I’ve always been a fan of the explanatory power of metaphors and similes, especially sports metaphors. “Crossing the finish line,” “Being a good team member,” “Handing off the ball” all make complicated things clearer (for me at least).

CRM Countdown Clock

So picture this: you have a count-down clock, ticking down to go-live, only single digits left. Conversion of data has been tested. Training engaged the whole team. Sound the buzzer, go-live is here – you’re done!

But are you? It can be tempting to think of go-live as the finish line – but there are serious consequences that come with waving the checkered flag too soon:

  • Leadership thinks the “go-live” means “project complete”.
  • Finance thinks the fiscal spigot can be turned off.
  • Field officers think they know just how to use the system.
  • A raft of reports, business process re-engineering, and other steps remain.
  • Oh, and you need to see whether the year-end procedures that work in principle will work in reality…in 9-12 months.

Go-Live is the Middle of the Race

Many say that a conversion is a marathon and not a sprint, but to fully transition to a new system, you’ve got to think of it more like a triathlon – and reaching Go-Live is like finishing the cycling leg. The good news is you didn’t drown during #CRMSelection, and now, #CRMImplementation is mostly complete – but you still have a pesky marathon to run.

So how can you protect your team against race fatigue and ensure that your organization is equipped to cross the finish line?

Make sure your team is prepared for your CRM transition

Expectation management that starts in #CRMSelection and carries through to #CRMImplementation must be an ongoing part of #CRMAdoption. System transitions have very long tails. Even though the volume of work happens in the first 1-2 years, another few years are often necessary to really refine, leverage, and optimize the new system. This means that, as one of my most contented and expert CRM clients experienced on their journey, a 5-year plan and budget is a smart way to go.

Trusted data, converted correctly from the old system, is the starting point for solid adoption (after good planning and a reasonable budget). While this seems like a “didn’t go-live cover this?” item, many of my clients find that back-end global changes are necessary to resolve the small data issues that plague them for months after Go-Live or as a solution change their minds about data codes, locations, applications, etc. such that.

Reporting is often the epitome of post Go-Live pain point. It is hard for your colleagues to adopt the new database if they cannot get data outputs. My rule of thumb for any system transition is simply that “great reports mean great transitions”. Such reporting requires shared definitions, thoughtful calculations, mastery of new tools, and other benefits to long-term adoption.

Integrations with other systems present another likely post Go-Live adoption. Typically, things like the feed to Finance are ready to roll before conversion is complete. However, often patient feeds, student feeds, parent feeds, athletics feeds, online engagement tool feeds, etc. may not be in place at Go-Live. One client recently made the mistake of going live without a functioning feed to a high-volume gift generation foundation, only to be crippled by the extra dozen+ batches of gifts to manually handle each day.

Training is another core consideration for effective adoption. Training is not a spectator sport and should extend permanently after Go-Live. Training options should be varied (in-person, desk-side, computer-based) and be paired with accurate, update documentation. New staff onboarding should be factored in.

Could your team benefit from a coaching plan for your upcoming triathlon? We’re here to help.


Chris is President of Strategic Services at Zuri Group. His areas of expertise include fundraising strategy and systems, staff and resource management, database management, business intelligence and data reporting, database conversion projects, gift and data processing, and technology needs.

Share This