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June 5th, 2020 by

Being a part of many successful CRM implementation launches, and observing many that weren’t successful, we have learned what it takes to make a project successful. Our team has collected some general guidelines that can help increase the chances that your project will be successful. If you are planning a CRM Implementation project in the future, here are some points of consideration that will aid you in making it a success:

1. To begin, create a clear definition of your needed and desired CRM project outcome. Knowing your desired outcome is reflected in the famous saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” The importance of knowing what you want cannot be underestimated in its value when tackling a new project. We can discern quickly when a customer doesn’t spend enough time on this step. Make sure you think through the business processes that you are currently using and consider what you plan to be using going forward with a new CRM tool. The more you think through your project end goals, and how your team wants to get there, the less likely you are to incur additional and unexpected costs from scope changes or scope creep during the process. This clarity and focus will assist you throughout the entire project life-cycle, ensuring you actually end up with the tool you wanted to have in place.

2. Ensure commitment and buy-in from your internal team, especially leadership stakeholders and those who will be responsible for implementation. The idea of a putting a new CRM system in place is often different than the realities of doing so. If you have ever been a part of organizational change with a group of people, you know this not always welcomed by all involved. Not only is it important to have a Project Champion on your team, it is imperative that you have support from the top leadership down, both in word and in deed, that is, they become part of the whole process and adoption. People will follow those who lead, if it is done well and comprehensively. Some people adapt quicker to change, or welcome change, more easily than others. When implementing a new CRM system, it is as important to engage the champion users, as it is those who might struggle with change. The more buy-in and support you have, the greater the likelihood you will enjoy the success of change once the project is complete. Most people have to see what is in it for them; so implementing change from that standpoint is very important.

3. Have a planned budget that accounts for your entire CRM project needs. There are always unseen costs in new initiatives. Plan for those unseen costs with the understanding that it is common for a project to come in somewhere in the range of 10% under, or 10% over the original budget. In addition to planning for overage, understand there might be things your team realizes during the project life-cycle that motivate a change request or an additional set of desired features. Sometimes it is difficult to see the art of the possible, until you are already immersed in the project. If you didn’t budget for the unexpected, be prepared to say, “No,” until you have a budget for the additional items later.

4. Carry clear understanding of the variety of internal resources needed on your team for successful CRM implementation. Sometimes customers can help their project success along by planning for the internal resources on their side that will be needed to launch a new project. Understanding that your team and resources’ availability has such impact on the success of a project is important and can help frustration not to build when resource availability becomes thin at certain points of the project. The following resources should be considered and planned for in any CRM project implementation:

– An infrastructure and hardware that is supported by the new product, compatible with the product and up to date.

– A project team, including IT, with dedicated time, expert knowledge and empowered to be successful.

– Security barriers managed to allow access to your company’s hardware and enables work to be completed efficiently and timely.

– A realistic change management plan in place as part of the CRM implementation.

5. Dedicate an Internal Project Champion to spearhead project and accompanying change management. When everyone’s schedules and energy are pulled in many directions during the project, it is important to have an internal person with the bandwidth to champion and drive your project along. This person will serve as the point person, and often times your team’s project manager, and is a very important change agent in the project launch experience. Making sure this person has the ability to dedicate energy, time and focus to your new project can make all the difference in a project’s success. What that means, in reality, is making sure they have the time and resources available to perform this role without it being a second job or an additional load that is unbearable.

6. Set a realistic project timeline that accounts for other organizational plans happening simultaneously. Picking the timeline with a realistic completion deadline is one of the most important considerations to make when planning a project. A timeline that is too short can cause unnecessary stress and can set up a situation that is untenable for even the best project teams. No matter how much planning you do in advance, it is impossible to account for every risk or issue that may arise. In addition, it is important to consider other initiatives going on within your company, and plan accordingly. Many companies will plan a project around a particular event or relative to other dependencies. What often sounds good in theory can often turn into a greater challenge than anyone accounted. Choose a timeline where your change management can best succeed all around.

7. Have a clear Training and Implementation Plan for end users that will ease their apprehension of the changes that are occurring. When you are dealing with people, any kind of change can feel threatening, especially if it is change you did not choose and are not controlling. Planning for the kind of change a new CRM system can bring requires being intentional and making sure you have accounted for its timing and impact on daily work processes. This is an area that you want to neither shortcut nor belabor. Many times we see changes that come with a new CRM system impact various groups within the same company differently. Therefore, the training required for each group can also vary. If you do not plan enough training, people will not be comfortable and will possibly avoid using the system, and if you plan too much then it could be difficult to keep their attention. Expert trainers are well versed in helping plan the right amount for your team; and because this is their area of expertise, they can be a true asset to making sure you have the best plan for success in place.

When beginning a CRM implementation project, it is so important to plan for success. That doesn’t happen on its own. Having a team that is dedicated, insightful, and engaged, and also one that follows seasoned best practices can be all you need to produce your desired outcome! Happy planning!

IF you would like to learn more tips, or have a CRM topic you would like us to write about, please contact Simplesoft Solutions, Inc.

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Simplesoft Solutions, Inc. is a customer relationship management (CRM) business consulting and software development firm in Cincinnati/Dayton OH surrounding areas. We provide implementation, integration, development and training for Infor CRM (formerly Saleslogix). We have built our business on an ability to creatively adapt CRM to meet the varying needs of our customers’ businesses. We have been helping our customers develop stronger relationships with their customers through improved sales, marketing, customer service, and support processes since 1994.

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