BPA towers has been a hive of activity as always. For this week’s blog, I am going to peel back the vale and inform you about one of the behind the scenes projects that are underway to improve the experience for members.

That project is the upgrading for our CRM system. Exciting I know a real cause of celebration here at head office. Although I can already hear you thinking, What’s a CRM? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, a suite of software that covers a broad set of applications designed to help businesses manage many of their most important business processes.

So, is it a case of out with the old and in with the new? Well yes and no. Like most things, there is a right and a wrong way of doing things. The wrong way is to chuck out your old system and just buy the first system you come across. An option made more difficult by the world of membership or CRM databases being a densely populated one, with a vast range of options to choose from. So, if just going to market is not the option, then what is the right option? I would suggest that the approach that we have taken is the right one.

What is that approach? It is to treat it as a process. A process of understanding and identifying what we want/ need to change about the services we provide to our membership. How did we arrive at that? Well, it involved consulting with our membership in the form of the BPA Board. Agreeing that it was time for a change, they identified that we needed guidance and expertise and an independent consultant was brought in to assist.

Together they helped strip the process right back to the basics and challenged us to understand what we were looking for, and after some careful work and discussion we determined eight requirements:

  • Easier communication and connectivity with our members.
  • Improving website and user experience
  • Facilitating AOS internal management processes
  • Improving the CRM management process for BPA staff
  • Simplify marketing and bulk emailing
  • Streamlining event management coordination
  • Provide an online facility for AOS complaints
  • Remodelling CRM data and information

Once we established our objectives from the new system we identified the wider business changes we would need to implement to support that. As a new system will not magically fix anything unless we embrace the change and move away from redundant working practices. At this stage, we were able to go back to the Board with a high-level business case. This was approved, and a working group of Board members were then involved in reviewing the process. This early Board buy-in was invaluable as we were able to produce a full business case with a realistic budget (which unfortunately didn’t stretch to the fact-finding mission to Barbados).

With this agreement and the support of staff, we began shortlisting suppliers and systems. The number of potential suppliers and systems far outweighed the available time. So, we aimed to maximise efficiency by assessing proposals based upon set criteria, eliminating those who were not a good fit for the function we needed and those who were cost prohibitive. This process culminating in a group of 6 possible suppliers who seemed to fit our goal of a hosted, member-focused system.

Those magnificent six were each invited to present to a group of staff from every team at BPA head office. This allowed their proposals to be tested against the requirements and experiences of those who most commonly used the system. With each of the presentations the group looked for showstoppers – is there any reason for us to not work with this supplier? – as well as if they were a good fit with the organisation - did they have the right values? As well as considering the eight key requirements. Based on this we were able to cut that long list down to three who were then invited to tender.  

Those tenders were then reviewed and invited to present to the senior management as well as the cross-team users, who again discussed the positives and negatives of each presentation before concluding with some recommendations. The working group then reviewed those findings and the selection of our preferred supplier was approved.

The cross team and cross-level involvement of staff and Board throughout have resulted in a confidence that the right supplier has been chosen. But this is just the beginning of the process so watch this space and others for more of what we are going to be doing to improve our connectivity with members throughout 2018. 

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