When undertaking a digital transformation project, we often get asked should I get a new CRM, website or do both together?  

There are of course several factors that organisations will need to take into consideration. I will explore these throughout this article as well as discuss how the projects can fit together.  

Website and CRM Projects 

Typically, at the start of our engagement with our non-profit organisations clients who are considering a new CRM, discussions will also arise around whether they should include a new website within the scope of work. 

In brief, websites or Content Management Systems (CMS) are the public facing content where members, donors, and users will visit and interact with the organisation every day. Therefore, any project that includes a new website will inevitably be more visible to the end user and have a far bigger impact on them. A website project will also be more disruptive to the core product of the organisation especially if there is shop functionality or e-commerce involved. 

However, a change of CRM will have more impact in terms of an organisation’s ability to gather supporter data which in turn, will impact their engagement with their audiences. A change in CRM will however potentially have little visible impact on the client’s stakeholder(s) and although there will be disruption to internal stakeholders, it will not be as obvious.  

Benefits of a website and CRM project at the same time

If you can carry out a CRM and website project together, it can allow for several benefits. When both projects are carried out together it provides an opportunity for the implementation of a digital strategy that encompasses both platforms.  

In addition, it ensures that critical phases of the project can be coordinated such as integration testing between the two systems. This approach can also enable you to choose, if appropriate, one supplier which allows for a more joined up plan and avoids multiple stakeholders. 

Drawbacks of a website and CRM project at the same time

However, the above approach does require a significant project budget and a large commitment of time across the organisation. If choosing to do either CRM or CMS in phases or just one of them, then there are factors to be aware of to allow for it to be delivered successfully.  

If there is a significant gap between phases, this could require multiple integrations to be built between platforms or large time-consuming manual workarounds for staff which need to be considered. As well as this, if you have different technology suppliers managing CRM and the website implementations, it will require closer management to ensure approaches and project plans are aligned.  

So, can I do both projects at the same time?

Overall, there isn’t a one size approach that is best. It will come down to organisational priority, budget, and resources. If all of these align, then the best approach would be to do both your website and CRM as part of one digital transformation project that will work in sync and allow the organisation to maximise the benefit of two new systems.  

For many organisations this might not always be possible, and a phased approach may be more suitable for financial reasons as well as resourcing constraints. If this the way that an organisation decides to pursue, then it’s imperative to be mindful of the challenges that this will present and to ensure that staff are prepared for both projects.