for Children.

Amnesty International and Action for Children are very different organisations:

  • Action for Children is an NFP running services for its audience, focused on delivering local authority contracts
  • Amnesty is a much more member-led organisation, its fundraising is entirely there to support its campaigning role

It’s great to work in such different dynamics and see how the NFP sector is so varied.

If you’ve worked in the for-profit sector, what’s the biggest difference you’ve seen?
The biggest difference is the speed you get decisions made; it’s much slower in the NFP sector, which seems to be an acknowledged issue. That said, it’s clear that every penny counts, so organisations are rightfully careful with how they spend their money.

What’s the biggest challenges facing your organisation right now?
Amnesty International UK has an ageing infrastructure and outdated systems; the team has been fantastic at keeping these systems working….to be honest, they’ve been a victim of their own success.

But as an organisation, we have now agreed the time has come to upgrade the core infrastructure. We need to migrate people off windows 7 and upgrade key systems, especially our fundraising system.

How will you approach this change?
The key to success is to ensure that we bring the business with us, and not impose new technology. This is as much about culture change as it is about digital transformation. We need to get staff bought in before we begin our digital transformation project.

Our leadership team have bought into this and that’s key to drive this; that’s why my role was created and is much more focused on just technology, rather than technology plus a range of other services. That focus has enabled me to make real progress in my first year, to build partnerships with the rest of the organisation and better understand what they are trying to achieve.

Equally, our leadership team know that whilst they are experts in their fields, be it campaigning or fundraising, they aren’t technology experts. They can define the goals and we can help them see the ways in which technology can better help us achieve them.

What’s the thing you’re most proud of in your current role?
I am really proud to have the organisation’s first standalone technology strategy and new policies in place and signed off by leadership team and trustees.

We now have a business case in progress with our trustees to secure the investment we need to now make that strategy real and we are getting ready for a major change in the coming months.

What’s the secret to your success?
One of the ways I have made this happen is to be much more visible. We aren’t just a back-office service anymore; I have made sure I am very visible within the organisation, communicating our successes. And again, it’s about building relationships with key teams across the organisation.

And what are you hoping to learn from www.chase.live?
I came last year when Hart Square relaunched the event for its 25th anniversary. It was extremely useful.

I love the format – short punchy Ted-style talks and lightning talks meant I could hear a lot of content in a short time…I made pages of notes! And you attracted some of the best speakers I have ever seen at a free event.

Which speaker are you most looking forward to hearing this year?
Alastair Campbell. As a campaigning charity to hear what he has to say is a great opportunity. You’ve really moved up a gear this year.

Who’s your fantasy speaker for our future events?
Brian Cox – I saw him before and for 15 minutes I briefly understood the universe – I’d like to try and understand that again!

Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today!

If you work for a non-profit organisation and would like to attend chase live, please visit www.chase.live and book your free place today.

12 reasons CRM projects succeed – part 4

So now we have a well-planned project with clear objectives and a sound approach, we’ve worked out what we’re looking to deliver and how it will benefit all of our stakeholders, and we get to the phase where we start to look at a range of technologies and to get feted by suppliers whose solutions have bells & whistles beyond our expectations…

Not only has that requirements definition been a robust process but you’ve engaged widely and communicated clearly, so it’s important to maintain that positivity through a potentially quite fraught process. Having been through countless vendor and technology selection processes we know there are a variety of methods to use; the nature of the solution, the scale and scope of the requirements, your priorities and preferences should affect the nature of the process, but it is vital to maintain a robust and inclusive approach. What can still surprise us is how entrenched opinions can be when it comes to technology selections, and how we regularly tend to see a divergence of opinion among stakeholder groups as to the most suitable solutions to consider for their organisation.

There are several tips and techniques which help to manage these challenges, but to enhance your chances of a successful process some specific areas to avoid include:

10. Failing to undertake an objective selection process

Two of the key messages we promote within all of our projects are to be sure to learn from each activity and not to pre-judge anything. This applies and is valuable throughout every phase of a project and is especially relevant when it comes to the selection of the technology element of the solution.

The investment in understanding and reviewing business processes, then in deriving functional requirements, is intended, among other things, to ensure that you are as informed as possible about the core features you require from the technology and about the

priorities and nuances which will really make a difference to the long-term success of the implementation.

