3 Important Bloomerang Implementation Questions

Category: Implementation

You recently purchased Bloomerang and are ready to get started with your new tool. While there is an urge to “dive right in,” your organization will be better served long-term by taking a quick step back to think strategically about your Bloomerang system and how it can help you achieve your goals. A hasty implementation can lead to a number of challenges, but being intentional and answering targeted questions will lay a strong foundation for a sustainable future with Bloomerang.

1. How will we use Bloomerang to improve organizational performance?

Bloomerang is an investment and the goal of any investment is to yield a high return.

The investment in Bloomerang can and should impact organizational performance in the following ways.

  • Increase revenues
  • Decrease costs
  • Increase available time for productive activities
  • Decrease time spent on unproductive activities

Whatever impact you hope to achieve, it is important to recognize that the investment in Bloomerang should yield an improvement in organizational performance. It is critical that your organization define how Bloomerang will help you achieve positive performance. Without this strategic approach, Bloomerang could become an idle tool.

In order to define how Bloomerang will improve organizational performance, you need to answer three questions.

  • What are our goals?
  • How will we achieve our goals?
  • How will we know we are achieving our goals?

These three questions guide performance improvement and Bloomerang fits into all three of these items.

  1. Bloomerang can help you define your goals. How will you leverage data to define forward looking forecasts, projections, and goals? Data collected and reported in Bloomerang can help you do that.
  2. Bloomerang can also help you achieve your goals. How will you leverage the feature and tool sets in Bloomerang to improve the effectiveness of your strategies? Each goal you set should have a strategy or set of strategies and these strategies should involve Bloomerang as a technology resource.
  3. Bloomerang can also help you prove that you are achieving your goals. What metrics and reports are required to demonstrate the performance of your strategies? Your Bloomerang database should be set up and implemented in a way to collects, manages, and analyzes data focused on goal achievement.

Define how Bloomerang will make your organization better during the implementation process. This definition can be used as a roadmap to ensure you leverage Bloomerang’s full potential. Improvement is key to organizational growth and the investment in Bloomerang should help your organization improve.

2. What data is relevant to our fundraising and engagement strategy?

The implementation process is a perfect opportunity to step back and think strategically about the value of data and what data is relevant to your organization. Defining relevant data and mapping that data into your Bloomerang system is a process called blueprinting.

Much like building a house, blueprinting is the preliminary, upfront work that your organization conducts prior to using Bloomerang. It is important to know how you intend to use Bloomerang’s standard data management features as well as how you plan to build custom fields.

Instead of purchasing Bloomerang, converting your data, going live with the software, and picking up the pieces as you use the system, take a moment to think about how you will use data, what data is useful, and why data is relevant to your strategy. Diving right in generally ends in over-built, incomprehensible software, that is focused on data collection rather than the strategic use of data. Instead of implementing the software in a “hit the ground running style,” be intentional, strategic, and organized in your approach.

Your system should only capture data, fields, and forms that are relevant to your organization. In our experience the best systems are those that capture enough data to be effective, but not too much to overwhelm and weigh down the database. Capturing all data in every format isn’t a helpful philosophy, nor does it set up your system for long-term success. In some cases, less data is better data. Less data is easier to manage, easier to analyze, and is a better return on time. Since relevant data leads to database health, the blueprint process leads to a healthier and more stable Bloomerang system for your organization.

Use the following three steps to facilitate this strategic conversation and discovery.

Step 1: Define operational reporting

Define a base set of benchmark reports. These reports should inform progress toward your goals using a defined set of metrics that demonstrate performance. These standardized reports should be run consistently and can be used as a dashboard or scorecard of performance over time.

Step 2: Uncover metrics in operational reports

Each report you run has a set of metrics or aggregations at its core. Uncover the base set of information the report is showing. These metrics should reflect the core drivers of your operations as well as the metrics that prove progress toward your goals.

Step 3: Translate metrics into fields required for data entry

Based on the metric and report structures, define the fields in Bloomerang that need to be completed during data entry. In addition, define the required data entry format. Proper formatting should be relayed to all users responsible for data entry because data entry consistency will contribute to accurate reports.

Why waste time with extra data you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t take action from? Instead, build and use a system that is relevant to your organization. During implementation, define what data is relevant and what isn’t.

3. What processes need to be implemented to get the most from Bloomerang?

An information system is consists of three elements: technology, people, and process. While this is somewhat theoretical and technical, the core concept of an information system has a practical application to your Bloomerang system. The third component, “process,” is extremely important and valuable because it defines how your organization will use Bloomerang in day-to-day activities.

Technology is the “what.”

Questions associated with this component include:

  • What software will be used?
  • What features and functions will the software have?
  • What functions of the organization will the software manage?

Bloomerang is the technology element of the information system.

People are the “who.”

Questions associated with this component include:

  • Who will use the software?
  • Who will lead the implementation?
  • Who will be responsible for administration, management, and support?

End-users and administrators are the who. This includes who will have access, how people will be trained, what skills are required to operate the system effectively, and what external support or expertise will be required to sustain the solution long-term (e.g. independent consultant support, Bloomerang technical support, or tips, tricks, and written help resources).

Process is the “how.”

Questions associated with this component include:

  • How will the organization interact with the software?
  • How will work change as a part of this implementation?
  • How will the organization transition from its current state to the future?

Process is an often forgotten element of the information systems design process. However, process plays an important role in maximizing the return on your Bloomerang investment. Bloomerang is a tool and requires human interaction in order to be useful. As a result, your organization needs to define how it will interact with Bloomerang to maximize its potential.

Defining processes may include the following:

  • Setting a schedule for standard benchmark reports
  • Managing data quality with monthly data quality reports
  • Processes for integrating other technology systems (via import, manual data entry, or the Bloomerang Zapier app).
  • Data entry procedures for end-users
  • Using custom fields or custom structures built in Bloomerang
  • Annual or semi-annual strategic reviews of the system
  • Process automation like running acknowledgments, collecting online donations, or setting up email lists
  • Triggers or workflows pertaining to certain events in the system (i.e. new donor makes donation, what next?)
  • Process for managing fields like funds, campaigns, and appeals
  • Next steps when a donation is made in tribute or memorial

In order to get the most from Bloomerang you need to know how you will use the database and what processes are required to be successful. Defining those processes will keep the organization on track and focused on the important aspects of the system.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of questions you should ask during a Bloomerang implementation, they certainly cover the core components of the process. The goal of any implementation is to produce a system in Bloomerang that is effective, moves your organization forward, and is sustainable long-term.

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