So, of late have you been taking sideways, slightly furtive glances at your CRM? Maybe thinking that perhaps it isn’t quite up to the job any longer? Maybe this same software that has served you so well for so many years, the kit that was once so shiny and new and enabled you to change the way you work, just doesn’t provide your organisation with the solution it needs nowadays?

But hang on, there are lots of other more important things to do right now aren’t there? More pressing things? Yes and it does do a pretty good job on a day to day basis doesn’t it? I mean it handles your donations, processes your direct debits, claims your gift aid, manages your members, your events, records your communications with your contacts. So yes, all is fine really isn’t it? We can carry on for now can’t we? What more does a CRM need to do after all?

Your peers and competitors are moving on to modern tools with enhanced features

The thing is, your colleagues and contacts at other organisations are also making similar noises, thinking that maybe their CRM needs looking at too. Plus you’ve started to read about what some of these newer software solutions can do. Funnily enough, these are the very things that your users and department heads have started to say that they really need to be able to have access to if they are to achieve theirs, and the organisations, objectives that they have been tasked with helping to deliver.

So while yes, there may appear to be more pressing issues in the short term, things are moving inexorably forward and pretty quickly too!

Needs are changing and organisations need to adapt.

The way people communicate, consume information, ask for assistance – and offer theirs – has changed and will continue to do so. In order to support any response to this, the technology in use within any organisation needs to be appropriate and, critically, it should also be an enabler of change rather than a blocker to progress.

I would argue that even if your CRM appears to be doing what it needs to do on a daily basis, you should be looking beyond this, talking in detail with your users and senior staff, understanding where they have frustrations around being able to carry out their daily functions and also deliver upon agreed strategies, both now and in the future.

If you have an ageing CRM, I can almost guarantee that even if you don’t already have a wish list compiled by your key users, you will have one to be proud of very soon after speaking in detail to them!

I suggest you begin by speaking to the right people within your organisation. Both the people that use the software and the people that depend on the people that use the software! That’s a great place to start and will give you a clearer picture of what’s what and if you need to think about a more detailed investigation.

How do you determine if you need to start looking elsewhere?

As I suggest above, first of all you need to start asking questions. Lots of them. Speak to your colleagues, to heads of departments, to end users.
You also need to understand the longer term strategy of your organisation and how this is likely to impact on your CRM and broader IT systems. What will be asked of your CRM solution over say the next 5 years? Will your current solution be able to support those needs and does it even have the legs to still be around in 5 years time?!

Understand your users’ frustrations, what they would like to do that they currently can’t. Importantly dig into why they want to do the things they say they do, that can become quite an interesting discussion!

What we’re talking about is assessing the need or otherwise for a replacement CRM system, so it’s important that you don’t assume that just because your users can’t currently use the system to support their needs, that your existing CRM can’t be re-configured or integrated with or supported by another solution that will solve the problems and frustrations that they are experiencing.

So get cracking on that list of questions and planning a first round of meetings; in part two we’ll look into some of the key considerations you need to take with you when you embark on your assessment of the next steps for your organisation.

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