There are many ways to undermine all of the good work leading up to the selection process, the most common of which are allowing an elite group to select the technology solution, or only considering a select range of solutions based on previous experiences or perceptions.

At their best, these factors can impose artificial limits on the range of options you can evaluate and, at their worst, seriously undermine the efforts and advances made during the requirements gathering exercises.

Investing in a comprehensive project to review your business processes, derive functional requirements and agree priorities is all intended to enhance your understanding of what you’re looking to achieve and how you think technology can best support you. There are many purposes to this exercise and many benefits of going through it but with respect to the technology selection to follow, the key objective is to find the most appropriate solution(s) for you, based on a wide range of factors. Those are the factors to provide guidance through the selection process.

Equally you have a project team in place and you’ve been sure to engage and communicate widely through the preceding phases so it makes no sense to now effectively say that you’ve taken contributions from across the organisation so a small group will go off to identify the best technology solution to meet those objectives. One key to long term success is that the technology, once deployed, is widely adopted; it is the staff who will have to use the system, and if they’re not involved in the specification, definition, and then selection then they’re less likely to buy in to the decision.

So be open, continue to engage and to seek contribution and opinion across your organisation; you will probably get suggestions you didn’t consider or that you will quickly know aren’t going to meet your needs but you can respond to each suggestion by referring back to the requirements and the priorities garnered and agreed in the previous project phases, all of which reinforces those core objectives and success factors, as well as demonstrating the robustness of the process.

11. Failing to accommodate previous technology investments into your thinking

Whilst the message to incorporate existing technology infrastructure in your thinking may seem to be contradictory in recommending the introduction of a restriction to your technology options, the opposite is actually true. Our recommendation is to incorporate and acknowledge, not to be constrained by. The point here is that most organisations have already made investments in technologies which shouldn’t be disregarded and probably shouldn’t be replaced wholesale.

Taking an active approach to this means the existence and value of the infrastructure should be accommodated in your selection process. If the new system is on a completely different platform then that may make required integrations between line-of-business systems overly complex, expensive or risky, so this needs to be addressed openly and explicitly within the requirements documentation and the initial solution research.

Likewise if potential new systems are only accessible by a convoluted or complex method, distinct from and out of kilter with the existing technology then that may be a barrier to use you can’t afford. In reality we are entering an age where such restrictions are really ceasing

to exist, and where we can say with some certainty that these considerations are no longer likely to significantly reduce the options available to you, but this does still need to be ensured; most of us now expect our core systems to be available 24×7 anywhere from any device, but it is not the case that all technology solutions meet these expectations, or meet them as smoothly and reliably as we would want so there is differentiation to be had here between competing technologies.

12. Expecting the selection process to be an exact science

Whilst robustness, fairness and transparency, diligence and governance are vital components of the process to select your technology partner, the most successful outcomes are usually achieved by understanding that the selection is not a purely scientific and factual exercise. The cultural fit between your organisation and your technology partner is going to be crucial to the success not just of the initial implementation but also of your ongoing use, development and evolution of the solution.

To that end, we encourage our client to take every possible opportunity to engage with potential suppliers, and to be influenced by every engagement they have. Every communication, every response, every interaction should tell you something about the nature of the supplier you’re looking to enter into a significant relationship with, so be open to those influences and when it comes to making your selection, use every available piece of your knowledge to inform that decision.

An ideal selection process will see you whittle down the available options by a variety of means through a series of filtering processes based on the functional and factual criteria determined by the requirements gathering and tender preparation activities. In the final analysis then you should expect to have more than one potential supplier whose solution will meet your requirements, within your budget and timescales. At this stage you can start to incorporate soft factors into your decision making, factors which can’t form part of a scoresheet or a tickbox exercise, but which will have an important part to play in the success of your implementation.

Prepare for this time by engaging where possible with your long list of suppliers. They’re not all sharks trying to blindside you or pull a fast one. If a supplier asks to meet and you can accommodate it then do so, you’re not undermining the other bidders or being unfair. So long as every supplier would be treated the same way then the fact they’ve taken the initiative should be seen in a positive light; if some other suppliers don’t do the same then maybe that tells you something about your value to the supplier and the customer care you’re likely to receive.

