Friday, August 03, 2012

Only pay for your new database if objectives are met? How does that sound?!

No win No Fee

Cloud CRM Supplier,, recently announced an innovative approach to implementation pricing: Customers now pay half project fees upfront and if objectives are not met then they do not pay the remainder. And I’m wondering if this is a model which could be brought to CRM and fundraising database implementations in the NFP sector?

Of course there are challenges to this approach, the most obvious being, How do you set the objectives so that they are appropriate and fair to both the vendor and client? And measurable. say about this process: “SME CRM projects often fail because businesses struggle to set goals [so] Workbooks helps set objectives.” Which rings true. But set the objectives too "low", which of course the supplier should be able to meet more easily, and the client won’t get any business benefits from the implementation; too “high” objectives and the supplier won’t be able to meet them and thus it won’t work for them (or the client...)

You also have the potential issue of a client not "working hard enough" during the implementation so that objectives are not met and thus they don’t have to pay half the fees. And although that is possible, I think this might be mitigated and “self policed” by the client’s management team wanting to see results from their investment as soon as possible and not expecting there to be delays in benefits because of lack of impetus. And if there is a proven, expected ROI from the implementation (perhaps more likely in commercial CRM implementations than nonprofits) then why would a client want to delay that? This though, is a risk I suspect the supplier might have to accept.

On the other hand, a client also has the risk that a supplier might just focus their efforts on the key deliverables which would mean the objectives would be met and not "care" about other aspects of the project; but, providing those objectives are good for the client and mutually desirable to both parties, then that might be no bad thing as a starting point.

Indeed, the potential benefits of this approach are attractive. In theory, such a process could therefore mean you could get a very good scenario: because the client is of course going to want to get as much benefit as they can out of the implementation, and therefore be keen on pushing the supplier to provide “higher” objectives, but if the supplier keeps this in check so that the targets are achievable (and therefore they will get paid) then the client should also implement something which is not beyond their means. And over-expectations and under-achievements are the bain of many a CRM implementation.

It should also give clients some belief in the supplier's workload and project approach. If a supplier doesn’t match-up to expectations then of course they won’t get that part of the payment. That said, I suspect many clients would rather the supplier did meet their objectives and would rather they didn’t have to chase the supplier to do the work, even if there is a financial benefit to them if the supplier stalls.

I also wonder whether this model takes a step towards the mythical “partnership” which CRM suppliers love to talk about during sales processes, because this model would have to be a partnership for both parties to benefit appropriately.

The key to the success or otherwise of this approach is of course the ability to set the correct, achievable, beneficial and measurable objectives/goals/benefits of the CRM implementation. But that really shouldn’t be beyond the wit of smart and willing people who all ultimately want the same goal.

So, fundraising database suppliers, charity CRM solution providers, what do you think?! Have I missed any critical points? And who’s up for it…?!

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