Magnetism have been LIFE’s CRM technology partner since 2010. Initially engaged to replace a cumbersome Microsoft Access-based system the church had relied on for some years, Magnetism built the first incarnation of the LIFE Relationship Management (LRM) system in Dynamics CRM 4, followed by an interim upgrade of the system to Dynamics CRM 2011 in mid-2011.
The initial LRM system served its purpose in replacing the old contact database and equipping the church with a membership management system, thus successfully reducing the administrative tasks associated with their many community initiatives. However, limited capacity for user research pre-launch and little training meant the system was perceived as somewhat difficult to use, and as result, uptake of LRM in the organisation was suffering.
Furthermore, by 2013, the church had re-evaluate its business plan to 2020, acknowledging that the LRM would be an imperative tool in helping LIFE to achieve its long-term goals. As it was, the system was not being used to its full potential and an overhaul would be required, serving as the technology platform to facilitate future growth. LIFE needed a more flexible system which would help better connect its members with access to mission-critical information, improving staff management and engagement.
LIFE church’s thinking about relationship management had developed considerably and many of the improved features in Dynamics CRM 2013 fit the bill of their new requirements perfectly. The system and its functionality were designed by Magnetism using the church's business plan as a blueprint ensuring it closely matched the organisation's strategic objectives improving buy-in from LIFE's leaders. A thorough analysis phase in the early stages of the project included consultation with staff throughout the organisation to ensure user requirements were being met and expectations managed.
Developing the new LRM with an agile approach also meant that LIFE’s technical team were thoroughly involved in the process, leaving them equipped with a good understanding of the system such that they can now provide ongoing support to the organisation. The rebuilt design also includes the introduction of easily configurable dashboards which are able to be personalised for each user, further encouraging great engagement from staff.
One of the key objectives the new LRM system needed to achieve was bringing LIFE staff and volunteers closer to the church’s 7,500 members. Through the creation of a ‘My LIFE’ portal, church members using the new system are now able to review and update their personal information. This database can then be accessed by church volunteers, who provide crucial support services, to search for accurate member details and track and record their contact. Adding further value to the portal is the fact it has been built as a mobile solution on top of the on-premises CRM. Now, staff simply access the web-portal on their preferred device while a purpose-built API does all the work for them in the background, giving them the flexibility to offer a greater level of service to their members, anytime, anywhere.
With the addition of a device-enabled check-in portal to the new LRM framework, any leader or volunteer with a smartphone can manage registrations at events, such as children’s programmes and youth groups. This has allowed the church to eradicate the cost and maintenance associated with the previous time consuming, hardware-based system. An essential requirement of the new LRM build was to create a technology solution that would underpin and help actualise LIFE’s new vision to 2020. A new finance portal was created which provides a purpose-built user interface for the finance team to better manage contributions. They can now enter credit-card transactions, set up recurring billing and import bank statements for reconciliation with smart-matching.
The donation experience has also been overhauled and with LRM 2013 as its engine, an online giving page on the LIFE website now allows members to donate via credit-card. Even better, they can now designate where their donations go, across a range of causes and programmes, providing them with a closer connection to their gifting.
The LRM 2013 project has succeeded in assisting the church to build stronger relationships with its members. With a 7,500 strong congregation, personalised support was neither possible nor measurable with their previous system. With the new LRM system in place, metrics are available on church leaders’ dashboards which enable them to see just how well they know their members, and helps them track their progress towards their goal of connecting personally with every single member.
Improved reporting and data analysis, as facilitated by the new LRM system, has also allowed church leaders greater visibility across the organisation. LRM equips LIFE’s decision-makers with meaningful, actionable information, which is easily extracted, meaning less time on administration and more time connecting with people. The metrics available in their new LRM system also means leaders and volunteers are more accountable because the programmes and initiatives they facilitate are measured and reported on.
Most importantly, the new system has seen vastly improved utilisation than the previous system. The intuitive web-access portals in particular have contributed to this increase in user uptake. Users can access the system via different browsers, on different devices, as suits their unique needs. This, alongside inherent improvements in the CRM 2013 user interface, has made user training much easier and more effective. Users now trust the new LRM system and are readily giving up their paper-based processes in favour of their digital dashboards.
A testament to the collaboration between Magnetism and LIFE in creating an effective, customised relationship management tool, is that the church have already sold their solution to another Auckland church and have interest from other large churches nationwide.