This shouldn’t be a purely responsive or reactive engagement either. Assuming you send out an ITT or RFP to a long list of suppliers, against which they need to submit a written response, then invite them to meet with you in a relatively informal manner during that response period. If they have time to review and consider the RFP then meet with you to pose some questions and explore any specifics within the requirements, the intended outcome is that their response is better informed and you get the opportunity to engage with them and derive some notion of their approach and fit along the way.

You have a big decision and a substantial investment to make so you want to know that the partner you select is equally committed to you and to their solution. What’s to lose?

If you have any questions around the issues raised in this article, please feel free to get in touch with Hart Square.
+44 344 567 8790
info@hartsquare.co.uk
Or sign up to our newsletter and be the first to hear about subsequent articles.
Note: the text from this article comes from an eBook, of the same name, launched at chase25, 5 July 2018.
For ease of distribution, we have divided the eBook into 4 parts and each part will be published on this website. 

12 reasons CRM projects succeed – part 3

When considering how to minimise the risk of a CRM project failing a lot of copy is published arguing about the best approach in terms of project management methodology. Adherents to Prince II will argue that it is the only way to guarantee successful delivery, whilst Agile practitioners are equally certain that their “new” way of working significantly improves your chances, whilst disciples of Waterfall lay claim to taking the best of both worlds. 

Whilst the project methodology you do adopt will play a part, we think the critical aspect of that decision is that the methodology is appropriate for you, that it’s a cultural fit for you, not that it’s a methodology imposed upon you by your implementation partners. What’s more we don’t think you have to commit to one and only one methodology; different phases of your project may well be best supported by different approaches, or at least by adopting the guiding principles of different approaches. 

So when I came to thinking about aspects of “Approach” which affect the success or otherwise of a CRM implementation project I came at it from a different angle and wanted to share some considerations about your mindset rather than your methodology. Specifically we would caution that you reduce your chances of success if you:

Part 3: Approach

7. Approach CRM as a technology project 

Customer Relationship Management is a philosophy, a way of working and to succeed you have to introduce (or reinforce) CRM as a cornerstone of your company strategy. Whilst it’s true that there is a specific and critical element of your project which is about the successful configuration, testing and implementation of one or more pieces of technology, what you’re really looking to deliver is business change. The technology implementation is about enablement, effectiveness and efficiency; what you’re seeking to do is to enable your teams to efficiently develop and manage effective relationships with their customers. 

When we work with clients on “CRM projects”, whilst the scale and scope varies from client-to-client, we are always sure to understand the underlying organisational strategy, and to review business processes before we start to consider the functional requirements we would be looking for of any new technology. This focus on business objectives and business processes helps to frame the projects as change programmes, which in turn reinforces the need for a clear and coherent communications strand. 

Even when you’ve been through the strategic and requirements gathering phases of the project, have potentially reengineered some of your processes and are starting to home in on the technologies you want to deploy, it’s more than helpful to keep a strong connection back to what you’re trying to achieve and why, such that you focus on the technology as an enabler, not an end in itself. 

8. Are too willing to customise the software

Having completed a review of your business processes and been through a robust requirements gathering process, you should then be able to embark on a supplier selection process intending to identify a technology solution (which may not be a single piece of software) which can meet your needs without being customised for you.  

Much as we value our uniqueness, embrace our differences and love our nuances, the reality is that there are probably lots of organisations doing the same thing as we are. By seeking out those technology suppliers with a well-established presence and experience in your sector or niche, you should be confident of finding a range of potential solutions which will meet your needs, and help you drive your organisation forwards, when configured to work best for you. 

And that’s the key, solutions which are configured for you are therefore maintainable, sustainable and have a future within the roadmap which are the foundation of your supplier(s) future business strategy. If you start to insist on customised solutions then the likelihood is that you’ve missed a trick in your selection process, you’ve closed your mind to best practice or process improvements, or you’re stubbornly refusing to accept that you are not unique! 

If you consider that the technology suppliers you’re engaging with are experienced in delivering solutions to like-minded organisations then it makes sense to allow them to demonstrate how their technology delivers what you need when you play to its strengths. You’ll then get a better experience, a more robust and supportable solution, and a more future-proofed outcome than if you opt for custom developments and bespoked systems.

