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Thoughts & Musings

Congratulations, You’ve Gone Live! Now What?


You’ve spent months if not years planning for this big day.  From RFPs, to product selection, to pulling staff away from their day-to-day jobs to design and test the new system.  And don’t forget the countless hours mapping data and the tedious process of validating your migration. But finally, you reached it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labor, right? YES!  By all means, enjoy your weekend...because Monday is when the real work begins :)

After hundreds of CRM implementations, there’s one thing I’m sure of - the success of your rollout heavily depends on how well you prepare for post-go-live. And where many organizations think the support plan they bought through their vendor will suffice, product issues are rarely where organizations get tripped up in the first few months.

So what can you do to make sure you’re still celebrating after go-live? Consider these 5 steps:

  1. Training, training, and more training!  Let’s face it, your team was multitasking through that half-day session you set up weeks before go-live.  Of course they did, they have big problems to solve in the world! And no matter how “hands-on” the exercises were, the real questions will arise when your staff’s day-to-day job relies on getting information in and out of the system.  So plan regular face-to-face training for the first several weeks of go-live and on-going. Make short videos available of key features and functionality so staff can refer back to it without having to scan through an eight hour recording.  A combination of face-to-face, videos and short “how-to” one-pagers are always a great approach.

  2. Business Process.  If training only focuses on “how the product works”, you can kiss your user adoption goodbye!  No matter how much you train on system navigation, unless there are clear business processes defined (especially where the process is now different), users will be lost.  Think about how their lives will be different with the new system, think about about what new functionality is being introduced. For example, when should I create a soft credit?  How do I find out when a pledge payment is made? What is the protocol to contact a constituent managed by someone else? What level of review is required in order to process a gift?  Sure there are some people whose lives are more impacted than others when on-boarding a new CRM (hint: gift processors), it’s imperative to make sure they are comfortable with both the product and the process before go-live.

  3. Define A Change Process.  Change is hard and users need an outlet to express what’s working and what’s make it easy for them!  Ideally, create a simple form in your CRM system where bugs and enhancements can be routed to the appropriate party.  Set up a small committee that cross-represents your organization (hint: not just IT) that reviews these items. And if possible, set up a bi-weekly or monthly meeting where requesters can speak their piece before the items are prioritized.  There are many methodologies to how requests can be categorized, but some variation of ranking the urgency, severity and impact is always a good start.

  4. Schedule regular releases.  Many organizations do monthly “maintenance” releases to address bugs or to make urgent fixes and schedule quarterly releases for bigger ticket items and enhancements.  If your user base feels their CRM is evolving and improving over time, they will be more patient with you during the challenging times.

  5. Hire or assign an admin.  Although it’s terrible for my business to say this, the truth's costly to keep us consultants around forever post go-live.  Larger organizations should consider a full-time administrator where smaller organizations should consider a part-time administrator.  It’s imperative to have someone on staff who can easily troubleshoot and fix minor issues or implement simple configurations to make your staff’s life easier.  It's also good for someone designated in-house to manage ongoing data hygiene, make sure upgrades are being performed, and monitor what new features and functionality are available, both by your CRM vendor and partner applications.  In order for you to fully leverage all that CRM has to offer over time, having a designated admin is a must!

Remember CRM is journey, not a destination.  If you want to reap the benefits of all your hard work...plan for the long-game, and make sure you are ready for Monday!

Rubin Singh (@RubinSingh) is the Founder and CEO of OneTenth Consulting.  OneTenth has a full range of services for small and medium nonprofits, from fundraising strategy, to CRM selection, to implementation and training.  OneTenth empowers nonprofits by aligning their organizational, fundraising, and technology strategies - providing the tools and insight they need to meet their goals and achieve their mission.