It's a sad fact that so many fundraising/CRM database implementations fail or are not nearly as successful as we hoped. And although there are various potential reasons for this which are central to many of my blog posts, we can also look at this problem in another way - if you have experienced a failed project at your organisation in the past, then ask yourself this: If we are about to launch a brand new CRM procurement and implementation project, what makes us think it will be different this time?
If this strikes a chord with you and you want to ask this question internally at your organisation, then here are some questions you could consider and try to address. Hopefully, they will (at least start to) give you the ability to decide whether or not you have learned from previous projects and tell you a lot about yourselves before you embark on another big project.
- What were the reasons for failure on the last project? (Did we even hold a Lessons Learned meeting?)
- Did we even define success criteria? Were they measurable, achievable, realistic?
- Do we have a proper business case? Has it been ratified by more than just a couple of people?
- Are we asking the same people to run and be involved with the new project? If so, why do we feel they can now do it? Do they have that much better experience now? Do they know all the pit-falls they could encounter this time? Have we sent them on any sort of training or learning programme since?
- Have we got new people involved? Are they any better?! Do we need more people?
- Are our senior managers fully engaged?
- Do we understand what our risk is? Do we know how to mitigate or accept risk?
- How do we really know we have got an appropriate budget this time around?
- How do we really know our planned timescale is possible or realistic? Could it even be too slack?
- Do we have a project manager? What sort of experience do they have?
- Do we have project governance? Do we understand project governance?
- Even if we do feel we have learned lessons, how will we monitor the next project to make sure it stays a success?
- Was our actual data an issue? Do we have new faith in that now?
- How can we be sure that the next salesperson we meet doesn't spin us the same lines as last time?
Maybe I can use a famous Albert Einstein quote to sum-up: "The thinking it took to get us into this mess is not the same thinking that is going to get us out of it."