Implementing a CRM system is not without its challenges, particularly for small and mid-size companies that tend to have limited or no dedicated IT teams.
Here is a list of the five things to watch out for to ensure CRM success.
1. Clarity on project objectives
In order for any CRM project to be a success, there needs to be clarity on what success actually looks like. We speak to many organisations who ‘feel’ they need a CRM system, but are not entirely sure what it could deliver and how it will benefit the business.
We encourage these organisations to really consider what they are trying to achieve by investing in a CRM project and how their business might be different in 6–12 months with a successfully deployed solution.
It is important to recognise that different teams inside your business will have different and often competing priorities. The sales team’s number one priority might be more leads, whilst the customer services team might feel that a new support system is more important. In order to clarify all of this, ask yourself the following three questions:
- What are the high-level objectives of the business?
- How would a CRM system help me achieve these?
- How important are these objectives, relative to each other?
A simple table like the one below can add real value by allowing everyone to understand the issues and help prioritise accordingly:
2. Executive Sponsorship
CRM projects require time and money and may entail a change in working practices. This means, that for any CRM project to be successful there must be support from business leadership. By support we don’t just mean a willingness to sign the cheque (although clearly that helps!).
Business leaders must:
- Manage competing requirements and set clear business priorities.
- Clearly define requirements. For the CRM system to really improve the business, it will need to deliver good quality KPIs, so the right people can make the right decisions. If the leadership clearly define their requirements early in the project, the CRM project is likely to deliver its promise.
- Motivate others: in SMEs the company leadership tend to be intimately involved with the working of the company and the staff. They need to see the CRM project as important, and everyone else will too.
3. User involvement in the planning process
Sometimes CRM initiatives are driven ‘top-down’ with the business leadership keen to realise the value a good deployment can deliver. However, in the enthusiasm to get a system implemented, sometimes the people who actually use the system day to day are not properly consulted. You need to involve users in the process so that they understand the value CRM can bring to their role. Including users in the journey will help them visualise the long-term benefits, make them feel like stakeholders and help them embrace change.
Typically in SMEs the people who really understand the existing business process are the users who actually do the work, therefore, its key to get users involved early in the project. Establish a project team right from the outset and include managers and users. Empower the users’ representatives to be ‘project champions’, tasked with explaining to their colleagues why the CRM project is being started, what value it delivers to the business and ensuring they get feedback on issues or concerns from their peers.
4. Recreating existing processes in a new system
CRM projects are started because the existing systems and processes don’t deliver the desired result. Keep this front of mind at all time – implementing a new system that simply duplicates the existing processes is unlikely to improve things. Implementing a new CRM system provides a great opportunity to review and improve underlying business processes. Again user engagement here can be critical. We often find that when asked, people running a particular process or function can identify ways to improve it – given the opportunity and the right support.
It helps to identify which processes run within a department (such as sales forecasting) and which go across teams from marketing to sales to order processing and finance. When a process runs across a business, it makes sense to get the stakeholders together to discuss how the process can be improved. This doesn’t need to be complex and a good CRM vendor will help you with this process.
A piece of advice here: Be open-minded to changing your process to fit the solution, rather than spending a lot of money on customising the solution to fit your existing process.
5. Choosing the right Partner
The CRM software market is mature and there are many solutions to choose from, most providing a rich set of features. Look beyond product functionality to see what else you might need to ensure your project delivers a return on your investment.
- Is price the most important factor?
- Do you need help with the design and implementation?
- Do you need user training?
- Do you need to migrate your data from a legacy system?
- Once in place, will you need on-going support?
One of the most important factors should be to understand how much focus and support you are likely to get from your CRM provider. Will your business be important to them and will they go the extra mile to ensure you are successful?
To find out more about how to achieve a successful CRM implementation why not read our 7 step guide for small & mid-size businesses of the essential ingredients a successful implementation has.
Another resource to help you along your CRM journey is the CRM Readiness Checklist Whitepaper which will help you find out if you have taken the necessary steps in order to embrace the change and achieve the all-important successful CRM implementation.