9. Don’t address the possibility of poor data quality

Whilst we’d all love to believe that new technology solutions are the panacea to the data integrity issues we experience with our old systems, the fact is that the old rubbish in / rubbish out cliché is a reality and the project is our opportunity to address both the causes and the effects of the data quality issues which have undermined our old systems. 

A new piece of software is not suddenly going to make sense of that inconsistent business information, spot and merge all of those duplicate contact records, complete all those half-entered records, or finish off those tasks which were reliant on manual procedures being followed.  

What’s worse news is that the plan you have to migrate everything into the new system because it will be much easier to analyse, identify and clean the quality failings using the new solution is unlikely to succeed! All best intentions of course but once all of your data is in the new system there will be a raft of new activities which will prevent you from getting round to the data cleansing exercise.  

It’s hard to over-stress the importance of data quality and, significantly, the impact that poor, incomplete and missing information can have on the effectiveness of any system. Even the most basic core objective for a CRM system to be the master record or address book for your organisation will be swiftly scuppered if the early days post-implementation are undermined by the discovery that some key contacts details are still out-of-date, that some duplicates have surfaced and that “the numbers still don’t match”. 

Invest in a data integrity exercise prior to mapping and migrating your information into the new solution. On top of that, develop, share and agree a range of specific statistical measures that will be used to reconcile and sign off the migration. If there are any financials being migrated then we’re all very robust in our reconciliation, probably because it’s a central dark art within Accounts, but that principle of dedicating time and effort to match and reconcile numbers is what creates reassurance and delivers confidence.

If you have any questions around the issues raised in this article, please feel free to get in touch with Hart Square.
+44 344 567 8790
info@hartsquare.co.uk
Or sign up to our newsletter and be the first to hear about subsequent articles.
Note: the text from this article comes from an eBook, of the same name, launched at chase25, 5 July 2018.
For ease of distribution, we have divided the eBook into 4 parts and each part will be published on this website. 

chase25 – The Verdict! Guest Post by Michael Hoare

Michael Webb established the Charities and Associations Exhibition, known thereafter as CHASE in 1991, and kept it going for an astonishing 24 years! Earlier this year Glenda Parker, of Hart Square, gathered a ‘coalition of the willing’ in London to re-launch it for its 25th anniversary. The result – from a standing start in January – was available for all to see a couple of weeks ago. But was it worth all the effort?

Well, if you work for a membership organisation, you don’t need me to tell you that change has been rapid in recent years. Associations, institutes, and charities have developed joined-up systems and active member engagement processes. Their outward appearance has become slicker, their business acumen honed. Much of this is down to the digital revolution.

They are also innovative, adaptable, and increasingly fleet of foot. Because, they’ve had to be. They’re correspondingly independent, task focussed, and frequently small to medium enterprises. They are moreover fundamentally about people. And the best way to engage with people is to bring them together under one roof. Where you can entertain them, enlighten them, challenge and energise them!

And so, while it might have been time to light the 25th candle on its birthday cake, it was also time to take a fresh approach to chase25, bringing it up to date with a new venue, structure, exhibitors, and themes. With a show reflective of change, but without abandoning its heritage.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be! But if there was any latent yearning after the past, it was soon dispelled by the new surroundings, and the show’s fresh new format.

Yes, digital loomed large amongst the day’s themes. But then so did innovation, culture, and leadership. All served up as an appetising smorgasbord providing satisfying treats in portions ranging from amuse bouche to belly busting.

Julie Dodd’s reflections on the moral issues exposed by new technology, and its power to do good, during her Michael Webb lecture, was timely. Kevin Cahill, former CEO of Comic Relief, charting the transition from passion driven start-up to charity institution, opportune. And Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 co-founder Midge Ure’s juxtaposition of the challenges of promoting a cause in both the analogue and digital universes spanned by his career, revelatory!

But, it was Midge Ure who, for me, came up with the unspoken theme of the day when he attributed Band Aid’s success to “finding like-minded people”. As he put it, “we put all our little soap boxes together to form a world stage”.

Surely – the realisation dawned on me – that is at the very core of what charities and associations do every day; gather like minds in a common cause. But this time chase25 showed us how to do it even better! I, for one, can hardly wait for next year!

Click here to view the best photos, stats and social media comments from chase25 and get a flavour of the fantastic networking, inspirational talks, practical educational sessions, amazing food, surprises, sun and fun!

