Tag Archives: From the team

Get ready, get set, GDPR

Getting ready for GDPR

Ready, set, GRPR

I recently wrote a piece for the Just Giving blog called 4 lessons for charities as we prepare for GDPR  in which I presented four lessons we can learn from the recent (March 2017) fines imposed on two businesses for data breaches as they made their own preparations for GDPR.

My four lessons were based on Honda and Flybe, who were caught out trying to prepare themselves for GDPR (the irony!), but who ignored the rules of PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations) in the process.  Essentially, they emailed to ask if they could stay in touch or if the details were correct.

My four lessons were:

Lesson 1: if you don’t have permission for a channel, you can’t ask for permission via that channel (so if you don’t have permission to email, you can’t email to ask for permission to email; if you don’t have permission to call, don’t call). 

 Lesson 2:  don’t ask for ask for permission from people who have actively opted out of receiving communication via the channel you are using.  While writing to people to ask if you can email them might sound a bit bonkers, if that is the communication approach you have consent for, that is how you must do it.

Lesson 3: be clear about what you have permission to do and what is covered by your permission. As you craft new permission statements, consider what you may want permission to do in the future, as well as what you may want to do now. 

Lesson 4:  Don’t be caught out in a GDPR compliance bubble and forget about other rules and regulations that apply – or about people. Making people-based decisions rather than data-based decisions shows due respect to our supporters and will give them confidence in our integrity as an organisation.

In a short blog for Just Giving you can’t go into the detail that you’d like though, and never short of something to say … I carry on below.

Getting GDPR ready using these lessons.

I think we can look at the case of Honda and Flybe and see how easily this could have been a charity making these errors.  Heck, we can probably even see the thought process in our own organisations looking to make these decisions.

However, we also need to consider that these rules are not just about how we fundraise, they are organisation wide.  They are about how we communicate with our donors, staff, volunteers – everyone who is connected to our organisation.

I think the rules come down to a bigger series of considerations and discussions that you need to have within your organisation about permissions and ‘permissioning’ – which is not an *actual* word but soon will become a big part of the charity management lexicon.

Where & when you ask

If you don’t have permission to email a donor, how can you get permission to email a donor?

There are many legitimate ways you can try and obtain email permission – for example via social media campaigns, sign up links on your website and even via direct mail.  If you have telephone permissions and active calling programme, you could even ask via this means too.  You just can’t ask for permission for that channel (email) via the channel you want to use (email).

If obtaining permission is s a priority for your organisation, ensure that sign-up forms are embedded on every page of your website, on every blog and that you have a regular ‘drive’ to legitimately obtain additional data.

How you ask

Why would your donor give you any details?

How you ask for something that the donor values – their personal data – is critical.  A wrong move could put them off as much as make them want to sign up. On a practical note, there are a range of methods to asking (but take note, massive popups on website screens are off-putting and will earn you penalties in Google and annoy readers by blocking content). [links to Google Webmaster blog]

On a human level, the tone of the ask also needs to be sensitive the channel you are using.  But more importantly, sensitive to your audience. You know all this of course, from your crafting of fundraising messages.  Permission asks aren’t that much different, except the beneficiary is the organisation.

There’s a balance between the timid ‘would you like to sign up’ and the demanding ‘sign up instantly’ that will be right for your charity’s tone of voice.  It is worth split testing some approaches out and changing the messaging to keep things fresh.

The issue of transparency also comes into play for how you ask for permissions – if this were your data, would you be happy that a company is relying on a clause hidden away in a set of terms and conditions to cover what you want to do with your data?

Which leads us onto what we are asking for permission to do.

What are you asking permission for?

This is the nub of the issue as far as our GDPR and PECR regulations are concerned – what are we asking permission for?

‘Sign up for our newsletter’ is a very broad statement. It may as well just read ‘give us your email, we’ll figure out what to do with it later’.

One of the ICO ‘tests’ is to ask the question – what would a person reasonably expect you to do with the data from what you have asked.  Is it clear?  It’s time to get granular – another central theme of the GDPR preparation process.

If you have a great email newsletter list –and that’s what you asked people to sign up to, that is all you can do with their data. You can’t send them a customer service announcement about your charity (here’s looking at you, Honda).

