Tag Archives: CRM & Database Implementation

Preparing your team for a CRM project

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the final entry in a 4 part series  from Dan explaining project delivery issues. 

Ready, set?  Let’s go

A CRM project isn’t something that will just magically happen, sadly.  It’s something that we, as your strategic partners, will work with you on.   We need your internal knowledge to deliver the end goal, and you need our knowledge and expertise to make it happen.

It’s a win-win situation and to make the most of it, a little preparation goes a long way.

How can you prepare and plan for your CRM project?

A key element is to identify and recruit to the project team Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) at the earliest point of the project.

SMEs would be expected not only to be experts in their current systems and processes but also to be experts in the new system going forward.  They’ll work with the Purple Vision project team (which will include your project manager and any resources we bring with us such as specialist developers, data experts etc.  The exact team will depend on your project.

The whole team will deliver the project together, and reports to the Project Board.  A key part of our initial discussions with you will outline overall project responsibility and who should be on the project board.

Let’s consider how your SME’s can help.

Some key tips on how to integrate SMEs into the development process are as follows:

  • Capture ‘user-stories’ from the SMEs early on in the project lifecycle. SME’s are the folks who use the systems we’re looking at day in, day out. They know what they need to do – and what they may not be able to do now that they will need to do.  User stories help us outline what success will look like for these day to day users.  We’ll explain more about all this at the relevant point.
  • The next phase of development is managed through the running of Sprints, ensuring each user story is built into the system. SMEs would work with the Development team at this stage to ensure the user stories are fully understood and interpreted correctly.
  • When we’re working with MVP (see It’s just a phase), we make sure that as soon as the base system is available, load it with sample data and share with SME. These guys – our users – will be rigorous in showing us what might be missing to make our concept turn into reality as early in the project as possible.
  • They’re gatekeepers to others using and adopting the system. Training is key to help SME’s not only work with the development team in configuring the system but in being ready to be an advocate for the system as others in the organisations start to ask questions and get involved.  A key part of this is User Acceptance Testing – the rigorous bit where teams are let loose with real case data to make it work.

Ahead of your project starting, consider who your subject matter experts may be and consider how to free up some of their time to engage in the project when it kicks off.  It need not been an arduous commitment but our experience is that it is easier to release staff to add these tasks to their to-do list if they’ve been considered ahead of time.

Read the full blog series: 

It’s just a phase …

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the second in a series from Dan explaining projet delivery issues. 

Turns out your family is pretty much right. About everything.  Darn it.

Remember ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew’ or ‘you’ll never manage all that’. They were right.  Not about your ability to eat the whole Christmas selection box (just me then?).  Same as they were right when they said “it’s just a phase”.

Not about your excellent taste in hairdos and clothing (just me again, then?).

But if they’d been talking about CRM implementation, they would have been absolutely bang on.

A phased approach

When considering how to blend the right CRM implementation approach for your organisation, we very much encourage a phased approach.

We advise that you start with the very minimum you need to, and then build on all the additional functionality in phased stages after that.  This is known as implementing the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) – “a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development

In the real world of CRM implementation, the MVP means delivering the system with the only the very essential feature in the first instance.


As part of any Discovery Phase, and during the collation of user stories, we would typically conduct a priority rating using the MoSCoW system.

  • Must have – essential features for success
  • Should have – should are essential features but not necessary to be delivered as immediately – they could be delivered as a second phase
  • Could have – typically these would be features that improve user experience or user satisfaction but aren’t functionally essential. If the budget will stretch to it
  • Won’t have / Would like (but probably won’t get!) – the key stakeholders agree that these are not part of the process because they are lowest payback, not immediately essential or perhaps more appropriate for a further development stage of the system (eg in a years’ time at review).

This begins the process of ascertaining what the MVP is that could be launched at the point of go-live.

This reduces the length of the initial phase, brings users on to the system as early as possible so they can actually see it and understand it, and it ensures a low priority requirement does not eat up time and budget in the first phase.

Add integrations … 

Similarly, with system integration, it is unlikely that all systems will need to be integrated in phase 1, so the process of prioritising the ‘Must Have’ points of integration applies here also.   We therefore recommend a phased approach to bringing in the different points of integration.

The downside to this approach is that it may not be completely understood how each area will be integrated or developed from the first point of go-live.

he risk therefore is that subsequent changes, additional costs, or difficult issues come up after the point at which the system is being used live.

This risk can be mitigated through thorough discovery and business analysis across all areas, so the understanding of those areas and requirements are well understood from the outset and the project team have less chance of being faced with a surprise requirement.

CRM Project methodology – which one is ‘right’?

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the first in a series from Dan looking at project delivery issues.

When talking to organisations about implementing a new CRM, one of the most common questions we’re asked is  ‘what implementation methodology do you use?’.