12 reasons CRM projects succeed – part 2

Part 2: OBJECTIVES.

How do you know you’ve succeeded, if you don’t know what success looks like?

Maybe this is to help define failure, hopefully it’s to help recognise success, but either way it is vital to be clear about why you’re investing in this project, what you intend to achieve by implementing the new technology, and how “things will be different” afterwards. When you embark on the project you are going to need to engage disparate groups of people for a variety of reasons, so for each group you should identify why it’s good for them that the organisation is investing time and money in the project.
You will be asking a lot from the staff, the project team, the suppliers, your Trustees, members, donors, stakeholders, customers, committees, and you need to be able to describe the reasons you’re doing this in a way that everyone can relate to and buy in to. Key to the ability of everyone to understand the project, its purpose, how they can contribute and how they’ll benefit will be your commitment to:
4. Make a business case
You may or may not NEED to present a formal business case to the Board or the Trustees but it is still a valuable exercise to go through. The process of putting together a solid business case is invaluable to help develop a clear, organisation-wide view of why this investment is so important and why it is in everyone’s best interests.
Making a business case is about clearly aligning your project to the overall strategies and objectives that your organisation has in place. Part of doing this will require you to summarise the challenges you face and how you have determined that the project you’re initiating will help to address them.
A business case will also require you to consider what resources will be required from across the organisation, a CRM implementation project can require a sizeable financial investment but it places even more demands on your staff’s time and focus. By describing the level of input and impact the project requires, you’ll make yourself identify, highlight and emphasise the benefits and positive outcomes of the project.
5. Draw up and share clear, defined objectives
It can take some time to get together everything which you may need to do to enable you to turn an idea into a reality, when the idea is that some new technology may help you to address a pain point, and the reality is a notable technology project. It’s vital not to lose sight of the pain points and challenges which formed part of the initial motivation to seek improvements through new technology solutions, because addressing them is the objective of the project.
The project team is likely to be tasked with collating, drawing up and maybe agreeing the core objectives of the project but it’s important to encourage everyone to contribute their opinions on how the solution could help them, and to communicate clearly across the organisation what the final agreed objectives are. You should then make a point of referring back to them regularly, in project updates and certainly when an issue surfaces which puts the project at some risk.
A critical element of drawing up objectives for the project is discussing and agreeing the definition of success. You need to be able to recognise success, which means you have to define it in the first place. You have to set your goals and commit to them being the measure by which your project will be judged. They have to be shared and, when achieved, they have to be celebrated!
6. Focus on what you want out of the system
There’s lots of technology available now which is good at capturing and storing data, but increasingly the value and benefits come equally from what the system can do for itself (workflow automation) and what the system can tell you (business intelligence). That’s not to say that you don’t need to consider how you can capture and find information, but it’s to note that our ability to report and analyse is increasingly important and can sometimes be overlooked or taken for granted.
We’ve run workshops before where we’ve recommended a session for the team to focus on what they want out of the system, and we’ve encountered some negativity around that idea. On exploring this deeper, the negative reactions are based on an interpretation that focusing on reporting and analysis reflects a pre-conception that technology projects are all about providing better reporting to “management” rather than trying to improve the lot of administrative teams and knowledge workers.
This isn’t true at all, one of the reasons for considering outputs of the system is that if the system can provide better information, more easily, to staff then their jobs become easier and they’ll invest time in capturing data into the system consistently and reliably. In turn this can build a cycle whereby the system starts to be seen as “the place to find what you need”, which makes it the place that staff go to, which makes it the place that staff update with their knowledge, which makes it the valuable knowledge base you want it to be.
Operational activity, captured consistently, provides insight into what the organisation and its stakeholders and audiences, are doing, which feeds organisational knowledge, which in turn enables managers to make better decisions – which I hope is one of the objectives of your project.

 

If you have any questions around the issues raised in this article, please feel free to get in touch with Hart Square.
+44 344 567 8790
info@hartsquare.co.uk
Or sign up to our newsletter and be the first to hear about subsequent articles.
Note: the text from this article comes from an eBook, of the same name, launched at chase25, 5 July 2018.
For ease of distribution, we have divided the eBook into 4 parts and each part will be published on this website. 

