Phase 2 - Prepare

2.5 Prepare your CRM system

Delivering a SIB involves robust data collection and rigorous reporting, so a SIB provider’s data management system must be fit for the job. For a SIB, a customer relationship management (CRM) system is preferable to a classic database. With a CRM system, we can track each beneficiary’s journey and communicate relevant outcomes data easily to key stakeholders, e.g. board members, commissioners and investors.  

Unless a very high volume SIB is under discussion, it should not need a bespoke system designed from scratch.  Most manage fine with an off-the-shelf CRM system, as long as it can be customised. We have heard positive feedback about CiviCRM, Salesforce and Apricot. Salesforce gives away some licences to charities.

Tips we have gathered:

  • You’ll need to make sure that the CRM system enables you to customise your own reports based on the data necessary to claim your SIB outcome payments.
  • Someone inside your organisation, e.g. the data manager, should be able to make structural tweaks, such as adding or removing data fields, relatively easily. It can be an unwelcome extra expense and waste of time to have to pay for simple changes
  • You’ll also want a bulk upload function so it’s easy to add a lot of information at the same time
  • Choose a web-based system so that it can be accessed from anywhere
  • Make sure your system has good security protection

You may also need to invest in an administrator to take care of tasks like gathering documents as outcomes evidence, scanning them, and entering them into the system.

While you’ll probably need to invest time and resources into developing the system, bear in mind that a robust system will reduce administration costs in the long run, not only for this programme, but for future programmes too. You may be able to attract a grant for the systems development work.

In adapting a system for a SIB, it can be helpful to do a ‘dry run’ if a test environment or record is available to you. Test each aspect (or representative examples) of how each metric will be collected, entered, validated and converted into a ‘claim’. System change requests tend to become more expensive and time-consuming the further through the process you go.

Next: 2.6 Prepare your team