Don't overlook the progress made when moving to a new system

Recently I happened to run into a past client of mine at an association meeting. I had helped them select a new donor management system, and it had been a few months since they had gone live, so I asked them how things were going.

After discussing some of the bumps in the road, and the challenges they were still facing with the system, my client said “But you know what? Even with all of these challenges, we’re in a much better place than we were.”

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that. In my experience, as an organization moves to a new system, all of the focus remains on what is wrong with the new system, forgetting all the other problems that had been addressed along the way.

Here’s just a sampling of the benefits this past client was seeing with a new system:

  • All the data is centralized and accessible to all staff. Previously, they were operating out of multiple databases (which meant duplicate data entry and duplicate records), and several of these databases were only accessible by certain staff.
  • Their website is integrated to their database, which means all donations and event registrations are coming straight into the database without staff intervention. Previously donations had to be entered manually (or not at all) and event registration was managed in a completely separate system.
  • They can use their database for email marketing. Previously the email marketing was separate from all other systems, which again meant lots of manual work for staff, redundant data, and errors.

This is just a list of three benefits. There are many others. The overarching point is that often these benefits are overlooked or forgotten in the rush of fixing or addressing other issues with the new system. And so very quickly staff begin to complain that the new system doesn’t work as well as the old system, which in most cases, is simply not true.

So beware falling into the trap of pining for the old days and talking about how “our old system used to.” Yes, of course, address those things that aren’t working the way they should in your new system. But be sure to balance that against the greater benefit the system is bringing to your processes and your organization.


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