12 reasons CRM projects succeed – part 1

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 agree on the actual numbers, but the accepted narrative is certainly that a large number of projects undertaken by businesses of all shapes and sizes fail. What’s more, if the project involves the implementation of a new piece of technology then the likelihood of it failing appears to increase disproportionately.

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! When these projects succeed, that means the organisations involved set themselves up to achieve their objectives and deliver the changes needed.

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 a series of four articles which discuss some of the foundations of successful projects.

There are also various related discussions we could have about what is a CRM project (does that mean a software implementation, a “new database”?) and what success looks like. Putting that aside for today, here we share our current musings on why projects to introduce new CRM technologies more often than not do not solve the challenges they were intended to address and how this can be avoided with the correct Planning, Objectives, Approach and Selection. 

Part 1: Planning

There is no chance of success unless you PLAN!
For the non-profit organisations we work with, a project to introduce new CRM technologies will be a major investment in time and money and should affect every member of staff; what’s critical therefore is to make sure that everyone knows what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how they can participate. For those in charge of the project, the key is to make sure that it has a beneficial effect.This may not be the case if you:
1. Underestimate the impact an implementation project has on the organisation

It has been known for CRM technology implementation projects to be initiated under the radar or in the basement, where the majority of the organisation first hears about it when the announcement is made that “we’re going live with some software program next month”. This is not good!
CRM itself, the strategy rather than the technology, is all about positive engagement and about delivering value. So start with a bit of internal CRM and get your staff engaged with the change that’s coming from the earliest possible moment. Enthuse them about the possibilities the project and investment offers and encourage them to contribute to defining the solution of choice.
Whatever the strategic objectives are which lie behind the project, you want it to have a major impact on your organisation, and you want everyone to know about it, everyone to be affected by it, everyone to invest in it. Do that and you give everyone the opportunity to contribute to its success and to benefit from it.

2. Don’t acknowledge or appreciate user adoption challenges

Just because you and the project team think the new system is going to be great, is intuitive and will address the challenges you identified when making your original business case for the project, that doesn’t mean everyone else in the organisation will understand that, will get it, and will find the system as logical to use as you do.
On-going success will be measured by the long-term positive impact of a major investment like this, and that success will be delivered by the people who are going to be using the new technology every day. That may mean your internal administrators who can better manage their members or their events, it may be the marketers who can better communicate with more relevant audiences and more accurately measure the interest in their messaging, or it may be the members to whom you’re providing better digital services. It will probably be all three of them, and more.
What we do know is that when it comes to judge whether the project has been a success one key factor is going to be whether the technology has been deployed effectively such that the people who need to use it – to deliver the potential benefits you identified – are actually doing so. Don’t take user adoption for granted, you need to sell the benefits and advantages of the new solution to everyone.
3. Try to go live with everything at once
As I mentioned in my first point, a successful technology implementation will have an impact on everyone, but that doesn’t mean that everyone and everything has to be affected at the same time. Adopting a strategically phased approach to the implementation will increase the likelihood of success by supporting an organisational focus on different functions at different times, and by ensuring that each phase is manageable. It’s not always easy to see how a new system can be phased, particularly if it’s replacing an existing solution, but if you’re brave and creative you will be able to uncover and agree approaches where, for example, your core contact and Membership administration can be migrated to the new solution before your Events function or Exams management.
Equally your back office CRM database might only be part of the technology refresh you’re engaged in, as it is only one of the tools you’ll be using to support your CRM strategy. In our digital age so much CRM is delivered through our websites and associated technologies that they are likely to be either refreshed or replaced too.
So take a well thought out and planned, phased approach to your projects. You can play safe with the first Phase, build in some early wins and celebrate them. Your teams will then share the story of their success with colleagues, raising the profile of, and engagement with, the project; your project team will gain confidence, and the whole experience can give you great insight into what a CRM can do. Both in terms of functionality and project delivery, you’ll be well placed to learn from each Phase and be able to adapt for subsequent phases.
If you have any questions around the issues raised in this article, please feel free to get in touch with Hart Square.
+44 344 567 8790
info@hartsquare.co.uk
Or sign up to our newsletter and be the first to hear about subsequent articles.
Note: the text from this article comes from an eBook, of the same name, launched at chase25, 5 July 2018.
For ease of distribution, we have divided the eBook into 4 parts and each part will be published on this website.