Sunday, April 23, 2017

Aligning People and Process to Drive Performance

Thursday, 09 April 2015 13:54

National Bike Month & Risk Management

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May is National Bike Month and it is celebrated in communities across the United States, culminating in National Bike to Work Week.  Here in Grand Rapids, the celebration is called "Active Commute Week" and is more focused around ditching your car and using alternative, “active” methods of transportation for getting to and from work. The result is not just promoting healthy life habits, but also about exploring public transportation options and making choices that are better for our environment.  I’m happy to say that DPT has been participating in Active Commute Week every year since I joined DPT and we have had a lot of fun encouraging each other to increase participation.


As many times as I’ve participated in and advocated for Active Commute Week and National Bike to Work week, I did not participate in Active Commute Week in 2014 because I left DPT to pursue a lifelong dream of bicycling across North America (read about it on At this time last year, I spent my days working on project plans for my DPT work, while I spent my evenings doing much the same for our upcoming bicycle trip. There were far too many sleepless nights on my part, fretting about everything that could possibly go wrong on the bicycle trip – until it struck me that this was just another project to plan and that a risk management plan would help me sleep better at night.  This picture below shows just some of the risks we planned for:

risk management

I’m happy to say that we didn’t have to resort to our contingency plan for Risk #8 – we employed our mitigation plan and bicycled up every mountain we encountered – except for the one that we had to abandon after our rear hub blew out 3 miles from the top.  And when that hub blew out, we went to the contingency plan for Risk #10 and had my sister mail our spare rear wheel to us in Republic, Washington.


You don’t have to be a cross-country bicyclist to give Active Commute Week a try. The risks are very easy to manage. Pump up your tires, lube your chain, plan out a route, leave a change of clothes at work the day before, grab your cell phone, get on your bike and ride! President John F. Kennedy said, "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."

We are currently preparing for another year of fun activities and gimmicks to get our DPT team more active for Active Commute Week 2015.  We’d love to hear from our blog readers out there regarding how your organization participates in Active Commute Week / National Bike Month!  If you’re thinking of getting into bicycle commuting, Active Commute Week is a great time to give it a try!​ Check it out at the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycling Coalition website: or contact me (Shawn Rathbun) at DPT!

And if something is keeping you up at night, it's probably time to work on your Risk Management Plan.  We at DPT can help with that too!

Monday, 30 March 2015 10:41

Conquering the Ever-Elusive BHAG

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DPT Henry head
Read more about Henry Morley


I was honored to speak about leadership at the recent Christian Business Round Table (CBRT) Summit event. While the theme for the day was the “8 C’s of C-level Leadership,” my presentation was more focused on operational leadership traits and approaches. Together with Dave Nemmers, CEO at Midstate Security, we talked about how conducting an “Operational Reality Check” as a key input to your business strategy and vision can significantly increase the odds for meeting your business performance goals. Dick Rolfe, CEO of the Dove Foundation, talked about the importance of setting BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) in your business strategy development.

In our previous nonprofit post we outlined four areas in which a nonprofit can benefit by leveraging for-profit business strategies and tactics. Now we will share some key points from a recent presentation we did at the West Michigan Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFPWM). Specifically, we will talk about how you can create an environment that allows you to manage ALL of your relationships with people, not just the donors.Tweet: Create an environment that allows you to manage ALL of your relationships, not just donors @dptsolutionsinc #nonprofit #CRM

JohnWesley Quote

Typically, nonprofits have a high level of sophistication around the processes and systems used to manage donor related information and activities. After all, this is the life blood and often what fuels the nonprofit to deliver on its mission. It is also common that other functions across the organization do not coordinate well with processes, donor management systems and data. Similar to what happens in a for-profit organization, functional “silos” result in many different special purpose systems and processes being maintained. No matter the cause, this results in your nonprofit team not being able to effectively coordinate to manage relationships at an organizational level.

Here are some indicators that your nonprofit may need to think about a new way to manage relationship information:

  • Households receive duplicate communications (or none) from different parts of your organization
  • Simple tasks such as address changes require multiple updates in many systems
  • Each of your functions (development, marketing, service delivery, memberships, board relations, volunteers, etc.) have separate and distinct “people records” that are not integrated
  • Targeted marketing is either not possible or often hits the wrong target audience
  • Simple things like creating a Christmas Card List becomes a "seventeen spreadsheet circus"

For-profit businesses solve these challenges with a CRM or Customer Relationship Management strategy and solution. In this context CRM is beyond a “system”, but instead a way to organize and manage the information and processes connecting your nonprofit with the people and organizations that are important to your mission. For most nonprofits, this could include volunteers, donors, clients, boards or steering committees, sponsoring organizations, foundations, benefactors, etc.

