Planning for your CRM Implementation

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For an organization, implementing a CRM is like buying a software product and using it. But implementing CRM is a change management initiative that needs to be driven from the top to level 5. Most of the change initiatives have to be planned well, resourced well and the change needs to be trained and marketed well. An experience of more than a decade in this field has made us better performers. Let us understand certain aspects so that we can make CRM implementation a success.

Understand the CRM implementation is a Change Initiative:

You must make it sure that you and people who are involved in your CRM implementation, are aware of the fact that ‘CRM Implementation is Change Initiative” and not an application deployment. Most of the mid-level executives often think that CRM implementation is just another software application deployment and will depend heavily on an IT savvy person or IT team. This has a huge impact on the overall CRM implementation and brings a very subtle but irreparable damage during the later phases of implementation.

The most successful CRM initiatives we have seen are driven by either the “Business User” who are process oriented or by “Owner / Business User” in small and medium business. They have attained success because they have taken a chance to “Change” the way the business is working rather than training and urging the business users to use the application. If we first understand that it is a change initiative, then we must identify the team for the change initiative that includes:

    • Executive Management or a representative from the Executive Management.
    • Business User – A senior business user who is tackling the current way of operation.
    • IT Manager – A system-in-charge in the current set up who can do project management / internal process management and Vendor management.
    • Vendor – Identification of the Vendor should be done by the above three.

Understand where are you currently on the CRM part

Whether you are a small or big company, your customer relationship management can maintain the functions of your organisation very well. It is well programmed to receive the current information and process it based on the executive whims and fancies. So, capturing the current status with bit of details will help in preparing and interacting with the vendors and vendor business analyst.

This could be as simple as, capturing leads in Google Spreadsheet. It very well stores the purchased orders in shared folder or ERP and also, collects the customer support emails which can be accessed by the team. The opportunities at each team level or geography level are captured in small application etc.

Check with the limitations the Business Users are facing due to the current system

The most important success factor for CRM Implementation is getting the Business User relief from their current challenges. We identify and document the key issues business users are facing in the current process and this is a vital factor to be considered during adoption and acceptance. Mostly, it is the End Users who have more pressing problems that needs to be solved rather than adding one more tool activity to satisfy the monitoring need of the management. So, enabling the end users in solving their issues at the very early stage is the key to gaining many benefits during the implementation and adoption. Sometimes there may not be right inputs, but once they starts giving their feedback, there is a very high chance of success.

The IT Manager and the Executive management team may not be aware of the operational challenges faced by the sales and support team. However, this is a good opportunity for the sales and support team to handle the real challenges on their own with the help of the system.

Learn from the Implementation Vendors

You can conduct a research on some of the CRM products and CRM implementation companies for knowing more about its record and functioning. The products and their features are changing slowly and if we look at the top 3 to 5 CRM applications in the market, almost 80% of their features are similar.

The interaction with the identified vendors should be used to learn what is CRM, what are its functions and also for training the vendors on realizing the business challenges that need to be solved. The idea of a ‘requirement document’ can be expanded during this period from a high level business need to detailed requirements. Instead of blindly looking at the features of different products and making those features as the requirement document, there can be a better and sensible business requirement document that can be evolved by learning from the vendors and letting them know the business needs.

Plan for the Implementation

Now, as we have a good idea of the Product, the implementation partner and business requirements, so, it is necessary to understand the time, effort and budget that is required for going for an implementation. The key items that need to be planned for are:

      • The product and the license cost.
      • The business requirement and the time, effort and cost needed for the implementation
      • Plan for the integration points and test systems for development and testing.
      • The Business User availability for rollout – Generally a lean season of Sales and Marketing is the right time.
      • Training and End User Adoption Strategy. Typical challenges that might be encountered based on the type of users you have- first time users, advanced users, low on education users etc.
      • Deployment Strategy – On-site, On Demand or Private Cloud etc.
      • Compliance and Security Strategy.
      • Phased Rollout Strategy for adoption and budgets. Burning the Ocean is going to burn the implementation.

Most of these elements must be thoroughly considered before getting into the procurement and identifying process.

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