Stephen Judd is serving as the eXtension Foundation Customer Relationship Management Fellow. This post is an update on progress on this funded Fellowship from the USDA-NIFA New Technologies for Agricultural Extension (NTAE) Cooperative Agreement.
Making a decision about using a customer relationship management (CRM) system for an Extension organization is a major undertaking. The decision can have long-range effects on your organization’s business processes, costs, and user satisfaction. Changing CRMs can also be a major project, so making a good decision upfront will help prevent additional cost and frustration later. Take time to critically analyze your existing business processes, goals, users and their needs, and the resources you have to invest in CRM. Ensure that the CRM you choose aligns with these goals, will be able to grow with your organization’s use cases, and will be be manageable with your technical resources.
- Why are we evaluating? – What organizational goals do you think CRM will help you achieve?
- Constraints – Budget, technical resources, organizational directives
- Users – Who’s going to be using the CRM? Create personas and refer to them throughout the evaluation process.
- Use cases – Prioritize and define the use cases for CRM in your organization. Think about how business processes can or should change.
- Functionality – For the CRMs you are evaluating, will their functionality adequately address your needs. If not, can the functionality be added, given your resources.
A valuable avenue we haven’t discussed is to talk with other organizations about their experience with CRM. With any CRM there are implementation and user adoption issues that are experienced during implementation and use. Understanding what others have experienced can help your organization anticipate these issues and determine if a particular CRM can help minimize, or will amplify the issues. (Note that I’m happy to discuss CRM with anyone who is interested.)
I welcome feedback and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
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