people-looking-at-paper_0.pngOne of the most important parts of any CRM project is the initial implementation, the process before your team ‘go-live’ with the final system – it’s the part of the project where you get to think how best to structure your data and processes in the new system, what you need to get out of it and what you can do differently.

I work with our customers to help them through this process and to lend my expertise when it is needed, both from a general CRM perspective and a Workbooks perspective. Here are my top 10 tips for planning a successful implementation:

  1. Don’t underestimate how much time it will take to migrate existing data – whether you use a spreadsheet, database, post-it notes, or a combination of all three, you are bound to have some data you want to move to your new CRM system. Now is a great time to go through and cleanse your data, remove duplicates, tidy up addresses/people that have left or just take stock of what you have.
  2. Make sure key staff are involved – your staff will be one of your most useful assets and have a wealth of information that can be pulled into the system, they will make your implementation a success or failure, and it’s good to keep them in the loop as you design your new system.
  3. Use this as a chance to rethink how you do things – with a new CRM system you have the chance to think about how you work and streamline your processes. Do you do things that are long winded/cumbersome? Now is the time to fix them, but be aware of point 4 below.
  4. Try not to prescribe people’s process – this ties in with point 2. Just because you need a management report that provides certain data, don’t force staff into long winded processes/ways of doing things that make their job more difficult. 95% of the time, your staff will know how to do their jobs and be able to help you design ways of recording and storing information so that you all get the most benefits from the system without making their lives unnecessarily difficult.
  5. Training – schedule in time for training, and make sure people aren’t being disturbed. A few minutes interruption during training can cost you hours or even days later on if they don’t pick up some key ways of working with your new system.
  6. Transition/Migration – try and plan the migration of data and transition to the system at a quite period in your business. If this isn’t possible try and make sure that you have some people available to help answer questions from within your organisation, or roll out the new system in a number of smaller, more manageable chunks.
  7. Don’t get bogged down in detail, you can refine as you go – yes it’s important to make sure you capture the key information you need in your new system, but don’t get too hung up about every single option in every single picklist, everywhere in the system. It’s easy to make changes and update options as you go. It will make the process easier and you’ll be able to build your CRM system as your business grows.
  8. Don’t skimp, time is money, let the experts do it – it’s often a false economy to implement your own CRM system. As experts we know lots of the common pitfalls and can implement ideas and processes in hours that may take you days. Is it really worth the time you will spend away from your business to save a few pounds? You’re the experts in your business, we know CRM, it’s a good combination to make an implementation successful.
  9. Don’t rush, make sure it’s right – taking point 7 into account, it’s important not to rush an implementation through. If you’ve only got a week before your year end, are your really going to make a successful go of a project with everything else you have on? Push it back a few weeks, work out how to make sure you can do everything properly and the rewards will be huge.
  10. Accept there will be some resistance – there are always some people who don’t like change, disagree with processes or the way things are happening (you’ve probably already met a few if you got this far!). We always suggest you have 2 ‘champions’ to head up a successful implementation who can be a ‘go-to’ between key departments in your organisation and are responsible for the ‘bigger picture’ in your project.
  11. K.I.S.S. – as an added bonus: if in doubt, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. Do you have 2 ways you could do something? Always work with the simpler of the two. It’s much easier to add a bit of detail rather than trying to take away from an overly complicated process.

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