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