Tag Archives: BBCRM

What Blackbaud needs to to do to convince the world of its enterprise software

I was in discussion with Ivan Wainwright recently about Blackbaud CRM and its competitors in the enterprise sized non-profit sector. It would seem that despite being around for a long time Blackbaud CRM has not made as much ground as those of us watching thought it would do. At least that is the case in the UK. It appears to have achieved more in the US.

The obvious competition comes from Salesforce.com and from Microsoft Dynamics. (There are plenty of smaller applications that suit many non-profits but this article is only considering the largest).
This is not a comparative blog. I am not going to analyse the differences down to the last detail. There are others that are much better qualified than I. At the time of writing I am too wedded to Blackbaud to be sufficiently objective. However there are some very good reasons why the competitors will be chosen over Blackbaud CRM.

Both Salesforce and Dynamics have very large for-profit user bases. This means that if there is a problem with the product due to a missing feature it will likely be developed by a third party in response. These users stem mainly from the commercial world meaning that there is less of a non-profit focus and the products evolve less in that direction. That being said there are more and more companies that skin Salesforce and Dynamics for non-profits giving them the missing functionality. Are they any good? In my mind the jury is still out.

These smaller companies that adapt, implement and add extra layers onto Salesforce and Dynamics lack the years and years of non-profit experience that Blackbaud have accumulated. They also lack the sheer volume of clients and client experience. This is where Blackbaud shines. BBCRM is not a skin. It doesn’t paper over the cracks of a for-profit sales system. It was built from the ground up with fundraising at its core.

So why hasn’t BBCRM conquered all? Well despite its obvious experience in the sector, one area Blackbaud has invested less time in is integration. While they naturally integrate or concentrate on integrating their own range of applications, they are beginning to realise that not all organisations want everything Blackbaud. This is even more so with enterprise level organisations. Larger organisations are much less likely to be pure non-profits. Many have commercial arms selling products that feed back into funding their causes. They have helplines, medical record systems, advanced communications tools. They have their alternative systems and don’t necessarily want to change them. They do, however, want to integrate them.

This is where those that implement Salesforce and Dynamics often excel. These platforms have been doing this for a while and are very accustomed to this requirement. The commercial sector is so broad that the source of data being fed into these systems is much more varied and the numbers of users far larger. This is why there is not only a MailChimp integration for Salesforce and Dynamics, there are dozens of other email marketing integrations too. Not to mention integrations with accounting packages, online shopping facilities, websites and blogs, ticketing sites and a whole host of other generic and specialist systems  that fundraisers might want to use.

For Blackbaud to sell its CRM product, their prospects not only have to be convinced that BBCRM can integrate with other applications (which without a doubt it can), but that Blackbaud will be their partner in reaching that goal, by facilitating, encouraging and incentivising others to create these integrations.

We are told that they want us, as customers, to be ‘loyal not trapped’, which is a great mantra. Now they need to embrace integration to show that they are serious about their new motto.

Without this extra dimension to their prospecting and sales process they will surely miss out on the number of sales that BBCRM could achieve.

Introducing Blackbaud +1?

I’m a big fan of Google and a big fan of Blackbaud. What do the two have in common? I’m not sure really. They are very different companies offering very different product ranges. However one obvious difference that is currently affecting me day to day is the fact that whereas Google are changing their interface throughout to reflect a modern sleek approach, Blackbaud (for the their “Edge” range of products at least) are not. In fact, not only are they not changing the way they look and feel, these products are stuck in a design that is several generations old. Due to the nature of the products they are also very restricted as to what they can do.

At the Blackbaud Conference for nonprofits in Washington last month I saw a demo of new functionality in Blackbaud CRM. It was highlighted that this functionality is only available in the “webshell” feature set of the application (as opposed to the ClickOnce feature set). If you are not familiar with those terms then essentially the “webshell” is the functionality available for all in a browser whereas the ClickOnce functionality is available only on Windows. What this also means though is that the webshell can utilise html5 and not be restricted to Windows Forms. This means a beautiful upgrade of the user interface is possible with much less of a struggle.

With the news that there will not be an RE8 what does this mean to those on RE7? When I recently showed our Chimpegration application to MailChimp I felt the need to apologise for the way that The Raiser’s Edge looked. When you look at MailChimp’s website it is very cool and very funky, just as you would expect from a website devoted to email marketing that takes pride in the range of sophisticated email templates on offer.  Clearly there is a lot more technical wizardry to MailChimp than just the templates but if their site did not look good, you would be put off from creating a campaign through them. They could see that the RE7 interface was antiquated but were clearly impressed by the depth of functionality available to users which was matched in Chimpegration.

And that is the point. The most noticeable changes that Google makes in Gmail, calendar, docs, reader, etc are staring right at you in the form of the interface. But they also make a lot of functional additions too. With the release of RE7.92 Blackbaud will certainly make some good improvements but they cannot afford to stop there. The reason Google is updating is as a form of rebranding. Raiser’s Edge 7 does not have that luxury so it must shine with its functional enhancements and make them known as loudly as a new interface would do.

