If you utilise the services of an independent consultant you not only get a professional expert working for you, but you also benefit from truly independent and unbiased advice on a range of products and solutions. This ensures that the solutions that you deploy are 100% suited to your organisation Hart Square does not have a preferred list or panel of suppliers, and we can and do access the whole market to find a solution that is the right fit for your organisation. We do not accept payments from vendors as our independence is imperative to us.
With so many products on the market today it is not feasible to keep up with all the latest – and you should not expect to. Hart Square is unique in being 100% independent – we do not sell or promote any products, so we can provide the best impartial advice to suit your requirements and budget.
It is crucial that the right software is implemented once and is ‘right first time’. We are experienced at working with medium-to-large NFPs and we believe scalability and product life are both key to a successful, long-term implementation. Also important is support from the vendor in terms of updates and upgrades, as well as a clear product ‘roadmap’.
Ask yourself this question from a slightly different angle. “We need a CRM strategy for our organisation, so how do we ensure that we implement the right product?” Strategy is key here, not the product. If you try and ‘shoehorn’ a product into your business processes, you are in for a lot of pain. Start by identifying your actual requirements and work out what you need and the impact to your organisation that certain features will have, and start to prioritise from there.
You employ an accountant to manage your accounts, you use a mechanic to service your car. In short, you utilise experts to take on tasks that you do not have the skills for. An independent CRM consultant can not only be cost-effective, but also understands the marketplace and the challenges you face and has the required sector knowledge and experience to help you achieve your organisational goals.
With technology playing an ever-increasing role in how associations and NFPs achieve their business and operational objectives, the ability to audit technology risks – as well as opportunities – as they relate to business processes is absolutely vital.
The question to ask yourself is: “Is our existing technology infrastructure really fit for purpose?” Quite often that question only arises when some event prompts a review of your technology, such as a reduction in membership, or a new leader who wants to drive new initiatives.
Whatever the reason, the decision pertaining to technology largely usually comes down to whether you stick with what you have, improve it, or replace it. At this point a Technology Audit comes into play. It’s about taking a step back and looking at things from a wider perspective – this isn’t just a case of reviewing technology, it’s about people, processes, in fact, your entire ecosystem.
The term ‘cloud’ is really just another name for the Internet, so cloud-based software is typically software that is hosted online in a secure environment (as opposed to ‘server-based’ software that is hosted on internal servers). There are a number of reasons why cloud technology is very popular these days, including reducing infrastructure and maintenance costs.
There are so many acronyms and terms used in technology today that it is often hard to keep track. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is typically a solution that manages customers and includes many features that NFPs find useful in the one solution – which is why they are so popular in the sector. CRM can be a stand-alone software program or an integrated product that saves time and resource in multiple data entry, not to mention user skills and licence costs.
AMS (Association Management System or Solution) is the same as a CRM, but focuses on Associations (although many AMS suppliers do have other products for other sectors, so they have just named a product to suit a vertical market)
Membership Database allows memberships to be managed from one database, but again it is sometimes a fragmented solution that may not offer all features you require.
Cloud-based CRM is the same as above but ‘Cloud’ refers to a Web-based, rather than a server-based, product.
Other terms that you may come across include:
- Member Management Software
- Member Database
- Donor Management
- Online Member Management
- Charity Management System
- Trade Union Software.
In short, no matter what the acronym or terminology, you should always ensure that you have a list of features that are ‘must haves’ and that you are sensible about what is practical and affordable.
Hart Square can offer a support service that provides you with access to our team of experienced professionals. Our independent support package can provide expert support, ongoing training, strategies and more to ensure the continued success of your implementation.