Are you embarking on a CRM implementation for the first time? Even if you’ve been through it before, here are some tips that can make your CRM implementation a little less stressful and hopefully more successful.
1. Identify and Prioritize Key Functionality
CRM Solutions incorporate a wide range of functionality. Identify the key business issues (pain) driving the project, and determine the areas of functionality that will address those business issues most effectively. It will be tempting to expand the focus, but doing so could overwhelm new users and therefore jeopardize end-user adoption.
2. Keep it Simple (At Least Initially)
With a highly customizable CRM application, there is often temptation to over design the solution during the initial implementation or “Phase 1”. Keep it simple to start and add as you go. Customizations involve hiding views and fields that don’t have any specific use — and adding tables, fields and rules that support your business processes.
3. Get End-User Buy In
If your users don’t see immediate value, they will resist using the product. It’s important that they like the look and feel of the product and can see ways in which it will improve their job performance. Involve end users in the entire process and get their buy in. By involving representative users in the up-front evaluation process, you will ensure a high degree of ownership.
4. Get Buy In From Everyone Else
Get as wide spread buy in as possible. In addition to end-users, buy should ideally come from:
* Senior Management
* Departmental Managers (Sales, Marketing, Customer Support and IT)
5. Create a Risk Management Plan
Identify the three to five major risks of deploying CRM and create a brief plan or statement for mitigating those risks.
6. Consider Customer Impact
Remember that CRM strategies are typically intended to improve “Customer Relationships” through improved efficiencies and effectiveness. Re-examine the key functional requirements from the customer’s perspective – what is the value being added for the customer?
7. Designate a Single Point of Contact
Make one person in your organization responsible for making final project decisions. This is critical for making sure the project comes in on time and under budget. This individual should oversee/manage the process for making system changes and additions. Avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen.
8. Make “CRM Administrator” a Job Description
Designate a person to be a part time or full time system administrator, depending upon the size of your implementation. Make sure this person has relational database administration experience and that they can communicate well with end-users. If this type of person is not available, consider contracting with your CRM vendor for a long-term administrative support engagement. CRM applications can’t and won’t run by themselves.
9. Overestimate Time for Tasks
With CRM implementations, certain tasks will take longer than you expect. For example, you might expect that importing a spreadsheet should take less than an hour. However, critical fields in the source data may not exist in the CRM database, and the database may need to have fields added in order to match the source. Imported data may have to be assigned to the correct users or teams based upon certain rules. Data types may not match for a given field and the source data may need to be manipulated.
10. Manage Expectations
CRM applications are designed for specific tasks. If sponsors and end-users expect it to be something that it’s not, they will be disappointed. For example, don’t expect a CRM system’s group calendaring function to fully replace an Outlook or a Lotus Notes.
12. Deploy a Structured Sales Process
A CRM implementation provides a great opportunity for you to reinforce or introduce a sales methodology. Methodologies can range from pre-configured software add-ons to something as simple as including your own sales cycle stages. But remember – keep it simple.
13. Establish a Data Quality Management Process
Employ a process for reviewing and cleaning any existing data that will be migrated into a new CRM system, then establish an on-going process for reviewing and cleaning your CRM data. Incorporating de-duplication functionality at the data entry point can make the on-going maintenance of your data much more manageable.
14. Identify Critical Reports and Business Intelligence
Reports are typically a key up-front requirement for a CRM solution, but unless the data is being entered, reports will be useless. Expect to get the bare amount of information from end-users. Some companies that present CRM to you will show you a plethora of elegant reports. In order for many of these reports to be worth running, users must input a lot of data – more than most are willing to.
In addition, out of the box reports are like work gloves – one size fits nobody. The reports that you really need will often have to be custom created.
15. Establish a Process for Ongoing Changes
Create a CRM team with individual representatives from all departments touching the system, and establish a process for managing customizations. By having people submit “customization requests” for evaluation, and subsequent implementation you will be able to maintain a high degree of user adoption. The easier a system is to customize, the more tempting it will be to make changes on the fly.
16. Establish an Ongoing Training Strategy
Establishing a core skill level at rollout is critical for creating a benchmark for data entry. Offering training on a regular basis will ensure this skill level is maintained with existing and new users. To increase skill levels we recommend offering regular “tutorials”. End-users will have the potential to increase their effectiveness and efficiency by employing more advanced functionality.