Of course, much can be contained within a newsletter (like your annual review and details of your latest campaign), but you also need to avoid your newsletters becoming cluttered, unfocused and impersonal (back to batch and blast) – and therefore irrelevant and easy to want to unsubscribe from.

One approach could be to consider all the kinds of activities your charity offers and ask for permission for each of them.  A helpful way to start with this can be to look at your departments. Typically, they’ll relate to what your organisation delivers.  Eg HR, fundraising, communications, governance, policy /campaigning.

  • what do they do (or want to do) that you may need permission for?

Another option to consider is what you also want to do with the data that you have.  Several charities recently fell afoul of ICO for using donor data for wealth screening.  

What we have learned from this is like our Honda/ FlyBe lessons.  It is not what they were doing per se that was the issue, it was their permission to do it – would a donor who gave them details have ‘reasonably expected’ to be profiled and screened like this based on what they were told when they signed up?

  • Ask once for now and the future – consider your 5-year plan and what current technology can offer in terms of insight as you craft new plans – even if you are not using technologies to help profile your web visitors now, or wanting to screen donors, or using predictive tools to help prospect for new donors, you may want to do that in 2 years’ time.  And when you want to do it, you will need to have permission to do it.  Machine learning is the way forward – plan for it now even if the reality of it still isn’t clear to you.
  • Third parties – this also brings to bear the point that is raised in GDPR guidelines about how you use data with third parties too, and your need to declare how they will use the data too.  Explore that alongside your permission work here and be as clear as you can.  Third parties are everyone from your mailing house to potential agencies you may send data samples too for segmentation, research, data cleaning and so on.

Where are you storing and recording these permissions?

Should the ICO come a-knocking in the future, after you’ve made them a cup of tea and talked about the weather, the questions will come.  One of the questions they may ask is where you can prove that you had permission to send x y or z person a b or c email/direct mail/text.

The paper trail [ surely a redundant term in our digital age] in an ideal world, would lead to your CRM or database, where you can look this up with ease, and respond confidently.

In your current situation:

  • could you look up where you asked for permission to contact someone and identify the permission that a person gave?
  • could you look up the form they used to sign up and double check the language?

How you are storing your data is one of the fundamental questions that GDPR brings us back to.

It covers the requirement for data to be held securely – which is a separate area of conversation about access to devices, security protocols et al  (and usually ends with a conversation where someone reminisces about leaving a laptop of client data on a train).

For this article, consider these areas.

  • how are you managing your data?
  • do you run on Excel and end up with multiple departmental spreadsheets because that’s the only data you ‘trust’?

Heck, I am sure some people still use a card index or have a special address book.

That’s all data and that’s all covered by this.

How are you going to manage permissions?

A few preference centres are popping up on the market claiming to be the answer to all your GDPR woes.

While they may be part of a solution that works for you, I strongly urge you to think more widely than this before buying a panacea that you may not need.

There are key questions to ask and answer first about how your organisation is going to work together before you get to the technical bits.   Fundamentally, GDPR means it is finally, genuinely, time to say bye bye data silos and say hello to collaborative working with consistent data and access across the organisation.

No preference centre or legacy system is going to make that work for you.  That’s about organisational culture.  So, we need to do the people and process thinking ahead of the technology.

Some questions to help you explore this area and decide how to manage it in your organisation include:

  • Could any user log on and know that they cannot email a donor or beneficiary or that they cannot write to a resident?
  • Where and how will you record when a client, donor or beneficiary decides they don’t want to receive further communications?
  • What if they change their mind about a channel they already gave permission for?
  • If someone unsubscribed from direct mail today, how long would it take for their permission to catch up with data selections you have already made for future campaigns?

There are several creative ways to stick a temporary sticky plaster on any systems you are currently using this while you consider the bigger picture.

Don’t rush straight into more permanent fixes to your systems integrations that will give you the sought-after 360-degree view or more integrated and comprehensive data source – think them through with and beyond GDPR.

Evidence of Permission

If you can’t find evidence that you’ve asked for permission to do something, the safest approach may be to consider that you don’t have permission at all.

This may mean you cannot contact that person.

This is something of a bitter pill for many looking at their database.  It is going to reduce the number of active contacts and the number of people who may support you as a result.

The long and the short of it is that compliance with GDPR is the start of a new road and approach to how we look at our data – and our strategy for managing acquisition will need to adapt accordingly.

