Published
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 15:22
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I recently completed a conversion of about 8 years of history from a 5 year old Blackbaud Kintera site to a Drupal CiviCRM solution. Confused yet? Don't worry, all we be revealed in time. As a way of giving back, I am planning to share my experiences good and bad, what worked, what did not, what I learned and what I will and won't do next time.

Let's start with a little background. I have been the technology consultant for Women in Development, New York (www.widny.org) for the past 8+ years now. I started out as a member, graduated to a board member and in the end became their consultant. I have been with this organization since before they had a formal database to manage their members and before they had their first website. Back then, I used my own mail servers to send out their mass emails, my how the times have changed. In addition, to selecting and managing their original database solution, maintaining their first website and sending their emails, I am also the person who converted them to Kintera 5 years ago. At the time, they were the best of the breed in terms of a CMS and database all-in-one solution. Fast forward to today and they were due for an upgrade and I was ecstatic when they decided on a Drupal-CiviCRM solution.

The basic scope of the project was as follows:

1. Provide the same functionality they had with Kintera but improve all processes whenever possible. (membership tracking, handling and management; event registration; paid job listings; sponsorship; membersonly services, etc.)
2. Review & move all existing content to new site. This was an evolutionary upgrade not a total re-design. We wanted to keep some things familiar about how the site worked for the user's comfort level.
3. Convert all bio/demo data and all transaction history from Kintera as well as re-create 3 years of event registration history that was thrown in a corner when we converted to Kintera 5 years ago. NOTE: This was done (5 years ago) to prevent what I did this time which was to create approx. 100 event forms to re-capture the detail on 3 years of events we had prior to the original Kintera conversion. LESSON LEARNED: It's always going to be someone's problem eventually and quite possibly yours, so deal with the issues when they are the freshest to you. It's much easier than re-constructing history, believe me.
4. Offer different registration fees based on the logged in user. (Some custom coding was needed here to manage the options they had once they log in).
5. Re-invent the way that paid job listings were managed in Kintera to lessen the manual effort of the administrators. For this we used a custom Drupal/Ubercart solution.
6. Use video to communicate what had been previously communicated via words. The assumption being that most people do not read today.
7. Replace static pages on the site with ones powered by Views that would automatically update from the CiviCRM or Drupal databases.

In terms of the benefits and impact on users:

1. Much focus was given to making the site easier for the administrators to update and maintain. To replace alot of their manual efforts with automated or database-supported ones. Included with this was the priority of locking down the integrity of the database with custom code.

2. For the members and non-members, the focus was to offer them less choices and a more direct path to getting on the site to do what they needed to do and getting off the site as soon as possible. These are busy fundraisers, consultants and vendors so removing obstacles to them surrending a credit card and getting on with their day was a goal.

So...there you have it in a nutshell. The planning, prep and conversion took approx. 8 months to complete which included template design, re-writing copy, mapping the data, mapping all business processes, converting the database, custom coding, testing, writing a user manual and the launch. I'd like to say, that we are 100% finished but there are still a few straggling projects to be completed and a few bugs that are causing us agida but we soldier on...:-)

In my next post, I will dive right into the conversion of the transaction data as this is something everyone needs to know who embarks on this type of conversion.

Until then, if anyone has any burning questions, they can find me at annalee@lyricsystems.com.

Comments

Thanks for sharing, looking forward to read the parts of your story

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I'm looking forward to the rest of this story as well! Just heard from a group that may need a similar transition from Blackbaud to an alternative and would love to be able to pitch Drupal/CiviCRM as the solution. Can't hurt to have an example of another org that took that route recently and are happy!

Almost done with relaunching our websites on a Drupal/CiviCRM foundation. We wanted to break out of the "box" with our website and Blackbaud Sphere did not provide us with this option. Having worked with Drupal and CiviCRM now for almost 6 months, I can say that for any organization that does work with a membership structure (individual, organization, etc levels), and wants to be creative, CiviCRM is a very good choice for you. Just thinking of the basic membership functionality CiviCRM provides it is a relieve we are there were we are now.