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Overview

South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service (SoLDAS), delivered by Boston Women’s Aid, is a domestic abuse charity providing refuge and support for survivors and their children. The organisation works across remote rural parts of Lincolnshire.

The charity transitioned from a paper-based system to a CRM with the aim of increasing efficiency and more effectively building up a store of background data.

The CRM system eased capacity demands on staff and enabled them to work remotely. The staff were also able to develop a more holistic outlook on caseloads, since team members can easily access information on service users and direct them to the appropriate services.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since January 2016.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a member of staff, I need to be able to access information on service users quickly and accurately
  • As a member of staff, I need a safe, easy, and effective way to share caseloads
  • As a charity, we need to be able to provide data on our work easily and accurately when applying for funding

Software and tools used

Oasis Ontrack CRM system

Women’s Aid Federation of England (WAFE) along with software company Oasis have developed a bespoke service for organisations providing support in the fields of domestic abuse or violence against women.

Cost

Pricing available upon request from Oasis.

Considerations

The solution has been specifically developed by people who deliver a support service to those experiencing domestic abuse. It follows the format of nationally recognised refuge referral forms that are specific to calculating risks for survivors.

The solution is available at a reasonable price.

The solution is consistently updated.

Training is available and can be delivered remotely or in-person. All training is provided by WAFE, who will understand the specific needs of the services using their platform.

The solution is specific to certain areas of work so would not be appropriate for charities working in other fields. It’s a bespoke package for charities working with those experiencing domestic abuse.

Recipe steps

1. Hold brainstorming sessions

Hold sessions with your team to figure out what your organisation needs from a CRM and why it needs to provide these particular functions.

Consider which team members to involve when asking what they need from the system.

Collate these findings and discuss them during a team meeting. Take time to distil these findings down to a concise list of your charity’s needs.

2. Acknowledge resistance from staff

Be aware that some staff can be resistant when it comes to changing methods of working.

Some may feel that converting face-to-face work into more digital means (e.g. recording notes into the system as opposed to on paper when speaking with a user) can dilute the effectiveness of what they’re doing.

By including individuals who feel uncertain about a new process into brainstorming sessions, you can help staff to understand how much more it would add to the service.

3. Research the available software

Do your research into CRM systems. You might be surprised that your specific area of work may already have a system that is tailored to the work you do and the requirements you have.

Consider bespoke options if you have needs that cannot be met by ‘off the shelf’ CRM systems. This is because you should have a system that works for you, and not the other way round.

Make sure that the organisation selling the CRM system has a detailed description of it so that you feel you have a good understanding of what it can do for you.

4. Choose the system

Make contact with the organisation selling the CRM system and if you have the chance, trial the solution or request a demo before purchase.

Consider what bonus features might be available – does the organisation offer training and software support?

Look at other organisations who are using the system and how they implement it into their own work. This can inform you of how to implement it within your own charity in ways that you may not have initially considered.

Prepare to invest into the CRM system. You may need to buy updated IT equipment that can work alongside the system, but you can look into how this equipment can be used elsewhere in your organisation to make it flexible and optimise other operations. You may need to consider applying for funding in this instance.

5. Train staff to use the CRM system

See if training is offered by the organisation who designed the CRM system.

Plan the training well and don’t try to do it all at once. Do it in bite-sized chunks, such as spreading three days of training over the space of three months. This allows staff to learn, then take some time to practise and apply their learning until they feel comfortable to digest more information and training.

Implement this training into onboarding processes.

Remember that training is a way for those who felt resistant to feel empowered about using the tool to help their work.

6. Keep the system up to date

If there are new modules or updates on offer, your charity should consider taking them. You never know when you may need this update or additional feature within the system, but by keeping the system up-to-date, you ensure that your charity is staying up-to-date with requirements funders might ask of you and any projects you may embark on.

If you have opted for a bespoke system, you should test the system and see how it can continue to work for your charity. Any ideas on what can be changed can be fed back to the organisation in charge of updating your CRM.

7. Use your CRM system for various needs

Be flexible with how your CRM system can be implemented in various aspects of your charity’s work.

While data gathering for purposes such as evidence of need is vital for your charity’s funding, you can also use it to directly impact service users. For example, compile all the background documentation about your users so that the person/family can be continuously supported by different members of staff.

8. Gather feedback from staff

Make sure that your staff feel empowered to make suggestions about the system, especially for bespoke CRMs, as these suggestions can be worked upon to change the software in a newer version/update.

Have it as an agenda item on your team meetings to go through any changes you may want to implement. This is also a good time for peer learning, where staff can notify each other of ways they have used the CRM system for a particular task.

Guidance

Don’t be afraid of the system, it’s there to work for you. It’s there as one of your tools.

If you have any issues with the CRM system, see if there are any other organisations that have come across these same issues and how they’ve managed to overcome them. Peer learning can be valuable in these instances.

Risks

There is a big risk that you buy the wrong system, especially if you have applied for funding and you find that the system really doesn’t work for you.

You may be pushed by a cheaper cost to go for a system that doesn’t work for you, or even by a persuasive salesman. Do your homework before you embark on buying a CRM system.

Points of contact

For further information about this recipe, you can contact:

Marie Chapman, Funding and Development Manager

Thanks

Many thanks to South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on April 12th, 2021. Last updated April 12th, 2021