CRM, Requirements Gathering – Not a Snooze-A-Palooza!

CRM, Requirements Gathering---Not a Snooze-A-Palooza!

Requirements gathering, that is “what business processes do you want to emulate in your CRM” or in more lay terms, “what does your business want to DO” is really a targeted conversation about how your organization wants to move forward with constituent engagement.

Ten requirements gathering considerations:

  1. Kick start the conversation. Start with topics organized by existing processes; use that as a conversation starter but then pose questions about the ideal world. You don’t want to be constricted by what you currently do because you don’t necessarily want to just replace what you have with the same thing that just looks prettier. A new CRM enables you to do entirely new things so have THAT conversation.
  2. Who. When you organize your sessions have a variety of stakeholders attend from the data management team to the business owner. It’s an opportunity for them to learn from each other and collaborate around an ideal way to operate.
  3. Fun. Make it FUN! You know your organization, rally around the concept of improving the business. Many team members – well the ones you want – will gladly get out of the daily grind and have these aspirational conversations. Some of the aspirations can and will become reality.
  4. Engage a pro. A senior level person should lead these conversations. This is not an I.T. conversation and a junior staff member (even from the business) should not facilitate; it is about your business. It’s important to get this right as it ultimately will define what constitutes success for the project and the business.
  5. Meeting management. Yes, stating the obvious but this one can easily get lost in the shuffle and your rush toward deployment. Every organization has its own aura around meetings. Be mindful that you should not rush requirements gathering. I’m all for the 15 minute meeting – so much can get done with this psychological barrier – but for requirements gathering, plan for more time. Prior to the meeting prioritize the topics. It is guaranteed that if you are engaged in productive conversations, you won’t end early and even your meeting-haters will be okay with it.
  6. Weeds. Inevitably the conversation will go into the weeds. Certainly, there is a time and place for that. A good facilitator will know how and when to force participants to converse on a higher (or different level). Parking lot those weeds especially if they are not priority weeds.
  7. Questions. Challenge everything (in the nicest possible way). Try these: What do you want to do this with data? How will you use it? Do you really need it? Forget what you are currently doing, what is it you really WANT to do? In an ideal world…….this illustrates why a senior-level person should lead these conversations.
  8. Purge. Requirements gathering is also an opportunity to discontinue business processes and as result, clean-up your data by NOT bringing it into the new CRM.
  9. Follow-up. Your facilitator should send a summary of the meeting and give the participants a chance to correct and adjust. The more feedback, the better. It is, after all, their business and their CRM.
  10. Recognize. Thank those who participate in these sessions and alert their supervisor. If appropriate for your organization, send a note to the VP recognizing those who took time out of their already packed day to help. This CRM project is likely outside the scope of your participants’ daily work and performance objectives.

You see, requirements gathering is really about how to grow your business. Give it the time, attention and leadership it deserves. Now you are awake.

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 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.

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