When embarking on a CRM implementation project it is important to know what success will look like. So wanted to understand how our network perceived CRM project success.

We asked several non-profit organisations that had completed, were in the process of, or had just completed a CRM implementation to tell us what they considered to be the most important measures of success 1 year after go-live. These responses were then sorted into broad themes to provide us with 3 key measures of CRM success.  

Key measures of CRM success

Measure 1: Staff adoption 

Overwhelmingly, staff adoption and understanding of the system was considered the priority. This highlights the considered importance, for our respondents, of the change process and the embedding of the system throughout the organisation. This is often a point of failure with such projects, so it is of note that this was judged so highly. As the change piece is something that Hart Square are at pains to stress due to our assessment that this is often under-appreciated, the survey results we see here may in fact be a reflection of Hart Square’s influence and/or the types of people we attract: professionals focused on embedding deep, organisation-wide, change.  

Success here is strongly influenced by thinking about this early and thinking about how staff can be brought into the change, rather than enduring it. A strong communication plan and inclusion of feedback on the new system from varied sources within the organisation are key. Do your staff understand the need for change? Do they understand that the additional work for this change is necessary? Do they feel they have had input into this? Training and familiarisation with the system on the run up to go-live is key. Ask tech partners about what training they will provide and consider what additional resources may be needed beyond this, internal or outsourced, to get staff comfortable. 

Measure 2: Workflow improvements

Workflow improvements, efficiencies and enhanced integrations came in spot number 2. This is a major motivation for organisations looking for an enhanced CRM so it would follow that this is a major marker of success too. Implemented CRM’s which are properly tailored and sensitive to business processes can massively reduce manual workarounds and imbed best practice within the system. Key to the success of this metric is understanding that a CRM cannot do this alone. Organisations that truly understand their process, are willing to critique them deeply and then work with the system to codify these in the CRM, are best placed to capitalise on the system to imbed best practise and reap efficiencies. 

Measure 3: Data and reporting 

Data and reporting took the third spot.  Data is a very common struggle on a project and the complexity of data held by an organisation is often underestimated. It’s key for organisations embarking on a CRM project to remember that you, not the supplier, will be responsible for cleaning your data. Knowing what data you have, where, and of what quality even before an implementation begins can be a tremendous boon. Once your data is in shape then you are in a position to access more of its true value. Modern CRMs have a variety of tools and increasingly sophisticated visualisation features for your data to not only make best use of data for insights but also represent them to key stakeholders in an engaging way. 

In summary

There is no definitive list of what the key goals for you organisation should be and all of the above generally considered essential criteria of success for all organisations embarking on a CRM project. More important is that these goals, and the hard work required to reach them successfully, are understood throughout your organisation early into the process. None of these criteria are delivered by a CRM system alone, or by a technical partner. They all require deep insight and work from the organisation itself. Ultimately, your team are the expert on your organisation, whether its people, process or data. Full and active participation from your team early on and throughout is fundamental to success. 

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