Consultant Chronicles: Fiona Buttars on Project Managing a CRM Implementation

Kay Rollinson

Operations Administrator

Kay Rollinson promotes JCA and JCA Arts Marketing by coordinating, executing, and evaluating all marketing activities.
August 31, 2022

What analogy would you use to describe a CRM implementation? That’s easy for JCA’s Manager of Professional Services Fiona Buttars—a cross-country move—something she recently completed.

“Both projects involve lots of planning, coordination of moving pieces, working with multiple groups of people, contingency plans, and more. There’s a lot of similarities.”

JCA Consultants Kate Mead, Fiona Buttars, and Eileen Pronobis.

Fiona joined JCA in 2016 after completing a CRM implementation project for the nonprofit arts organization she was working for. She spent much of her career—17 years in fact—with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). She worked as a customer service representative, Assistant Manager and Manager of the Customer Service Team, and eventually, as Director of Database Operations. While in this role, the TSO, along with their venue partners Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, completed a needs assessment and decided to move to a new CRM system.

The TSO hired JCA as a third-party company for their needs assessment and system selection. Given the complexity of an implementation project, Fiona’s role with the TSO shifted and at least 50% of her time was spent on the implementation. After this experience, Fiona found herself so drawn to project management that she pursued a certificate program.

“It was then that I decided I wanted to manage projects full-time, and that kind of opportunity wasn’t available at the TSO. I really enjoyed working with JCA on the project and started looking into openings.”

And the rest is history. Since then, Fiona has become a PMP, a project management professional. This is a certification program through the Project Management Institute that is recognized worldwide. The PMP certification includes requirements such as many months of experience leading projects, numerous hours of training, and an exam followed by certification maintenance requirements in years that follow. This has furthered Fiona’s ability to work through all types of projects, but especially implementation projects.

“Particularly for implementation projects, they need the most intensive project planning. I usually need to plan the planning. The project planning is the most critical because it sets the project up for success, which is why JCA has created an internal project management center where we have outlined methodologies, templates, different components, and more, to help our team for each project. Our experience and knowledge with numerous PMPs on staff and our project management center for our team means that there is a standard approach. If you work with us, you know that we have the experience, knowledge level, and education to tailor a plan specific to your organization and project that will lead to success.”

Fiona’s extensive experience, first as a nonprofit employee and now as a consultant working with nonprofit clients, has given her valuable insight, including what she considers to be one of the most important parts of a project.

“Expectations and communication. You need to communicate around expectations, and these may differ depending on the stakeholder level—an executive as opposed to an end user, for example.”

Through the numerous implementation projects Fiona has completed, she has had to navigate these tough waters. Not only with members of the organization, but any other parties involved—vendors, third-party organizations, and more. In the end, Fiona feels the same pride as her clients when a CRM implementation is complete.

“I’m not a marathon runner, but I have to imagine completing a marathon is the closest feeling to finishing a CRM implementation. It’s such a huge accomplishment and we share in the joy with our clients.”

Switching to a new CRM?

A CRM implementation can be overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be. With our team of experienced, expert consultants—like Fiona—you can feel confident in having a trusted partner every step of the way.

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