Contact Management and Reporting - CRM

"Hi,we are a national organisation with a number of offices throughout the country.We need an online reporting tool, preferably webbased to capture our day to day contacts, activtitis (we deliver training,respite etc) and capable of providing management reports - can you recommend or provide reference to appropiate tools/software that would provide this?"

Although I do not know your current ICT set-up I guess you do not have a central information system or CRM.

To manage Contacts, Activities, Training and Respite etc in one central place you need a class of software called CRM - Constituient Relationship Management.  The commercial world have been using this technology for 15 years but has low uptake by Irish Nonprofit organisaiton.  Nevertheless, relationship management is core to our work processes and values and this class of product is ideal for dealing with the standard range of  Nonprofit activities like contacts, membership, events [agm], training, resource, case and project management.

Key to CRM is having one central repository of information and relating all activities to contacts [or Organisations].  This includes recording and relating: phone calls, emails, documents, meetings, payments, cases etc to the contact.  No more separate  and disconnected Inboxes, My Documents, My phone book and My many Spreadsheets to manage information.

The big gain from having information in one repository is reporting.  CRM have powerful reporting engines with graphics and dashboards to summarise the relevant data.  CRMs are essential for, and central to, Management Informations Systems.

I recommend three products which are free or donated to charities: CRM, CiviCRM , Microsoft Dynamics CRM .  The first two are hosted online and Microsoft product is hosted inhouse on your server.

Salesforce is the one I would first consider because it is an outstanding rich featured product, is donated free [10 enterprise licenses] and is already online and available to you today.  For an organisation with multiple locations this offers both secure access control to information and great performance.  We recently moved from SugarCRM to Salesforce CRM for our Administration and Management. 

You can take a 30 day trail of at their website.  Click the FOUNDATION tab, register for the trial and I recommend using the Standard, rather than the Nonprofit, template. You will be contacted by Sara Brophy of Salesforce Foundation, Sandyford, who will explain the full donation.  Users of this produce include Volunteer Centres Ireland [80 licenses], Alzheimers Soceity and Peter Bradley Foundation [50 licenses], Carmichael Centre [10 liceneses].

We also use CiviCRM for our ENCLUDEIt - technology donations programme .  If you register on the site your details are stored in CiviCRM.  When you request donations you use the CiviShop to do the online selection of products.  Use use CiviCRM to manage the eligibility process and log donations. CiviCRM needs to be hosted with your website on a Joomla or Drupal CMS [content management system]. 

Thirdly, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a relatively new addition to the MS dynamics family.  It is donated via ENCLUDEit but requires to be hosted on your own server with MS SQL server as the database.  This would only be available on your intranet.

All CRM systems  need to be configured to meet your needs.  This can take 3-10 days depending on the complexity of your requirements.  It is amazing what can be done in a week [5 days] to turn around an organisaiton.  The challenge is to win adoption from the staff and ensure everyone is adequately trained to use the system.

Best of luck with the project,

Eamon Stack