A human appeal: people = data

Alongside all this work we must do about data, I’d like to add the human appeal. When we talk about data, we’re talking about people.  We talk about donor journeys and build experiences around them based on things they’ve told us they want to do, what we want them to do (and ideally the two mirror each other).  These journeys are individual’s personal interactions with us.

Some of the GDPR rules you are now considering may worry you because they could (or will) have an impact on the valuable work that you do (for example, if you have a major donor and no contact permission to call, how are you going to move forward?).

Remember too that other charities and businesses up and down the country are having to do the same.  The charity you donate to, the online shop you buy those superb shoes from. They are looking at your data. How do you want them to treat you?

This ‘conscience and integrity’ test is one I find helpful all the time as a reminder that behind that spreadsheet (which is password protected and kept on a secure system, obviously) are real people and real lives, not just unique identifiers and permission sets.

It is easy to forget this.

Authors note:  this article is not intended as legal advice.  Note that this covers the legal basis for consent-based marketing and fundraising. Other legal basis for data processing may apply in your organisation.

Where to get Guidance and Information.      

Need help? 

If you need a data audit, an internal seminar to get your team up to speed with the basics of GDPR and ready to move forward, or need help to adapt your systems to meet your new preference management approach, Purple Vision can help.

Whatever your question, we’re happy to help.   You can

5 things we have learned from our ‘more to fundraising CRM’ breakfasts.

Since September, we’ve been running a provocatively titled breakfast series:

There’s more to fundraising CRM than Raiser’s Edge. Honest. 

Let’s be clear about one thing.  We’re not RE haters.  Far from it – many of the team here have used Raisers Edge for years, in fact, we started life consulting about it when Purple Vision was founded in 2003.  It is a stalwart of the fundraising world.

For every RE lover, we also know that there several more who are frustrated with where things are with the database – years of little investment and development. They’re stuck trying to adapt a dinosaur to the 21st century, and we hear the frustration of users feeling like they are stuck with this as there’s nothing else on the market that even compares for heavy duty, heavy lifting fundraising work.

Organisation and tech are intertwined

There are two parts to that issue obviously – just one is technology related, and the other is the organisational impetus, but both issues inform each other.

Often, one of the challenges that charities are facing in looking at Raisers Edge and whether to consider RE NXT or other tools is that other tech has been adopted to plug a gap.  The result is a  disconnected proliferation of tools that has only served to feed the frustration as data is not where it needs to be to run successful campaigns.

Hopes were high a few years ago when Raiser’s Edge announced NXT.

Hopes were dashed as charities realised it wasn’t all they’d dreamed of, and the price was as aspirational as they’d feared it might be.

Of course, options exist to upgrade to other Blackbaud products – let us not forget their full range (overview here) and the fact that there are many for whom these tools are just what they need.

Here’s what we learned from the breakfast series

Having delivered several More to… breakfasts where we outline the shared frustration (that’s news to some – they think they are alone in thinking RE is a beast!) and look at where technology is today, we’ve learned a few key insights about how fundraisers feel about their tech.

1          Everyone is REconsidering whether to move to NXT

2          Very few organisations are automatically upgrading

When RE NEXT was announced, it felt like a foregone conclusion that RE users would upgrade.  As time passes since its release, fewer charities are inclined to tick the box to update. Still more are waiting for insight into what the leading charities are going to do with their tech.

Aside from a few early adopters, there seems to be little talk about who is making the move to NXT and a lot of talk about who is looking at alternatives or looking at CRM projects.   Meanwhile, information about pricing and the like for NXT is still quite esoteric for those looking to eye up the marketplace – real costs are only really available if you speak directly to Blackbaud (which to be fair is the case with many tech providers, but we appreciate it does make it hard to get a full picture and there seems to be more “out there” on the net about other tools than RE).

3          We’re meeting Generation Y – and they don’t like it.

For a generation born with the steep uptake in tech and who are used to adopting tech and digital trends as they emerge, Raiser’s Edge is probably best described with some of the more colourful hashtags and emoji’s that form part of our modern parlance, with multiple exclamation points after each one.

It is a real dinosaur for this generation – our fundraising directors in the making – to get their heads around.  Where’s the flexibility? Integration? Why can’t I manipulate my data like I want to? On my phone?