CRM solutions provide much more depth and value than maintaining your individual or organizational records. It also provides one “source of truth” for managing the entire relationship with the person or organization – no matter how simple or complex. The robust relationship, communication and task management functionality that for profit organizations have leveraged from CRM for many years in their sales and customer services processes can also be leveraged in a nonprofit. With it, you can:

  • Enhance your donor, marketing and service delivery processes to drive efficiency and focus on the success of your mission
  • Have a common platform that creates visibility into all communications, tasks, statuses and other key information critical to your nonprofit
  • Create more efficient cross-system integration opportunities with the central person or organizational record being used as a common bond
  • Enables a consolidated set of reports, dashboards and views to have visibility to the breadth of your relationships

CRM solutions are not cookie cutter. While the points above are generalized – the exact benefits that your nonprofit would receive are specific to your unique situation and mission. Whether or not you already have a well-defined donor management process and information system, CRM can allow your organization to more effectively manage all of the important relationships beyond just donors.

Next up in our nonprofit blog series…… ROI for nonprofits?

Thursday, 12 March 2015 13:27

Free Download: Continuous Improvement Checklist

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Are you a leader of a nimble and innovative organization? 
Put yourself and your organization to the test!

Many successful leaders craft their own blueprint for success, but at some point the results from those best practices hit a plateau: Product lines and services that were once differentiators can eventually face stiff competition or market saturation. Productivity and quality will suffer when a sense of urgency is missing and short-term goals lack variety.

To achieve stretch goals and refresh blueprints, competitive, leading organizations create a culture where innovation is valued and goals are dynamic. Tweet: Competitive, leading organizations create a culture where innovation is valued & goals are dynamic. @DPTsolutionsinc

Continuous improvement, a lean concept, is a well-documented and repeatable methodology meant to harness the power of transparency to goals, operational flaws, and accountability. It encourages a culture of experimentation, creating leaders out of its management and innovative contributors out of its staff.

Whether you’ve launched a continuous improvement program or are interested in doing so, download DPT’s printable Continuous Improvement Checklist and challenge your commitment to excellence.


Click the image for instant access to the checklist:

continuous improvement checklist



JohnWesley Quote

Most nonprofit employees are truly driven by the desire to serve their mission and constituents. Your purpose matters, and working for a nonprofit is at the heart of what makes you tick. So why would you want to treat your nonprofit like a for-profit business?

Carefully selecting and using some of the tried and true business principles from the for-profit world can help you serve more people and expand your outreach with the same amount of resources. Finding the right strategies to help you gain efficiencies and become more effective at how you serve can only be a good thing when it leads to helping more people and ultimately furthering your mission.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing some strategies you can leverage to grow your nonprofit:

1. Manage all of your relationships, not just donor relationships (Read the blog post)

Do each of your organizational functions have separate and distinct “people records”?  As an efficient nonprofit, you should be able to easily evaluate and manage multi-dimensional relationships as well as streamline and target your communications based on those relationships.

2. Recognize where you fit in the new social enterprise model (Read the blog post)

With the advent of benefit corporations that are for-profit but include a positive impact on society as well as the growth of philanthropic foundations funded by for profit companies, the lines between nonprofit and for-profit entities are continuing to blur. Nonprofits have more competition than they’ve ever had.  Have you honed your mission and adjusted your marketing strategies accordingly?

3. Focus on maximizing Return on Investment (ROI) (Read the blog post)

Many nonprofits focus on driving down administrative costs, thinking of it as “overhead” instead of an investment that will drive future growth and greater impact in the world.  We’ll discuss how investing in efficient processes and systems can help you get more donations, do more business, and ultimately help more people.  While how you do this might be different than a for-profit business, the concept of measuring the value generated from your efforts and investments in these areas is still a valuable activity.

4. Leverage sales and marketing techniques common to a for-profit business

Does everyone have good visibility into your development “pipeline”?  Are Development and Marketing working from the same playbook and information? As an example you should have a clear understanding of how a potential donor relationship can add value to your mission through other means – whether as a volunteer, member, or otherwise.

DPT’s experience in the nonprofit sector is helping implement best practices around these strategies and delivering improved performance. If you want to grow your nonprofit, and do it the right way, we hope you’ll join us over the next couple weeks as we dive into these strategies.


Join us on March 10 as we present at the Association of Fundraising Professionals about "How CRM Can Help Manage the Rest of Your Relationships Beyond Donors."

Based on DPT's experience with many West Michigan clients in the nonprofit sector - we'll be giving real life experiences and applications for using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to help manage and coordinate all of the relationships you have with your constituents and member, and provide value back to the development side of your organization.

We hope to see you there!

