Ambit Group: Insight into the implementation of an NPO platform solution

Insight into the implementation of an NPO platform solution

Project "Ojanda" - this is the name Helvetas Switzerland gave to its pioneering NPO project to replace its existing sector software and implement efficient marketing automation. In summer 2022 - after two intensive project years - the teams on both sides were able to celebrate the successful go-live together. This is far from a matter of course, because NPOs face major, sector-specific challenges in a mammoth project like this.

With the new CRM solution, Helvetas is now able to map the entire process from lead to donation (campaign planning, donation processing through various channels and accounting, thanking donations, other follow-up processes). Individual fundraising was also included by implementing support processes for major donors, institutions and legacies. Millions of data records have been migrated from the previous core system and now offer a 360° view of the donor/benefactor in a single system.

In an interview with Thomas Lewandowski (Business Unit Lead NPO), Ursina Thöni (Head of Data & Analytics, Helvetas Switzerland) talks about the pitfalls in the preparation of such a CRM project, about key moments and how she experienced the first months after the go-live.

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Interview with Ursina Thöni, Head of Data & Analytics, HELVETAS (german)

An excerpt from the conversation

What were the biggest challenges, or key points, in this project?

"Basically, it is due to the NPO business that we cannot reduce the scope at our convenience. Normally, in a project like this, you work in digestible bites, step-by-step. That was not possible here - from the call for donations to the receipt of donations, through very different channels, to the processing of donations, the booking of donations and the acknowledgement of donations - this is an end-to-end process. This has to be completely implemented at Go-live, which means you have various interfaces that have to be introduced at the same time. So the project gets very big very quickly. You need enough resources, including project management, project team and product specialists. Another big issue is the data migration with millions of data records, which is a big challenge."

What do you recommend in the preparation of such a CRM project? 

"Besides the already mentioned project management, which you cannot do alongside, and the technically affine team, management attention is very important! You have to go to the management board and receive understanding and resources in order to have the project team's support. When the project is running, you already have to think about change. How can I get my key users and users on board? How can I create an enthusiasm for the project? How should I reduce the fear about the project? We did a lot of work on that and also communicated extensively - were active in the teams, did change management, tried to go into storytelling - the journey into the new galaxy, the rocket that is being built - wrote newsletters to bring people along."

Further Information / Links

Are you interested in this topic? I would be pleased to answer any queries you have.

Thomas Lewandowski, Business Unit Lead NPO & Education

+49 151 22 94 88 63