Generation Z is about to enter the workforce – this is the generation born with a phone nearly surgically attached to them – just imagine what they are going to make of it.  How are you even going to get them to use it?! What will that mean for fundraising records?

4      Mid-sized charities are now looking to moving away from Raiser’s Edge

5      There are still question marks over whether Salesforce is a proven fundraising platform.

Of course, the alternative to RE is a platform based fundraising solution – recognising that there are multiple other fundraising database products around, there are two key players in the CRM market at this level – Microsoft and Salesforce.

Back in 2010, Purple Vision nailed its colours to the Salesforce mask and we’re a registered Salesforce partner.  We’re also still independent – we don’t work exclusively with Salesforce and so are perhaps more receptive to any criticism that is levelled at the platform than some others.

Right now, a host of charities aren’t convinced that Salesforce has fundraising crm all sewn up.  Much has changed in the past year about this, though, and we recognise that a lot of information isn’t yet fully appreciated by fundraisers.

How many know that the NPSP – the Non-Profit Success Pack – was fully relaunched last year (it was first known as the starter pack) and the content significantly ‘beefed up’?

More content for grants management and programme management was added and a comprehensive product roadmap outlined – it’s just an all-around better product for charities.  Meanwhile, non-profit discounts now extend to all the array of cloud services (from Marketing Cloud to Pardot, service cloud to communities).

Despite all this, we’re not seeing a lot of new non-profit adoption case studies that resonate with the mid-size charity audience.

None of these tools for Salesforce look like Raiser’s Edge though which is also part of the adoption problem.  The tech is current and so is quite a leap for some users to take to move to a completely new and unfamiliar interface with such a mix of users within their teams.

5 Causeview looks good – but can it ‘cut the mustard’?

The one tool for Salesforce that does ‘look’ like Raiser’s Edge (and by the look we mean that fundraisers review and see how they can immediately replicate essential fundraising processes with ease) is Causeview.

It is a managed package of fundraising functionality that sits on top of Salesforce and makes the most of the power of the behemoth CRM.  It brings together essential functionality for fundraisers, volunteer management and a bit of event management.

It’s already in use in more than 150 charities in North America, Australia and Europe – but only a handful in the UK.

The market response to Causeview is good when it’s demoed and the price is fair for the functionality – but a few more case studies will help those who are wavering between NXT upgrades and a platform shift to make their move.

The good news – a whole new crop of users will be going live shortly which will help build even more confidence.  Just watch this space.

Sign up for our next breakfast and join the debate: 

10 May 2017 – 09.30 (Purple Vision) 

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3 steps to tech success for small charities

Why we’ve launched Salesforce NPSP QuickStart for small charities

We’ve got a campaign running right now for small charities.  Called three steps to tech success, it’s aimed at helping the smaller nfps to take the first step with tech.

3 steps to tech success for small charities - click for the guide. bit.ly/3stepstech

But what’s it all about?

There comes a tipping point for most small charities where they need to do something more than using a list in Excel and calling that a ‘database’.

It’s at that point that the questions start…  Should you dare to ask about CRM or any questions around CRM on a public forum lots of folks will respond with well-meaning advice and other folks trying to sell you their favoured solution.

We’re in both camps, but hear us out.

What are the favoured solutions?

The responses that come back include a list of some typical solutions, the option to build your own solution (usually with comments about how much cheaper it is to do this), Salesforce (who will give you it all for free – more on this later)  and Donorfy.  There may be a few other random suggestions in there like Zoho or other favoured small solutions.   So, now we have a  list of CRM options, which is kind of what we asked. But for one thing.

We asked the wrong question. 

The question that would get a better list of real options to look at is one which narrows down what you want to do with your CRM.  How can I better manage my fundraising? What kind of fundraising do I do and how does that map to tech options? Do I need to use a ‘database’ to manage programmes and keep track of grant applications?

Ask the question again and the list that comes back may be different, or it may not.  But your approach to evaluating the responses certainly will be as you have a considered set of criteria.

So, what of the names on our list?  Nothing wrong with some of the tools on the list.  But what say time and time again in response to questions like this – and articles like the top 10 best CRMs for non-profits (UK Fundraising)  is a simple truth – what’s right for one, may not be right for another.

With one exception.  And I’ll come onto that.

