Components of CRM

Components of CRM

CRM is ultimately a strategy, as we’ve discussed at length in our white paper, Making Your CRM Aspiration a Reality. However, implementing the CRM vision relies on physical components to translate that vision into reality. This is why talking about CRM quickly and inevitably leads to such topics as software, websites and integration. Implementation of a CRM vision and strategy are inextricably linked to the technology that enables them.

At Heller we used to think about and talk about the technology enabling CRM as if it were a puzzle, a seemingly apt metaphor with multiple pieces that all fit together to form a whole. Each piece has a unique function and before a puzzle is finished, it’s not fulfilling its purpose. But when complete, it’s very clear that the efforts to put it together have been successful, and the job is done. The puzzle will stay finished forever.

However, we’ve come to see that our puzzle analogy doesn’t do justice to the complexity of CRM in the real world. CRM is not linear, as a puzzle is when it lays on a table. CRM has layers of technology, all interconnected and driven by your organization’s strategic vision of growth, increased constituent engagement,
and mission success:

CRM Layers Graphic

  • The engagement layer is at the point where you and your constituents interact. This is your website/CMS, social media presence, and other communication channels such as phone, mail and email.
  • The analytics layer is represented at the center of the CRM environment be- cause it can incorporate data from any part of the organization. here’s where you make sense of the information you collect on your constituents and inter- actions. It is the thinking engine of your CRM strategy and may include business intelligence tools, segmentation engine and other dashboards and reports.
  • The operations layer is also known as your primary “database(s) of record.” This is what is most often referred to as CRM, though is actually really just one piece of it. This is where you organize interactions, collect history, record financial transactions and manage your day-to-day strategy. 


An effective CRM strategy connects each of these layers so you can continuously hone and improve how you connect with your constituents, improve their experience and expand your impact. The components that comprise each layer will change over time. That’s to be expected, given the ever-changing landscape of new tactics and new technologies. When these layers are working together, they create something greater than the sum of their parts – that’s when your organization can fully leverage your data to make decisions that drive growth and success according to your strategies. Download The CRM Paper Now!

Emma Shipley

About Emma Shipley

I have always held a passion for community involvement, fundraising, and volunteering, which has brought me in touch with a number of nonprofit organizations. During my time at Indiana University, I worked with the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network to connect citizens with their ideal volunteer experience while promoting volunteerism in the community. In addition, I spent the summer of 2012 working as a mentor for adolescent girls ages 5-15 at Girls, Incorporated of Monroe County. I received my degree in Journalism with a focus in Marketing and Visual Communications. In my free time, I enjoy live music, visiting farmer’s markets, trying new recipes, and exploring Chicago.

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