Liz Murray
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Assemble a Blackbaud CRM Dream Team: Best Practices for IT

Wonder if your IT team is ready to take on Blackbaud CRM (BBCRM)? Consider the following best practices as high priority benchmarks when evaluating your team's readiness for implementation:

You provide a service-oriented approach to meeting stakeholder needs.

IT must understand the business/domain in order to develop innovative solutions that meet stakeholder requirements. Staff must possess the ability to identify business requirements and translate those needs into technical solutions. This requires IT to build positive and open working relationships with its internal clients. Work to understand the organizational structure to identify and consult with key decision-makers, and be perceptive at navigating the culture of both individuals and the organization. Act as a consultant to its internal clients by leveraging its knowledge and experience to provide a second opinion on potential solutions. You should be actively engaging with the BBCRM design and implementation process to lend its expertise to the process and to gain experience/understanding of BBCRM design decisions.

You adapt and respond to current technology and business trends.

With the rapid development of new technologies in modern business, such as mobile and social networks, cloud computing, and big data & advanced analytics, it is essential for IT to remain up-to-date on current and emerging trends in order to identify new opportunities for system improvements. IT must continually monitor organizational performance and the external environment to best align its services with its stakeholders and to remain competitive with other charities. IT must also build feedback loops within its information technology framework to monitor and improve systems proactively. 

You align the organization’s business, data, applications and technology.

An essential IT role is to connect the organization’s business processes, data, applications and technology. IT must be aware of the big picture (e.g. enterprise-wide) in order to steward the end-to-end architecture. Manage conflicting goals across the organization and balance the short-term vs. the long-term vision, and as new needs arise, provide counsel and help to integrate new systems into the larger network. For BBCRM implementations, IT plays a key role in designing and executing solutions to enable data to flow across disparate systems or to a data warehouse.   

You develop and maintain transparent and well-documented policies.

IT must define and document its principles, policies, and frameworks in support of achieving its overall IT vision to preserve institutional knowledge and to communicate standardized practices across the organization. Staff need practical well-documented guidance for day-to-day management. You should balance its governance and management activities to provide staff with a standardized vision for technology and an actionable plan to achieve specific organizational goals.

You possess diverse technical knowledge and expertise.

The BBCRM platform requires that IT staff possess a specific set of technical skills and expertise to develop the application, write reports, and manage the data warehouse. Staff should have a strong understanding (or a willingness to learn) the transactional database and the data warehouse schemas, as well as the BBCRM Software Developers Kit. Staff need to read, author and edit XML documents. For reporting, IT should have extensive Microsoft SQL knowledge, including advanced ability to write SQL and T-SQL scripts, stored procedures and functions. Staff should ideally have experience with Microsoft BI software and be fluent in at least one .NET language. Additionally, IT should be able to write and manage ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) scripts for the data warehouse.

Ensuring that you have the right players on your IT team will not only set you up for a win with your implementation, it will also enable your IT team and your organization to adapt and grow together with BBCRM in the long-term.

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