Ignore the advice to build your own CRM – you’ll be tying yourself to an expensive tool that you need to replace in a few years and one person who knows how it is structured and built, making it hard to shop around for talent to help you develop.  Zoho and some of the other tools aren’t really designed for charities, so making the user experience much harder. Stick to things designed for charities at least if you want user adoption to succeed.

Think about whether you need a database or CRM (links to a Purple Vision blog on just that subject).  Look at the age of the tech for some of the other options. Are they really fit for purpose?  What are the up front, hidden and ongoing costs?

What’s the exception?

Salesforce is the exception to the rule that one size doesn’t fit all.  The world’s biggest CRM may not seem an obvious choice for a small charity with hardly any staff, but it has a compelling narrative for non-profits.

We don’t just mean ten free enterprise licenses (worth £££) although that itself is fairly compelling.  We mean the Non-Profit Success Pack (NPSP).  In its latest iteration, NPSP offers the vast complexity of a huge tech platform for business, packed up for non-profit functionality and rooted in charity language and processes.

What NPSP brings to the party is that you have an extendable platform that will grow with you.  In 3-5 years’ time when your strategy has changed, you’ve upped to the next level and need additional functionality, it’s all there waiting for you.  No need to change systems again, go through the procurement process again, get everyone in the team on the same page and teach everyone a new way to do things.  Or even start the process of looking for systems you can ‘glue together’. Nope.  Choose a platform solution like Salesforce, do all that once – and then just keep growing it as you need to.

Getting started with Salesforce

If you ask questions on public boards – like you did with the wrong question –  you’ll probably hear that Salesforce is hard to use out of the box and therefore not suitable for small charities.  That’s a bit like saying electricity isn’t suitable for a small charity because you need an electrician to add a new plug socket.

You might even hear that it’s free because Salesforce staffers donate time to get charities set up.  This is honestly a huge triumph of hope for budget stretched small charities.  What *is* true is that some staff time is donated by Salesforce to some charities – read about the 1:1:1 model to learn more and some folks who are learning Salesforce coding and set-up offer pro bono time while they’re learning so they can practice on you.  Just like everywhere in life, it’s hard to find genuine and real meaningful help for free.  Hope over experience that it’s free, I am afraid.

But we can understand why both these things are said, it’s a shame that they’re wrong and are oft repeated.

It’s true you can’t plug n play Salesforce unless you have a great tech resource on your staff team.  The reality is though that you can’t really plug n play any system that’s worth you using.  There are degrees of set-up required.  We’re the first in line to say that while Salesforce is a super-system, it does need a bit of know-how to sort out.  And in the same way you call an electrician for your plug socket, you’d call a partner to help.

Salesforce partners (hint: Purple Vision are a Salesforce partner)  have very clever tech experts on their teams who can make Salesforce do just about anything.  To achieve this, they ask multiple questions, review business process, talk strategy and future plans, and then create awesome things that meet your specification.  What’s helpful is the common language they use to create Salesforce, which means anyone who ‘speaks’ the language will be able to look at your system in the future and pick up where someone else has left off.

Which brings us onto QuickStart

We’ll be honest, it’s not always cheap to work with a partner – the skills behind Salesforce are complex and technical, and in the manner of other professional services like a lawyer or accountant, time is billed by days or hours.  Time is money.

Which is why we have come up with our NPSP QuickStart offer.

In reality, while many charities have quite a unique approach to their work, many have very similar functionality requirements from a system when they’re getting started.  We know this because we’ve worked with lots of them across a range of systems – and across Salesforce.  Plus, many of our NFP team have also worked charity-side, in the hot seats that our clients sit in – so understand the requirements and what needs to get done.

Our QuickStart offer, therefore, is set up to save the time involved in the detailed discovery sessions and get straight on with delivering Salesforce NPSP in a way your charity can use it.

By doing this and offering this service, what could be a complex and costly process becomes quite simple.   Our focus with QuickStart is in both the quick element – we can deliver this quickly for you, and in our start bit – and the focus on providing you with the start you need to get using a tool.

Choosing QuickStart

NPSP is suitable for all charities to use – but QuickStart has been designed with quite specific functionality in mind and the needs of smaller charities for fundraising.  We’re not offering complex processes here – if you really need that our QuickStart service might not be for you (but NPSP is still suitable – it just needs more of those hours to get it how you want it).

