Selecting a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platform is a critically important task and one that can have various levels of complexity. There is a large amount of information to be learned and implemented, and considerations should be given to how the platform impacts the growth of your organization.
While there are many ways to approach selecting a suitable CRM platform, it’s important to note that criteria should be centered on more than a system’s affordability. While this is certainly important, the long-term sustainability of the platform should not be forgotten. Keeping this in mind, here are four points that may help you in choosing a suitable CRM platform:
Traditional CRM platforms reside on-premises at the organization, however, there are also a variety of cloud-based hosting solutions where the CRM is accessible via the internet.
There are pros and cons to each approach. The general advantages of a cloud-based CRM solution include:
- No new hardware or IT infrastructure required
- Lower initial costs and no software licensing fees
- Low monthly cost for services (generally determined by the number of users)
- Quick setup
- Greater level of integration with other systems for automated processes
On the other hand, on-premises CRM solutions often provide benefits like:
- The software can run on your own hardware and is managed internally
- Greater control over data processes and confidential information
- Dedicated IT staff for system support
- Flexibility to determine when you want to upgrade your system
When choosing a CRM for your organization, the question, “How much will it cost?” is almost certainly at the top of your list.
Like most technology driven products and services, CRMs are available in a range of cost tiers, with the more expensive generally offering your organization more options, greater usability, integration capability, and support.
While a few platforms are “plug-and-play,” most will require some outside programming. This level of development, often required just to get started, will also significantly impact cost considerations.
As more and more donor communications move online, integration between your databases, email platforms, and websites are growing in importance.
While not mandatory, the capability for a CRM to ‘talk’ with other technology is very useful in looking toward the future. As your organization grows and continues to expand, due consideration should be given to the level of support and personalization your chosen CRM platform can offer to your donors, volunteers, and guests. Many platforms offer automated integration, however, if a manual system is required for day-to-day functionality, it will become more of a stumbling block as you grow.
As you compare CRM platforms, their functionality, and price, you can safely assume that any change in the system will require a significant investment and transition period. To minimize the need for multiple changeovers, it is strongly suggested that your new platform has the support and flexibility needed to support your organization for years to come.