Overview of the Discovery Phase for a CRM Implementation


The discovery phase of your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) System implementation is very important for your success. In our CRMready webinar series, Keith Heller mentioned how he gets calls from potential clients ready to switch their systems and compared it to a road trip. When he starts asking them questions about where they want to go, what they want to accomplish and if they have a map, they say “I don’t know. Let’s just get in the car and start to drive!” Starting a road trip without a map is like starting your CRM implementation without a discovery phase.

The discovery phase is when you go out and gather information about your organization. You take stock of what systems you have, look at your current business processes, the data that you collect and determine what gaps your current systems have. Then you will evaluate what your greatest pain points are and where you have the greatest opportunities to improve which will help you frame the design of your CRM.

This is not a phase to be brushed over. You need to make sure you include and consider each and every one of your stakeholders. There may be some employees in one department that are still using paper for a particular task, or others that are using excel to track and document data. Bringing them in after your discovery phase will be much harder and take more time, so be sure you interview and include everyone in the discovery phase.

This is also a time to re-imagine and reinvent. Do not get stuck thinking about the new technology or which checkbox needs to be selected for which record. You are also not trying to replicate your legacy system so start to think outside the box. This is when you take out a whiteboard and write down what you are trying to accomplish and what you want this new CRM to look like. What are you working towards? More efficiency? A single donor record? Whiteboard what you envision that looking like.

Discovery is the way you get from today to where you want to be after your CRM implementation.

Watch the CRMready webinar now!

To find out more information about the phases of a CRM implementation, check out our CRMready webinar workshop where you can qualify for a FREE CRMready assessment.

Monika McMahon

About Monika McMahon

Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.


  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    I enjoy the discovery phase because it includes strategy as well as process details. That’s totally appropriate because at a high level your CRM should support you to achieve your strategic goals and at a more granular level your CRM should help you work more efficiently on a day to day basis. For this reason, it’s important to include many stakeholders in Discovery from management to data entry staff.

  2. Thanks for this post Monika. The success of a whole implementation project can hang on discovery. If core detail is not uncovered and reviewed in detail early on, it is pretty much impossible to plan and implement a system around that important information!

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