Sometimes, the question is very open as an organisation may never have delivered a technology implementation before, or previously experienced projects in the days before cloud technology when things were quite different.

More frequently, the organisations we work with have done some research or have more experience and will be expecting us to say that we use one of the two best-known methodologies for system development – agile or waterfall.


Waterfall is described as a sequential (non-iterative) design process, used in software development processes, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production/implementation and maintenance.


Agile is described as an iterative, incremental method of managing the design and build activities of information technology that aim to provide new product development in a highly flexible and interactive manner.

The Purple Vision approach

Over many years and hundreds of project, we have learned that the best process to adopt for a technology project is not necessarily one approach or the other, but a blend of both.

If your organisation has significant legacy systems, then there is often a need for a specific ‘go-live’ point – a moment at which the legacy system(s) should end and the new one starts.  A project like this will benefit from a waterfall approach.

The alternative to this is to manage multiple systems for a period of time, which can be complex, costly and risky.

Agile development takes a more phased approach to delivering implementations, and so is ideal for those who have little in the way of legacy systems and therefore no need to make a switch-over at a single moment.  There are lots of advantages including:

  • It engages the system users in the project at an early point and throughout the project. This means by the point of go-live those users have a good understanding of the system and have gained knowledge of the build and use of the system
  • It reduces the risk of the end product being the ‘wrong’ solution. Experience tells us it easier to manage lots of small adjustments on a frequent basis, than it is to manage large infrequent adjustments.
  • Progress is more tangible to the Project Team and engagement in the project may remain higher as a result

The disadvantage of an agile development methodology as we have experienced it, is that is requires a high-level input from process experts on the client side and can therefore impact heavily on business as usual.  If this is planned for in advance however, we believe this is the most effective way of engaging staff in the project and building a successful system with successful user adoption.

Best of both

Our best of both approach gives us flexibility to manage a project in line with an organisations requirements and needs, staff availability and other factors.

An example is a project where an organisation is planning to replace a system it has used for a number of years with something completely different – such as an out-of-date server-based system with a move to a cloud-based solution.

As the server based system may be out of date the team using it may not be able to deliver all of their key functions via this tool and may be using other tools or managing complex work-arounds.  In this situation, we would spend time looking at initiation, analysis and design of the new system (waterfall approaches) to make sure we’re developing and delivering what is needed today and not just copying what has gone before.

We would then be ready to construct and test using a more agile approach.

Which takes longer?

Neither approach is longer or shorter than the other necessarily – the critical factor is not time to deliver, but the project which is being delivered.  To identify a project timescale, we need to consider issues like the technology you’ll be using, how much work needs to be done to tailor the tool to your unique situation, how prepared you are (see another blog for more about this) and availability of key resources (like developers, trainers etc).

Other project terms you’ll hear

  • Iterative – iterative is a fancy word for repetition or frequency. Essentially, for agile developments which are iterative, the project is broken down into set blocks or sprints where work is completed.
  • Sprints – rather alarmingly for non-runners, sprints area often talked about as part of a technology implementation project. Don’t panic!  This term refers to the blocks of time in which work is developed and delivered.  It’s more common to have sprints in Agile development but it is possible to have sprints in waterfall but for different phases. It’s as much a way of everyone planning their time properly as anything else.
  • Legacy systems – this isn’t about giving money in your will. This refers to systems that you have already that may be in use that you are replacing as part of your technology project – be that an old CRM, a series of spreadsheets or anything in between.
  • Scrum – a scrum is a process used by a project delivery team to allocate work out to deliver the project – eg technical work such as things that need building, information needed from project management team, user testing, etc. Scrums cover a set period of time (eg a week, two weeks or sometimes longer).
  • User stories – this is simply a process of mapping out what the users need to be able to do in a system or with a set of functions. Mapping out and agreeing a user story means we all know what we’re working to achieve.

Can we help?

If you would like help and advice from Purple Vision regarding your CRM project, please call us via 0203 127 1249 or email us at [email protected] or via our online contact form.

Selecting a CRM system – for small non profits

We wrote a blog for Salesforce Foundation* this week, sharing some advice for selecting a CRM system for small non profits.

 Here’s the blog: Selecting a CRM system for small non profits

Salesforce Foundation are the ‘charity bit’ of Salesforce – they are guardians of the ‘1% profit 1% time’ that is at the heart of Saleforce’s values.  They manage the allocation of the 10 free software licences that every non profit is entitled to claim, and help charities and non profits see the value and benefit of connected tech to reduce the admin burden and help charities focus on development goals and strategy stuff more clearly.  They’re a lovely bunch of people as well as being full of superb tech advice.