Blackbaud Enterprise CRM Integrations

If you had not noticed, our website zeidman.info has had a make over. We have also added a new section of everything to do with Blackbaud Enterprise CRM and the Infinity platform. Some of the screencasts there were previously embedded in conference presentations so now they have a home of their own. We are really excited by what the Inifinity platform has to offer (even if it is slow coming to the majority of users). Now you can see for yourself the kinds of customisations that can be developed and just how powerful the platform can be.

Have you been working on any BBEC customisations that you would like to share? Have you seen any others out there in the wild. Leave a comment and let us know.

Customizations, SDKs and API’s, Oh RE

If you recognise the title of this post then I was inspired by a BlackbaudKnowHow article of a similar name. In that article the author describes the differences between the three terms and how they relate to Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. This is a good overview and works well for Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. However it breaks down when talking about The Raiser’s Edge 7.

Continue reading Customizations, SDKs and API’s, Oh RE

Bank Checking Software Compared

I have been working with different bank checking software. Blackbaud Europe have written a plug-in for The Raiser’s Edge to update the bank record data such as the name and branch of the bank as well as the address based on the sort code. We recently developed a plug-in that processed the direct debit returns and unpaids from BACS and update the recurring gifts accordingly. In some cases a new bank would need to be created. I was asked to integrate the plug-in with their Blackbaud written plug-in.

Continue reading Bank Checking Software Compared

Google Calendar Integration with The Raiser’s Edge and Blackbaud Enterprise CRM

I mentioned in a previous post how a service I was using to record screencast, ScreenToaster, dissappeared. When they dissappeared so did many of my screencasts. Well I am pleased to bring back to life Google Calendar Integration with The Raiser’s Edge and with Enterprise CRM.

Continue reading Google Calendar Integration with The Raiser’s Edge and Blackbaud Enterprise CRM

A New Raiser’s Edge Package released but no sign on RE on the Infinity platform

Fundraising UK are reporting that Blackbaud have released a new version of The Raiser’s Edge. This is clearly not the new version that very many people have been waiting for. It is not RE8 nor is it on the Infinity platform. It does appear to be useful however for those organisations that want an enhanced, internet aware version of The Raiser’s Edge. The Raiser’s Edge (i) as  it has being called (more details on Blackbaud’s site) is a new hosted package that incorporates a web presence as well as donor maintenance application.

As this new product has just been released, it is hard to imagine that Blackbaud will be announcing RE8 on the Infinity platform any time soon. Combine this with the fact that no major enhancements to The Raiser’s Edge version 7 application are expected, many organisations are surely feeling frustrated by Blackbaud’s apparent inertia. I have worked with Enterprise CRM and know how far advanced that application is from the existing version of The Raiser’s Edge. I have said on numerous times that it is worth wait and I still think it is. The question is how long will others hold out. An organisation that is thinking of upgrading functionality will not wait forever for Raiser’s Edge on Infinity and will certainly be tempted to look elsewhere.

Infinity platform Workflow on Blackbaud Enterprise CRM

I have just finished Paul Gibson’s Workflow workthrough. At the two Blackbaud conferences I attended recently there was much fan fair about Workflow and how it will blow our minds away. Having just started to look at it in some depth, why were they understating this technology implementation! This did more than blow my mind away. The potential is very clear. All of a sudden very complicated applications can be created without the need to write a single line of code. Move over SSIS and bring on Workflow.

What this space for some more customizations in the future using Workflow.

Blackbaud Conferences in London and Washington DC

If you don’t receive my somewhat irregular newsletter (and you can sign up for it here if you want…) then you will, perhaps not have heard that I will be speaking in both London and Washington DC over the next couple of weeks.

I shall be speaking on the differences between customisations on the Infinity platform versus those on The Raiser’s Edge platform. I have a several customisations created for the conferences one of them an integration with Mailchimp, the email delivery provider. The session is not going to be technical (there will be no code) so it is open to everyone. If you are going to be at either of the conferences then it would be great to meet you.

I am looking forward to some exciting announcements from Blackbaud. Here are a couple of my predictions:

  • A public, free, release of the Blackbaud Enterprise CRM SDK
  • The dropping of the name “Raiser’s Edge” in favour of “Blackbaud CRM”
  • Free iPads for all the speakers! (possibly wishful thinking but it may come true)

Look forward to seeing you there!

Blackbaud eCRM and an Unusual Timeout Error

As I mentioned in a previous post I have been working on some sample demonstration material for The Blackbaud Conferences in London and Washington DC. I got a timeout error previously on saving data in a custom form. I was able to fix it entirely by fluke without knowing how I did it. However now I have got it again and it has been driving me crazy.