Overcome Your CRM Implementation Fears

Liz Murray

Director of Professional Services

Liz works closely with clients to align their people, processes, and information systems to maximize fundraising and engagement activities.
March 02, 2020

Implementing a new CRM solution, like many big life changes, can be both exciting and scary. By understanding your CRM implementation fears, you can flip the script on your uncertainties to make your implementation project a success. In the blog below, we’ll discuss three common CRM implementation fears, and how you can overcome them.


A CRM implementation could take up to two years depending on the complexity and scale of your organization. A lot can happen during the course of the project that can impact the schedule and scope, such as staff turnover/delays in hiring, new/evolving business plans, or unexpected data/design complexities.

Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate the project schedule and scope! Change is inevitable and should be monitored on an ongoing basis as part of the project plan. By being realistic and open-minded about what you are able to achieve within the given timeframe with your current resources against the current constraints, you can determine whether adjusting the project scope or schedule is appropriate, and build an effective case for support to present for leadership to approve.

For example, if your go-live date is non-negotiable and you are concerned that there isn’t enough time to complete everything as expected, consider whether there are items in the scope that could be moved to a second project phase after go-live. This will allow you to focus on completing the top priorities on schedule, while also providing more time to get everything completed.

Plan for delays 
I worked on a recent CRM implementation where the go-live date was strategically pushed out by six months. This allowed the organization the time required to ensure all features included in their minimally viable product list was ready for launch at go-live. By monitoring and evaluating the project schedule and scope on a regular basis, you can react and make change requests as needed to ensure your implementation stays on track and meets stakeholders’ expectations.


During a CRM implementation, Subject Matter Experts are simultaneously learning a new system and designing new functional processes. It can take time to find the right solution that fully meets the organization’s business needs and is both efficient and effective.

Manage expectations
Since there is finite time available to finalize the design for all teams within a project, it is important to remember that design is iterative and that sometimes incremental change is the best approach. Compare how the task was accomplished in the old system with the new process to determine whether process improvement has been achieved. While there may be more that can be done to completely optimize the job, it is important to balance design time across all functions within the project.

Plan for cleanup
For conversion, the same advice applies—keep the full scope of work in perspective to prevent yourself from spending too much time in one area. Some clean-up may need to be done after go-live and that is okay as long as you plan for it. While you absolutely want to put forth a solid product that supports smooth user adoption at go-live, you can plan phases of work and a solution roadmap to help manage scope and expectations throughout the course of the implementation. People have different priorities based on their roles so tradeoffs are inevitable. Solid communication and strong leadership is essential to prioritizing work and managing expectations. Your CRM implementation should be seen as the beginning of the journey, rather than the final destination.


A new CRM is a big change for an organization. A CRM implementation project requires stakeholders at all levels to effectively collaborate in designing a new fundraising solution that meets the organization’s needs. This means that there are a lot of critical discussions amongst various stakeholders that need to take place in order to make your project a success.

Designate space for discussion
Don’t fear the discourse! It is a natural part of the process and can be a positive indicator of staff engagement if the exchange is healthy. People need to feel comfortable and respected in order to effectively communicate requirements and to manage conflict. For example, one team may be focused on the technical requirements while another is concerned with the user experience. Trade-offs will need to be negotiated and resolved.

Establish a project code of conduct
Establishing a project code of conduct can be helpful in framing discussions and can be used as a coaching tool to help keep conversations constructive. If people are always in agreement, it may be a sign that people are unengaged or potentially uncomfortable sharing ideas with the group. It is important to monitor project discourse to ensure that collaborative decisions are being made on behalf of the organization and that all voices are represented.

Fear is a natural part of change. Rest easy in knowing how to overcome your CRM implementation fears and translate them into project success.

Considering a CRM change?
We’re here to help. Whether you are considering a system change, are in the middle of an implementation, or are post-go-live, JCA consultants have the technology and industry expertise to guide you to success. Contact us to learn more.