Get your employees excited about Salesforce

Salesforce is a powerful platform and there’s no doubt about that. But research has proved that many companies struggle to leverage its true value.

  • Only 31% of companies reported user adoption of 90 percent (Accenture)
  • 47% of companies reported serious challenges with user adoption that often put projects in jeopardy (AMR Research)
  • Lack of user adoption is cited as the primary cause of 70% of failed CRM projects (Forrester Research)

So, how do you make Salesforce something your employees are excited about and not a boring set of mandatory tasks that they have to perform?

  • How do you get them to realise the potential of a powerful CRM like Salesforce and how it will help improve their performances?
  • How do you ensure highest level of Salesforce user adoption to maximize your investment?

Motivate your employees.

Incentives and rewards are a proven way of engaging and encouraging people to perform and don’t forget to bring in an element of fun.

We have been mapping together these aspects of motivation and fun and arrived at the concept of gamification. Tipster is the result of that experiment.

Here’s how Tipster will get your employees excited about Salesforce.

  1. Learning is fun –Tipster users can view guides set up for specific tasks, layouts or processes from within Salesforce as it is fully integrated. You can make these guides as context and user sensitive as you want because you have complete control over them. After going through the guides the users can answer quizzes set for those guides. The users themselves can evaluate their knowledge and if they are unhappy about their scores they can go through the guides again and retake the quizzes.
  2. Challenge you users – So your employees say they know their way around Salesforce? Give them a way to prove it and be rewarded for it by setting up challenges. Through Tipster you can put together a set of quizzes that we call Challenges and send it to the users and the Leaders Board will get updated based on their performances.
  3. Reward them when they perform – When a user does well on a challenge he or she will get a special place on the Leaders Board along with a title. The management can use the Leaders Board as a platform to assess the level of engagement and competence of the users and reward them accordingly.
  4. Leverage peer pressure – The Leaders board is a public affair. Everyone sees who is better at what and no one wants to be outdone by their peers. This creates the motivation to go through the guides, learn and score Tipster points.

Find out more about Tipster

Salesforce User Training with Tipster

Traditionally, Salesforce user training is a bit of a headache. No one really enjoys it.

The users do not really like the idea that they either have to learn something new or are potentially up for review.

People in leadership roles do not like having to dedicate time, manpower and resources towards training.

However for any successful Salesforce deployment and long term strategy, training is vital.  If users are not trained properly, then adoption of Salesforce will be poor. Poor adoption is the most common reason a CRM deployment of any kind fails.

Introducing Tipster

So what can be done? This is one of the main focuses of Tipster, a new app for Salesforce.

The goal with Tipster was to make a product that stuck to one core value. We want to be able to turn any Salesforce user into an expert user.

So we got stuck in. The result was Tipster. So what does it do? Why is it special?


First of all, it is entirely integrated into Salesforce. No getting the manual out. No searching through shared file servers for the training pdfs written by someone no longer at the company. Just go to any page you want more information about and there are your guides.

Need help with Accounts? The guides are already there. Need help with a custom Visual Force page designed by your team? The guides are there too.

Not only that, they are guides written by your team. The guides will feature the name of the author and your logo. Your users will be able to easily access the entire library of training information ever written and know it was written for them.


Tipster’s second great feature for training is that guides can be directed to different usergroups.

Say you want a beginners guide to ‘leads’ for a brand new set of employees? That is not a problem. Simply make the guide only visible to their usergroup.

Have a really advanced custom sales guide for your best salespeople? Write a guide just for them.

Your users will never feel that the training is above or beneath them. It will always be the information they actually need when they actually need it.

When it comes to training. Why leave it stuck in the dark ages?

You need a context sensitive training program that is fully integrated into Salesforce. That’s what Tipster is.

Find out more about Tipster


Training, Gamification and Tipster

I, personally, am a big fan of gamification, though not so much the word.

I think that adding competitive elements to perhaps not very competitive things is a great way to drive people. I love a challenge. Any-time I get the impression that someone or something doubts my ability to do something, or wants to grade it; it spurs my determination.

With this in mind, Tipster was designed for user adoption on Salesforce.com with a gamification aspect.

While it may seem like a trendy gimmick, I genuinely believe it is a fantastic element. I have seen a lot of organisations who have picked up the Salesforce platform, and struggled to motivate users to use the platform and increase adoption. Gamification is a strong response – and with Tipster, it comes in the form of Challenges and Leader Boards.

Challenges and Leader Boards

A challenge is just that. You can take any guide (which is your business process in Salesforce)  or quiz (a way to test your knowledge about your business processes in Salesforce) written in Tipster and challenge users to complete them. They are given a deadline and the promise of a reward. Once completed, however well they do is reflected in their reward – bronze, silver or gold.

These rewards appear on the company wide Leader Board.