Details & Registration


brad morrill guest post graphic

Managing a team of salespeople has its own set of challenges. As Director of Sales at Crystal Flash, I’ve seen numerous benefits since implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution in helping increase the effectiveness of our sales team and how we can serve the organization as a whole. Having all of your customer information in one place, timeliness and accuracy of actionable information, and a more standardized, streamlined sales process are all important benefits of having CRM for sales management. But the biggest benefits to Crystal Flash using CRM are related to visibility and transparency to real time sales and marketing information.
The specific benefits include:

Visibility to the Sales Pipeline and Forecast

CRM allows us to see all of our open sales opportunities, what stage they’re in, and who is doing what – all in one place. As a Sales Manager, it allows me to really focus in on where I can help my sales team the most in closing business and managing relationships. It helps keep us organized, and the visibility of real-time data in the sales pipeline is a huge benefit.  Specifically, I review the sales pipeline in CRM during every 1:1 meeting with each of my teammates. I like to start at the bottom of the funnel (those opportunities nearest to closing) and work backward to leads. Doing this allows me to understand where each individual is stuck in moving opportunities through the pipeline and lets me see their patterns. Some people don’t like to enter an opportunity until it is almost a lock to close while other people enter opportunities that have very little chance of closing. Using CRM has helped me guide the whole team to a more balanced view so that we are “talking the same language” when it comes to closing opportunities.

Reduction in Spreadsheets

We used to send spreadsheets with new leads out to our sales people. They in turn may or may not update it, use it, or report back with it, which caused me to have to spend more time following-up with individuals to get the information from them. Also, the instant we sent a spreadsheet out, it was out of date. Today, instead of having lots of spreadsheets with old and unused data floating around, we load the leads directly into CRM – a tool the sales people are already using. It saves our sales team time because the leads are filled in for them with basic contact information and a high-level assessment about the quality of the lead. As a Sales Manager, I have better visibility to open leads and are able to track them through the sales process whether they’re won or lost.

Telling the “Sales Story”

As with any organization, I need data at my fingertips to be able to effectively show the other teams in the organization what sales is doing and how it impacts them. After implementing CRM, I now have real-time data and forward projections easily accessible so I can effectively tell the sales story. This saves me time in not having to recreate reports and provide separate updates for other parts of the organization. It has cut down dramatically that question most sales managers get from time-to-time, “What are those sales people doing anyway?”

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with how well our implementation of CRM has gone. We’ve been using it for six months and it has become an indispensable tool for the entire team. People who were naysayers have changed their tune and told me it has made their jobs easier and helped them stay focused. Finally, I know we’re on the right path because my team is coming up with idea after idea on how to add to CRM and make it even better!


More about how DPT is helping local organizations

Monday, 19 January 2015 12:40

How to Manage What Your Sales Team Promises

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Jack Kelly2 - headshot 

Read more about Jack Kelly

Reflecting on 2014, you find yourself satisfied that your team had a pretty successful year. As the leader accountable for operations, your team was able to deliver on all of the promises the sales team laid out in the market. However, there were costs… stress, tension, resource attrition, overworked staff and occasional customer service issues. Looking forward, the sales goals for 2015 are higher yet and have you wondering if your team is prepared to deliver on the new wave of sales promises that are sure to come. How will you manage resources to balance fulfillment and operating efficiency goals? If this describes you, here is the first of five key focus areas that may affect your success rate in 2015.

Goal Sets

The sales team and operations team must have aligned goals. This seems simple enough, but a key impediment to successful sales/operations synergy is the existence of unintended conflicts. These conflicts are created by misaligned metrics, goals, incentive plans, performance measurements and job design responsibilities. The best case scenario is to have a clear set of goals that are aligned from the organizational level down to the primary process roles on both teams. This makes it easy for each person to understand how their work contributes to the success of their team, the other teams, and the organization as a whole.

This does not mean that all goals are team based nor are they identical. However, they must all “fit together” and not drive contradictory activities. Additionally, goal sets provide an important lever to complement the leader’s coaching effort to align actions across teams.

What are the other keys to keeping your sales and operations in sync?

Download the rest of the article to discover four more focus areas for success in 2015. Click the image below to get it now!

Graphic - Manage what your sales team promises


Thursday, 08 January 2015 16:42

Resolutions you'll have broken by 1/31

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2015 has arrived! Like most of us, you probably have a list of aspirations for improving yourself and your business over the next year…

resolution list

While a couple of these are fun, if we are honest with ourselves most of these resolutions don’t make it through January. How can you make them stick? Here is a key to success in making sure your New Year’s resolutions don’t fall apart:

Pay attention to project culture and changing behavior.

Whether you’re diving into social media to generate demand, making your processes more efficient to save money, or improving your project governance to drive performance, the real hard work begins with changing people’s behaviors. Winning the hearts and minds of the people you work with must be addressed in tandem with business culture issues (politics and resource management, for example) in order for your business resolutions to really take hold.

While change management isn’t the only success driver, it’s one of the most important and often gets the least amount of consideration. A good start is vowing to change that in 2015.

DPT has a history of success in helping West Michigan businesses realize their improvement resolutions. Contact us to learn more about how we can drive performance together in 2015.


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