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The single biggest threat to a successful CRM project

Why changing the way you think about your CRM project will help it succeed and lead to a happier, less stressful life.

What’s the single, biggest threat to a successful CRM implementation? Being unrealistic. Unrealistic about what’s possible for the time and budget that you have allowed. About the ability of the product you have selected to actually do what you need without a lot of expense. Even unrealistic promises from the supplier. So why would anyone want to be unrealistic?

At the point of making the decision to implement a new CRM everything is seemingly possible. Want 100% functional fit to your needs? Of course - it’s possible. Integration with everything else we use? Yes please! Clean data? Why not. Everyone in the organisation using it properly….? OK, maybe not everything.

But if you just go ahead hoping that somehow by signing on the dotted line the dream will turn into reality you are in for a shock. An expensive, stressful and time-consuming shock at that.

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious about the positive impact that a new CRM can have on your organisation, your supporters and your service users - it can be transformative. But to achieve it you need to be realistic about what’s possible now, and plotting a smart way forward to realise that ambition at a pace that you and your supplier can handle. Otherwise you are in for a long, stressful and expensive project. That might be counter-intuitive when you just want to dive into the detail and get it all done, but believe me - it works and will lead to a happier, less stressful life! These tips will help you adopt the right mindset for success:

Think of the “Go Live” moment as the beginning, not the end. That means you need to really concentrate on what’s absolutely essential for switching over to your new CRM. Be brutal about what’s in and what’s out or can be deferred to a future phase. It may be a cliché but “perfect is the enemy of good” holds true here. So think about the setup, data migration and training as preparation for reaching the start line. That means your initial Go Live has a fighting chance of happening on time and on budget. This takes so much pressure off, and ensures that you get some quick wins in the bank so you can then move onto the more interesting stuff in the next phases.

Reduce risk by buying a CRM that already does what you need to cross the start line. That might sound obvious, but why buy a box of Lego bricks and pay a builder to get you over the line when you can get a ready-made house (that you can still customise) for less money and in no time? The builder will tell you that anything is possible (it is of course, but he/she has to build it - time and money - and then no-one else will know how it works - more time and money in the future. Start with a package that already does what you need as standard, is supported, but also has the capacity for integrations and add-ons for those future phases.

Be clear about what your CRM is for. With specialist tools for pretty much everything, remember that your CRM doesn’t need to do everything. It’s the “single version of the truth”, the 360-degree view of each and every stakeholder. It needs to know everything about your supporters, but it doesn’t need to do it all. It needs to know about your supporters’ event attendances but it doesn’t need to manage them - there’s an app for that. It needs to know about the e-commerce purchases that your supporters have made but it doesn’t need to run your webshop - there’s an app for that too. It needs to know about which email campaigns someone has received but it doesn’t need to actually run them. There are specialist tools for these jobs and they can all talk to a modern, cloud-based CRM. The days of the CRM as a kind of Swiss Army knife are over.

For more information about how Donorfy can get you to the start line with minimal drama please visit or contact us at