What better way of starting the new year than taking a look at the next generation of Blackbaud’s products that are based on their Infinity platform. A couple of products have already been released but unlike many other products released into the IT wild Blackbaud has chosen, wisely in my opinion, to make the release a quiet affair and not a must have upgrade. I have managed to take a look at Blackbaud CRM. This product is aimed at the larger fundraising organisation and its flexibility certain shows this.
When I first started the application I was suprised that I was unable to enter any kind of constituent data straight away. (Although I later learned that there was a simple process for adding the standard fundraising screens). Instead I had to create my own screens and process flows. Being used to the off the shelf product that is The Raiser’s Edge I was daunted by this task but then realised that this forced the user to really think about their fundraising process and design their own application based around their own business needs rather than being forced to use Blackbaud’s interpretation of how a fundraising organisation should operate. That being said you are not left entirerly on your own. There are standard screens and functions that you can use and change in order to build up your application.
Once you have set up your basic screens (or used the standard screens that come with the configuration application) you are able to customise the screens in a way that was just not possible in The Raiser’s Edge. Each element of the screen can be changed. You can add new tasks to the screen and customise the text on the screen. At the time of writing it is not possible to perform VBA style interactions with existing events but I am told that this is on the horizon. For example if you wanted to perform some processing with addresses on a constituent record, instead of having to go to a plug-ins area of the application you would simply add your functionality to the tasks available for addresses.
What is perhaps the most powerful element of all this customisation is that it is relatively easy to do. By working with the built in edit screens you can edit the program flow quite easily and add existing screens and functions from the catalogue of functions or parts. It is possible to get more complicated and create your own tables and own forms too interact with if you use some code.
The way the Infiinity platform is designed is such that customisation is a part and parcel of the working environment and as such the value of the whole platform is extreme flexibility in creating a fundraising platform customised to your organisation’s needs. Watch this space for forthcoming customisation for the Infinity platform…