By: Sandra Jensen, Founder and President, KELL Partners

In a KELL Labs blog post earlier this year, I compared a CRM migration to a major home renovation project – the kind where you voluntarily sign up for a few months of noise, dust, and living off nothing but microwaved frozen dinners while you try to think happy thoughts about the incredible gourmet meals you’ll be able to cook once your shiny new chef’s kitchen is finished.

Today I’m going to talk a little about the different things you can do, both before and during the migration, in order to make sure your roundCause implementation is successful – and once more, the home improvement comparison will be helpful.

1. Clearly define your “big picture” objective.

Free-Blueprints-For-Houses This is incredibly important, and it’s something that is neglected far too often. Most of us would not be comfortable demolishing and replacing our entire kitchen just because “we want modern appliances.” Instead, we think about the specific ways those shiny new appliances are different, and about how those differences will be actually be helpful to us. Then we choose which specific models we want, and then we decide where to place them.

Similarly, “our current system is old and we want to be in the cloud” is, in and of itself, a terrible reason for migrating to a cloud-based CRM solution, unless you also think about how being “in the cloud” will benefit you. Take the time to think about exactly how the move to roundCause will benefit your organization, your staff, and your constituents. Then you can tailor both the final system and the implementation project in such a way that the important things (to you!) are prioritized.

To do this, simply write down and prioritize your objectives and then have all stakeholders review and agree (easier said than done) before you start. This will ensure you’re on the same page internally about your priorities.

2. Look closely at your current

Every organization has certain processes that it follows – rules and procedures that define things like how donor gifts are acknowledged, and how event registration is handled, and how almost every other aspect of the organization operates. Obviously you want your new solution to accommodate those processes, right? Well, sort of. Maybe. But only sometimes.

You have probably heard the saying that “if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Once you have a hammer, and you’ve become and expert with that hammer, you will naturally develop processes that involve lots of hammering. And then, when you’re ready for a “technology upgrade,” your natural inclination will be to look for a faster way to hammer down all those nails — when maybe you should be asking whether you really still need them at all.

With roundCause, you will gain new capabilities and new options that you have not had before. So as you begin to plan the implementation, look closely at your current processes and determine which of them could be changed in order to take full advantage of those new capabilities.

No need to be daunted by this; you don’t need to create a fancy graphic but you should write down the key processes step-by-step as they exist today. Begin a new document, then list each step for all key processes that are related to the top priorities.

3.Get your whole team on board.TRA2622

Unlike a home kitchen renovation, a CRM migration is most likely going to affect a whole team of people. It’s more like you are replacing the kitchen of a busy restaurant, and need to accommodate multiple chefs, sous-chefs, line cooks, and servers – each with their own requirements and preferences. And you know what it’s like when you’re on a team (be it work, school, athletics, arts, etc.) and there’s a few people on the team who don’t want to participate? The whole project suffers from a lack of teamwork and poor attitude!

Recognize up front that not everyone on the team will initially share your enthusiasm for the new system. Some people will really, really like the old system, perhaps out of nothing so much as nostalgia. Others might recognize that roundCause is a better solution, but still be put off by the perceived inconvenience of going through a migration. And others might have specific concerns about how their particular tasks can be accomplished in the new system.

To alleviate all these types of issues, make a plan in advance for who will be interacting with roundCause, and in what capacity, and start letting them in on the plan. Keep in mind that this includes everyone who will have impact on the project – even (especially!) those at the executive and technological levels. The more time people have to prepare for change, the better and more successfully they will accept it.

You should also establish 3-5 measurable goals. What improvements will implementing roundCause make for the organization? If you determine these now, measure your current progress and compare each goal during and after the implementation you’ll be able to remain focused on the priorities.

It’s true — Whether it’s your kitchen, the whole house, or your organization’s CRM system, change is scary. It can also be complicated, messy, and (to put it mildly) inconvenient for yourself and everyone around you. The good news is that, unlike a kitchen remodel, you don’t have to actually demolish your entire old CRM system before start implementing the new one. But, even so, as you begin to upgrade from your old solution to roundCause, there will most likely be a period of time where you won’t have full use of either the old or the new system. Some extra work will have to be done. Perhaps some donations will need to be entered into both systems. Maybe your donor experience will be less than ideal for a short while. The details will, of course, vary greatly depending on the scope and structure of your particular project.

To maintain sanity and reduce stress during this process, keep your “eyes on the prize” at all times. Think about the work you did in advance to be sure things would go smoothly. And start looking for new recipes that will really make good use of all the fancy gadgets in your shiny new kitchen.

KELL Partners is an Austin-based consulting firm that is focused on helping nonprofits implement and optimize their use of™. KELL has worked with more than 650 nonprofits since they started in 2009. Services offered by KELL include technical consulting, support, training, custom development and data manipulation. For more information, visit



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