Graeme Wrigglesworth, Trustee at Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society, talks us through their journey to adopting a CRM
In 2012 Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society decided to move from its legacy members database, which was stored on an old computer in the corner of an office, to a more modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. This was partly to protect the data already held, and partly to enable easier edits and analysis for the membership team. Here, Trustee Graeme Wrigglesworth explains their process for adopting the new solution.
The initial project was to investigate different options for holding our data. An investigation was held into all of the possible providers at the time. We had certain key requirements:
This initial phase took about 2 years from start to finish. One of the biggest issues was that the existing membership lists were not in a single format, so the data had to be manually keyed and/or checked.
Several workshops were held and a parade of the vendors arranged. Based on this the best vendor at the time was selected. We then had to investigate and resolve the other issues - hosting the server, and getting the best value we could find.
This resulted in the selection of the leading CRM vendor for charities at the time; several members of the project team had used this supplier in the past as well so were familiar with its interface and capabilities.
After Phase 1 was completed we started to utilise functionality we had not imagined. From sending reminders via email, through to being able to email people local to any railway our locomotives were visiting. This also meant that we were able to investigate bulk emailing options, saving time and becoming more efficient.
Above image: Photo by Oscar Sutton on Unsplash
Now, a few years later, we are revisiting the original solution. Some of the decisions made at the time (to own the hardware, to use a separate backup system) have with time looked like poor decisions based on how technology has evolved. Again a shortlist of the key requirements has been made:
Part of this project will be getting a members-only area on the website; we have also had to revisit all of the data due to GDPR and check that we had the permissions set correctly to allow us to contact people. We have realised that we need to move forwards with an even better, more integrated solution, and part of the reason for this is that the whole charity has moved forward and is using digital technology better (and we have upgraded the website to an off the shelf solution enabling us to explore more options). The charity has moved on since the original project with everyone becoming much more IT literate, and now all of the Trustees have smartphones and want to know what can be done to work with the phone too.