Automate to Optimize Operations

By Jason Robbins, Vice President, Creative ROI Solutions

While we believe that there are always learning opportunities in manually processing file outputs and uploads, once you do that task a few times, we think you may have better things to do, like focusing on strategy and fundraising. For the modern CRM manager and operations staff member, automation is the key to operational efficiency.

That sounds easy enough, but where should you begin?

1. Audit all of your ongoing file selections, regular output, and repetitive tasks across the organization.

  1. Clearly articulate the goal for each process and procedure.
  2. Define the constituent audience that is affected by each of those procedures.
  3. Determine the staff within your organization that are a part of the process and estimate the amount of time it takes cumulatively to complete a task.

This exercise will help your organization decide which processes are the most time-consuming and where an automated process will yield the greatest efficiencies.  Then you (or in collaboration with your data management provider) can begin to program and schedule the task to be automated.

The Basics

Here are some common automations that most organizations should have in place. 

  • Acknowledgements and New Donor Welcome selection and file delivery.
  • Uploads from caging and telemarketing vendors.
  • Data extracts to various append vendors including Coops, demographic append companies.
  • Membership or giving level assignments.
  • Daily pledge processing of credit card and EFT sustainers including account updater and recycling.
  • Periodic de-duplication and data hygiene procedures.

The Next Step in Operational Automation 

While many of those automated procedures are in place for most organizations, some organizations are truly leveraging their technology platforms to manage complex processes to maximize operational efficiencies and fuel their marketing programs across the constituent lifecycle.

  • Automated Membership Renewal– As long as the audience selection logic doesn’t change, selection and output for membership renewal series can be automated and scheduled to deliver data to one or more vendor partners depending on contact preferences (mail, phone, email).
  • Automated Prospect Qualification and Assignment – Periodic automated sweeps can pull new unscored records that meet an organization-defined giving patterns on a regular basis for demographic and wealth appends.  Then scheduled processes can identify and assign high-capacity constituents to a prospect researcher or even to a major giving officer based on geography and  portfolio capacity.
  • Attribution – Attribution can take many forms.  While the algorithms defining attribution will be organization specific, automated scripts can assign white mail to specific source codes based on delivery windows or estimate channel attribution for departmental budgeting purposes.
  • Inferred Interests – Algorithms can regularly evaluate multiple data points (e.g., source response or non-response, volunteer or event activities, acceleration of giving, etc.) and then set values on a constituent account such as inferred communication preferences or constituent engagement level.

Set it, but don’t forget it

While your CRM is now humming on autopilot, and you have become a more efficient organization, you must review these processes on a periodic basis.

Every automation that is operating within your CRM needs to be fully documented. You should evaluate each of these processes to make sure that they are working to achieve their stated goal and to determine if they can be further streamlined to operate at peak efficiency.  Make sure you understand how your automations interoperate to ensure that they are working in harmony with other automated procedures you have scheduled in your CRM.