Similar to a performance dashboard in Salesforce, you can see how you perform against your colleagues. Say you take a quiz written on a guide that gives you the basics of writing reports. There are ten questions and you get nine right. You will receive a gold award. The aim here is to drive competition and help your users strive for excellence. It also has another added bonus. If you’re an administrator, you can see who is doing well in quizzes and you can know who is the best at what they do. If you have a particularly lucrative opportunity, or a complex deal to negotiate, you want to know who can deliver. Now with Tipster, you can see directly.

Compelling – fun – learning

With these tools your users will have a compelling learning experience on Salesforce.com, reinforced by a sense of competition. The extra incentives will keep users coming back. Ultimately, this means two great things for any business. You will get users who not only learn more but want to learn how they can effectively and efficiently do things on the Salesforce platform. Increased knowledge and increased adoption onto the platform you have invested in.
So consider this. Would you rather have users bored by learning and shying away from it? Or chomping at the bit and raring to get stuck into it?

Find out more about Tipster

5 tips for IT success in Mergers and Collaborations

Mergers and collaborations – we’re hearing a lot of talk about them in these straitened times and, indeed, there are more and more examples around. So OK, you and the other similar charity (who you’ve been talking to for years) have now decided to collaborate or merge. That’s the hard part, right? Wrong!

Experience shows that, all too often, it’s the nuts and bolts of fundraising and business operations that are forgotten when mergers and collaborations are planned, or worse still – only remembered at the last minute. Here are our top five tips for ensuring IT and systems success when two become one.

1.  Get all the right people at the table

As soon as talks get serious on how your organisation is going to evolve its relationship with another, ensure all the right people are on your project team – and that has to involve technology. There is little point in undertaking due diligence, drawing the organisation models, checking the legal framework and more, unless you know you can actually bolt your IT infrastructures together from Go Live, or have a plan for doing so very soon after. The IT perspective must include all databases and essential satellite systems in use – fundraising, service delivery, volunteer management etc. – as these business areas are all critical to the success of the new organisation.

2.  Plan an inclusive timeframe

Any project manager worth their salt knows that the three constraints on a project are time, cost and scope. Within the wider merger project there will be defined smaller projects, such as a database merger between the two organisations. This in itself is no small task, and needs the appropriate time and money to be allocated so that the required scope (both included and excluded aspects) can be achieved. Recently, one organisation ‘overlooked’ the inclusion of its fundraising database in the merger plan. Faced with the task of incorporating it retrospectively, the options were to either merge it quickly or take longer and consider what the combined businesses really needed. Unfortunately, the former approach was taken, meaning the organisation will not realise the benefits that a longer review and refinement of business processes brings. We expect that further problems are in store, showing that a reduced timeframe not only impacts scope, but also much more in the long-term.

3.  Reference your organisational and fundraising strategies

In a merger, as well as bringing systems together, decisions need to be made on what to keep and what to leave behind. It is essential to take a step back and consider the bigger picture. For example, in terms of the database to choose, whilst the majority of staff may be experienced on System A, would the adoption of System B offer better future-proofing in line with the bigger picture? Retraining staff is easier than trying to get a database to do something it can’t two years down the line. Drawing up a functional specification that represents aspirations of the new organisation will help in decision-making, and is our recommended approach. This will also help at a practical level when deciding how to map the incoming data from System A into System B, as you‘ll know how your fundraising strategy should be reflected in your merged database – essential for those early days KPIs that the Board will demand.

4.  Know your supporter-base overlap

Whilst all those concerned within the organisation (should) know why the merger is happening, how it’s unfolding, and the reasons behind it, never forget that your supporters aren’t part of this communication loop. It’s a very worthwhile exercise to check the degree of supporter overlap across the two organisations (by profile analysis across the two databases). This should, ideally, be undertaken as part of due diligence as, dependant on the results, it could impact heavily on fundraising projections and subsequent activity plans. As the databases are merged, ensure you know who came from where – they may have supported quite different charities and be familiar with communicating in different ways. Appropriate supporter journey plans need to be in place going forward.

5.  It’s all about the people

Perhaps a surprising last tip, but one we believe is essential to these projects – people. Whether it’s the IT person leading the technical changes, or related colleagues in fundraising, supporter care etc.; everyone needs to keep talking and communicating. Of course, even the data on the database is people, and those people are supporters, beneficiaries, eventers, etc. All crucial to the organisation, and all part of why the change process is underway. Remember the people, and you will get there!

Dawn Varley is a Consultant with Purple Vision, and is currently working with three clients post-merger. She was a Trustee of Brook London prior to it merging earlier this year with the wider Brook network, and is a Trustee of the Institute of Fundraising. Dawn is also Vice-Chair of the Institute of Fundraising Technology Group.