Thomas M
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Upgrading CiviCRM: Better ways to do things, big and small

Thomas M
Posted by
28 May 2013

Over the next month we’ll be upgrading our customer relationship management system from CiviCRM 4.1 to 4.3. But what does this mean? Why are we doing it?

Put simply - it’s because 4.3 is better than 4.1. One of our guiding principles here at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is to constantly search for better ways to do things, big and small. We’re not the only people thinking this way. It may not be news to many of you, but the incredible success of our Olympic Cycling Team last summer was famously driven by making small, iterative improvements in everything they did. We believe the same and this is part of a continual drive to strengthen our organisation. As it is open source software we can do most of the work in our in house digital team, improving our system and contributing improvements for others.

An upgrade to CiviCRM will make us more efficient; allow us to be deliver better service to the incredible people who support us; make our data safer and help reduce user error in the system. What that means is it will help us raise more money and get us that little bit closer to beating blood cancers.


WHAT IS CIVICRM FOR?

We use CiviCRM to help us manage the hundreds of thousands of interactions we have with our amazing supporters. If they make a donation, CiviCRM makes sure we thank them correctly. If they change their address, CiviCRM is where we store that change. If they are taking part in one of our sports events, CiviCRM makes sure the t-shirt they get sent is the right size. And much much more. It is an essential part of our infrastructure here and raising the money, organising the events and managing the research grants that we do would be much harder without it.

WHY CIVICRM?

As an organisations we believe that we have a duty to make any money we spend have the greatest impact for social good. By being an open source first organisation, we try to ensure as much of our digital development as possible is released back to the CiviCRM community - allowing other not for profit organisations to take advantage of our work too. An open source software is one built by thousands of different users - a community - sharing their code with one another for free. Being open source first means if there is an open source software that meets all our requirements we will use that. If there isn’t we will use non-open source software where necessary. (Watch this blog space for more information on our digital principles and open source technology coming soon).

TIMESCALES

We’re hoping to have the upgrade done by mid July. So (this bit’s for the team here)  that will mean we need some time from many of the team around the organisation to test the changes so we can make sure they all work perfectly before pushing them live.


SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF CIVICRM 4.3 (THIS BIT IS FOR DIGITAL FOLKS MAINLY)

In line editing: One of the standout improvements in 4.3 is the in line editing facility. This will make changing people’s details and entering new information much easier, saving a great deal of time particularly in teams like supporter engagement who are responsible for dealing with our supporters every day.

Contact edit locking: This means if two people try and change the same details at the same time they won’t be able to. This will reduce the chance of accidental mistakes.

Better notifications: The system will now make it really clear what action you have just taken.

Security: As with all software we need to keep up with the latest version to ensure the data we hold is as secure as it possibly can be.

Accounting integration: CiviCRM 4.3 integrates better with our accounting system, thereby making efficiency savings in our finance team and ensuring our accounting information is even more accurate.

If you want more details about some of the improved features in CiviCRM 4.3 there’s a top ten improvements blog here: http://civicrm.org/blogs/colemanw/top-10-reasons-get-excited-civicrm-43


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