A little bit of history repeating
And on each occasion, unsurprisingly, clients have been promised “development plans”, “new investment” and “stability”. I don’t know how many think they have received that.
So does this matter?
I’m an independent consultant who really tries to present both sides of any story. And so I really want to provide a balanced analysis to show the pros and cons of such changes – but on this occasion I am struggling. I can certainly say that the key products listed above are still robust and operationally sound - which is something we should never ignore - and they have to a degree been developed (witness ACS’s NG development) and some of the staff from the various incarnations have stayed on. And of course there is nothing unique in such takeovers - it happens throughout the commercial sector and other NFP CRM systems have of course been bought and sold and continued or discontinued.
But at the moment I am wondering if such upsides are outweighed by the issues and possibilities which occur with such change: first there is continuity of investment (or not); then the continuity or otherwise of strategy/approach/technology for the clients and their ability to plan; indeed, consistency all round. And it is surely unsettling for the company’s staff (and although some staff have stayed, I understand that at least one of the buy-outs mentioned above caused considerable staff turnover); and also as mentioned above, the time under IRIS did not give Care/Integra users the best experience and certainly didn’t provide many significant new fundraising database implementations.
So I guess I should start with the hackneyed but fair phrase: “time will tell”. That said… if you were currently looking for a new CRM system for your charity then where would you look? ACS already had competitors in at least Blackbaud, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics for their top-end fundraising solution (and more for some procurements), and thankQ for their mid to high-end NFP prospects; and their membership offerings had/have very strong competition from several Microsoft Dynamics ‘templated’ options as well as other vertical sector products.
So if a charity was to ask me what I thought was the future for Care et al then I would want to wait until we hear more from and about Vista. Basically, will it be different this time? Or will the 'acquisition tree' above continue to grow?