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What Should I Do Before Committing to a New CRM?

Making the leap to a new CRM can be a big decision. No matter which CRM you choose, there are some things every organization should do before making the transition:

1. Determine your organization’s security policy. Do you deal with sensitive data? Do you need to limit employees’ access to specific pieces of data, or during specific days and times? Do you work internationally? Who will manage your data quality and security?

2. Document all of your processes. What does your sales cycle look like? What is your customer’s journey? What steps do your program participants take to get to their outcomes? How do you cultivate donors? Resolve service issues? Prioritize and manage product enhancements? Do you have any forms on your website? What information do you capture and how do you follow up on those submissions? The more you document now, the more prepared you will be to choose the right solution and implement it faster and more effectively.

3. Collect your data. Is your data all in one place? Chances are that it’s spread across a few different databases and spreadsheets. Make sure you know where your data is stored and start collecting it. Fill in any missing information and clean up your records now. As a former colleague used to say “Garbage data in = garbage data out.” Bad data will affect everything from reporting to automation. Clean it now and save yourself a headache later.

4. Prioritize your wish list. What processes are essential to the success of your business? What data is stored in an unusable or vulnerable place? Start thinking about your priorities so that you are not overwhelmed trying to do everything all at once (and so you don’t waste money on features that aren’t used).

5. Get your users excited. Think about how this change will benefit everyone at your organization. If you have a lot of users, consider setting up a “pilot group” that will test the system and give you feedback before you roll it out to the rest of your users. Figure out who your champions are and reward them for their enthusiasm.

As you can see, a lot of this comes down to documentation. It might not be fun or sexy, but it’s work that’s worth the effort. I’ve learned from many implementations and projects that the more you document, the better. Don’t be afraid to put some serious time into clarifying and capturing everything. You’ll be glad you did!

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