QuickStart brings to life a manageable set of the full-technical and functional force of the Salesforce behemoth. It is suitable for small charities looking for their first fundraising CRM, looking to upgrade from a spreadsheet and MailChimp. It’s suitable for charities with plans to grow.

When said charity is ready to grow – in fundraising, programmes, comms, finance, HR and all the key functional areas, it’s just a case of identifying what you need and working with a partner you trust to build out the system for you to take you to the next steps.  SThere is so much rich functionality in Salesforce Non-Profit Success Pack – and more is being added all the time – that it’s a shame to overlook it all in favour of a short -stop solution.

Find out more: 

Sign up to the paper – 3 steps to tech success for small charities






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pledge-1-3

We’ve taken the pledge – pledge 1%

Fear not, this is no pronouncement of our support for the temperance movement (though ask us after our Christmas Party and we may say differently).   This is about why we’ve chosen to Pledge 1% and what it means to us.

Read about Pledge 1%

About the Pledge

Pledgeonepercent is – in a neat and tidy nutshell – all about corporate social responsibility.  Giving back.  Being active members of the communities we live in.  It is a philanthropic movement to encourage businesses of all sizes to be good citizens as well as good employers.

Essentially, you can pledge four things

  • Equity – this is the polite way of saying cash.
  • Product – if an organisation has a software product, offering 1% of that product for non-profits to use is included in this
  • Time – the simplest metric of all – staff days or time.
  • 1/1/1 – all three of the above elements.

Why we’ve taken the Pledge

Purely and simply, we’ve taken the pledge as we believe it fits with our values and ethos as an organisation – where we are now and where we started from.  Doing the right thing and being on our customer’s side are critical to who we are and what we do, and what makes us ‘purple’ as a team.  Making sure we stay focused on our part in the world matters to us.

Of course, we could just have got on with doing our bit without signing a pledge.  Many organisations do.  We’ve chosen to sign up so that we can be counted as part of the movement, and help others to look at and consider the pledge too.  Collective impact of a movement is easier to measure – and with measurement comes the evidence of what the programme is achieving.  And thus encourages more organisations to take part in something meaningful.

How we set about doing it.

Applying to participate is the easy bit.  Understanding how our team – a group of strong individuals – want to use that time a little more complicated.

Mike, our Chief Operating Officer and organisational development specialist, opted for a staff survey to gather opinion and ideas about the kind of benefits the team would expect to gain, and also look at the initiatives we could consider as a team.

Collating the feedback was enlightening.  Not least because it revealed the extent to which staff are already freely involved in giving of one kind or another.  Most importantly, it revealed more of the spirit that sits in the Purple Vision team and the passions that drive individuals in their daily lives.

The majority in the team asked the organisation to steer away from collective activities that involved politics or religion, but these are of course a strong personal preference for many and our relationships at work are already respectful of any boundaries that these two areas can create – so it felt like a natural ask from the team and one we are happy to accept.

Our collective endeavours will focus on areas where we have identified a shared concern or passion.

What it means for us

We’re keen that Pledge 1% is real and meaningful for the Purple Vision team, so this may be all you ever learn of our Pledge.  It’s really important for us that this isn’t about PR, but this is about doing the right thing to be members of our society and community.

Mainly, we’ll give our time as individuals, but probably for one day a year, we’ll work on a project as a team together.  Quietly, without pomp, but with a lot of purpose.

For some of us it will be a continuation of the kind of things we’ve already been doing.  For others a chance to explore opportunities that we may not have had before, to participate, understand and learn.

1% is a small step in the right direction.

Of course, in an ideal world, companies would be able to offer more than what sounds like a humble 1% to achieve meaningful and impactful social change.  1% sounds small.  1% time is 3 staff days a year – that also doesn’t sound a lot on paper.

But look two things here.

  • We’re a small company and 3 days a year is a lot of potential work time. So it is a sacrifice for us to make at an organisational level.
  • For our team of 20, 3 days each is 60 days a year. 2 calendar months a year of time, or 480 hours in working time

We know we can make a difference in that time.

More info:

  • If you’d like to know more about Purple Vision’s approach to Pledge 1%, give us a ring and ask to speak to Mike, or send your enquiry via our web form.
  • To sign the Pledge for your organisation, visit the website: – http://pledge1percent.org/

Pledge 1%

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

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

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.