A Complete CRM Vision: From Beginning-to-End Staffing: Don’t Forget Your Balls

A Complete CRM Vision by Lisa Fay

As your organization prepares for a CRM deployment, it’s critical to determine what you want to look like as an organization after you go live. In this 3-part series, “A complete CRM vision” I will cover three components that should be part of the initial proposal:

  1. A definition of what constitutes CRM use.
  2. CRM ROI. Stay tuned, this conversation has a twist.
  3. Properly aligned staffing models post-deployment, or “from beginning-to-end staffing” – today’s topic.

While planning a CRM deployment, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the myriad of intense and time-consuming tasks you know about and those that come along unexpectedly. Not surprisingly, in the face of all these implementation tasks, the future is often left for the future. This is not the right approach; if your organization does not have the proper support and staff in place upon deployment then the project will not meet expectations.

Include a post-deployment staffing model – budgets, job descriptions, what it means to an end-user – in the project plan at the onset. Create a staffing model for 1-2-3 years out. In fact, do not commit to a CRM project without a commitment from your board and senior management that you will have the proper infrastructure in place once you are live. A handshake is insufficient – get the budget.

The in-your-face nature of the implementation tasks leads me to assume that you know what you need to “go live.” Think about your post-go-live staffing model from both a business perspective and a technical perspective. While there are a handful of models from which to adapt to your organization, there are decisions needed that require thought, organizational buy-in and socialization.

Six Considerations for Staffing:

  • User ecosystem. Number of users and what will they be doing.
  • Philosophy of training and support. The more self-service model vs. the walk-you-through-everything model.
  • Proactive vs. passive user advancement. Proactive models have a heavy focus on communications, listening and relationship building. To succeed with a passive model, your UI and UX should be advanced and intuitive which means you need a clearly defined business process. Don’t be fooled by the word “passive” – these models also have to be resourced.
  • Nitty gritty of support. Define your levels of support, “pass off” process and turnaround time.
  • Roles and responsibilities for all departments touching the CRM, including your business units.
  • In-house application developers vs. outsourcing. Both have pros and cons. Your I.T. staff should make a recommendation that aligns with your organization’s technical roadmap.

As you think through this, you will start to get a picture of what your organization will look like and how an end-user will interact with the people behind the CRM. Let me assure you that you are looking at but a few types of roles: business analyst, power user in a business unit, help desk support, SME support in addition to the more technical I.T. type roles (production support, experts in related applications, developers).

Get approval for your post-go-live staffing plan at the onset and be prepared to hire your team at a time when it makes sense. In future years, you can and will realign resources and roles as needed. Nobody will hold you to the exact specifications of your staffing if you are getting “it” done; your goal is to get approvals for staff in year 0 for years 1 and 2.

Use a deployment partner and gather stories from your colleagues to help you “sell” this beginning-to-end staffing concept; they have experience to help you build a case to convince your senior management and board that a comparatively small investment in staff as you plan for the project will reap big rewards once you are live. Ideally, your CRM – budgets, appropriate staffing, how you will use it – is part of your organization’s strategic plan.

You can’t play tennis without balls; don’t deploy a CRM without the resources that will support your business.

Lisa Fay Wellek

About Lisa Fay Wellek

Lisa Fay Wellek has worked in the nonprofit sector for 20 years with focus on integrating CRM with fundraising. She is the owner of Philanthropy361 LLC, which consults with non-profits about how to best implement and strategically use CRM. She is a frequent project member with build Consulting. She was with JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) for 10 years in various roles including Chief of Staff for Development and most recently, National Director of CRM Strategy. With Lisa Fay’s leadership, JDRF launched LuminateCRM - a Blackbaud product that uses Salesforce.com as its development platform. She believes that in today’s fast paced tech-focused world, non-profits must invest in the right infrastructure and staff in order to be sustainable (let alone grow). Previous posts include: Stevens Institute of Technology, KPMG Consulting and University of Connecticut Foundation.


  1. Tricia Fitzgerald

    Lisa Fay’s suggestion of having a power user in each business unit is right on. I’ve found that’s an excellent way to bridge the core operations team with the larger group of end users.

  2. Mary Pustejovsky

    Great post Lisa Fay! I have seen many projects founder when they did not have a staffing plan in place–or the budget never materialized. They ended up paying far more in consulting fees in the long run because they didn’t have an internal person to “own” the system.

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