Database Implementation What It Means And Why It’s Important
Fundraising Published Date, 2023

Database Implementation: What It Means And Why It’s Important

Created By: Janine Hansen
August 10, 2023

Database implementation is the selection, design, integration, and rollout of a CRM. It sounds intimidating at first, but is extremely powerful, and yes, exciting! The implementation process is a comprehensive project that involves the migration of fundraising data, once cleaned and structured, into a CRM that is customized and set up for an organization’s fundraising needs. This includes the enactment of processes and procedures for operating the system, as well as the training and resources needed for users.

Why might your organization need database implementation? Perhaps your organization doesn’t currently have an advanced and scalable CRM or there is no CRM in place altogether.

Implementation is a very tedious and time-consuming task and is recommended to be done with a CRM professional to ensure it goes off without a hitch. In fact, database implementation can take on average anywhere between 2-6 months, depending on the CRM and data needs.

What steps does an organization need to take to prepare for database implementation?

1. Explore a partnership for support.

It is recommended that organizations seek support when going through an implementation phase. It is a very complex process and partnering with someone (or a team of people) for expertise and guidance throughout the process makes it much more enjoyable, seamless, and successful.

2. Ensure team collaboration.

The implementation process should be a group effort with everyone involved in the organization. It is important to hear perspectives from staff and stakeholders on how the database will be used and managed, what data will be recorded (and why), and what processes they all would like to see streamlined within the organization. This ensures that the systems being put into place are going to be beneficial and utilized to advance the organization’s mission.

3. Prepare your data.

The most important part of database implementation is data preparation. Every development team’s dream is clean, tidy data, and this is the time to make it happen. Once all data is exported from the existing database, it is important to map the new CRM’s fields, or categories, with the old ones used previously. This will make for easy importing. Next comes the fun part: data clean-up. Simple things like cleaning up states, salutations, address formatting, etc. will make the biggest difference when it comes time for implementation. Having a new CRM is a big change, and starting off with clean data eliminates one more common stressor for development staff.

4. Execute a testing phase.

It is always a good idea to test out your data within the CRM before migrating everything over. Take a small sample set and use it to determine whether your data is accurately prepped and ready to be imported over to your new CRM. Check to make sure all the fields have been filled in correctly and run some reports to make sure the data is pulling where it needs to be. If for some reason something is not right, you can delete the few records that you imported and start over.

5. Consider integrations to streamline processes.

Once your data has moved into its new home, you can now start adding in any integrations that may be of interest or benefit to your organization, such as email integrations, payment processors, volunteer platforms, etc. Consolidating all your crucial platforms into your CRM will help you gain a unified view of your operations and reduce data sources. This will enhance transparency, save time, and empower your team to make more informed decisions based on a reliable source of information.

6. Train your staff.

Having a basic understanding of the database and how it works is crucial for everyone at your organization. While certain roles like database managers require a more in-depth understanding of the CRM, all staff members should undergo some form of training once the new database is implemented to ensure proper and effective usage of the platform.

With strategic fundraising comes the need for effective database systems. A clean, efficient, and optimized CRM from the start of implementation is imperative for your development team.

Looking for the right partner to support the implementation and management of your CRM? Get in touch with Orr Group to learn more about how we can help you harness your data to grow revenue and push your fundraising strategy forward.

Janine Hansen is an Associate Director at Orr Group. She brings nearly ten years of experience working in development with a focus on data management and integrity to support our partners in coordinating CRM administration and recommendations.

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