Ready to Start eTapestry Implementation? Answer Three Questions
You recently invested in eTapestry® by Blackbaud® as your organization’s fundraising, donor management, and communications system. While there is an urge to “dive in,” your organization will be better served long term by taking a quick step back to think strategically about eTapestry, how it relates to your organization, and how you will use eTapestry to achieve your goals. A well-planned eTapestry implementation can maximize your investment and lay a strong foundation for a sustainable future with eTapestry.
1. How will eTapestry improve our organization?
eTapestry is an investment and the goal of any investment is to yield a high return.
The investment in eTapestry 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
- Make your organization “smarter” (which can lead to the four items above)
Whatever value you hope to gain from eTapestry, it is critical that your organization define how you will achieve higher performance with eTapestry rather than without it.
- What are our goals? eTapestry can help you define your goals. How will you leverage data to define forward-looking forecasts, projections, and objectives? How will eTapestry assist your strategic planning and goal-setting processes?
- How will we achieve our goals? eTapestry can also help you achieve your goals. How will you use eTapestry’s features and functions to improve organizational performance? Based on the goals you set, each goal should have a strategy or set of strategies and these strategies should include eTapestry as a technological resource.
- How will we know we are achieving our goals? Data and information from eTapestry can be used to prove that you are achieving your goals. What reports, metrics, and measurements are required to prove organizational performance? Your eTapestry database should be set up to collect, manage, and analyze data focused on achieving your goals.
Start the implementation process by defining how eTapestry will make your organization better. Use this definition as a roadmap of your eTapestry implementation, so you “get the most” from your eTapestry system.
2. What data do we need for our fundraising, marketing, and communications 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.
Data is the backbone of reports. Reports add value to your strategic management process and allow you to benchmark performance.
Your system should only capture data that is relevant (and most important). In our experience the best eTapestry systems are those that capture enough data to be effective, but not too much data to overwhelm and weigh down the database.
Tracking every piece of data possible, regardless of its value to your organization, isn’t helpful to the sustainability of your eTapestry database. In many cases, less data is better data. Less data is easier to manage, easier to analyze, and is a better return on time (i.e. more effective use of time).
Use these three steps to define the data you need to manage your fundraising, marketing, and communication activities.
1. Outline management and benchmark reports
Define a base set of benchmark reports. These reports should inform progress toward your goals with 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.
2. Define metrics in management and benchmark reports
Each report you run has a set of metrics 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.
3. Translate metrics into data entry fields
Based on the metric and report structures of Steps 1 and 2, define the fields you’ll need to produce those reports and metrics. The fields you outline are requirements for data entry because they relate to your desired reports.
Why waste time with extra data you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t take action from? Instead, build an eTapestry database that is relevant to your organization. During implementation, define the data that is relevant and the data that isn’t.
3. What processes do we need to maximize our investment in eTapestry?
Your eTapestry software is an information system and is comprised of three elements: technology, people, and process. “Process” is the third component of an information system and is critical to your implementation. Process is important because it defines how you will interact with eTapestry in day-to-day activities.
Process is the “how.”
Questions associated with this component include:
- How will your organization interact with the software?
- How will work change as a part of this implementation?
- How will your organization transition from its current systems to eTapestry?
Clearly defined processes and procedures relating to your use of eTapestry can improve data quality, data health, the organization of your system, and the long-term sustainability of your system.
Defining processes may include the following:
- Setting a schedule for standard benchmark reports.
- Managing data quality with monthly data quality reviews.
- Processes for integrating other technology systems (via import, manual data entry, or the API).
- Data entry procedures for end users.
- Using custom fields for data entry and data capture.
- 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 actions in the system (e.g. new donor makes donation, what next?).
- Process for managing fields like funds, campaigns, and approaches.
- Next steps when a donation is made in tribute or memory of someone.
In order to “get the most” from eTapestry you need to know how you will interface with the database.
Getting started with eTapestry implementation
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of questions you should ask during your eTapestry implementation, they certainly cover the core components of the process. The goal of any implementation process is to produce a system in eTapestry that is effective, moves your organization forward, and is sustainable long term. Think through these three questions and you will be on your way to using eTapestry both intentionally and effectively.
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