What You Need To Consider When Implementing a CRM System

So you have identified that you need a CRM system but beyond that, you need to ask yourself and your fellow decision-makers in the organisation if you have it in your culture to commit to the solution you install.

The author of this page: Deirdre Lysaght
Deirdre Lysaght, Marketing Executive May 06, 2021
Ask yourself if you can commit to the solution?

Yes, you’ll be involving stakeholders and gathering requirements but that does not equate to the regular dedication that managers will have to exhibit in order to make the solutions work. Manager and end-user daily activities will change and it’s likely that new processes will be introduced. Reporting needs may shift and you need to be confident that your team is unified in the new vision and their commitment to change. Even having a portion of your data in CRM and a portion in inboxes and spreadsheets is going to spell failure. It’s all or nothing, and the whole team has to commit to that.

Decide who is going to run the effort

This may seem like an obvious one, but some companies overlook the accountability aspect, or they assign it to too many people which creates inconsistencies and confusion. One of the most common risks involved with too many voices at the accountability level is “scope creep” which is about as dangerous as it sounds. A month into the project you look up from your emails to find that the project has doubled in price and completion time. Keep the internal implementation team as small as the politics will allow. This team should either have a solid understanding of the overall company structure and business tactics, or they should be allowed the time to build that understanding.

Budget more than money

Budget the resource hours and the right personnel. Make room for these roles to have the time and space to gather processes, work problems, assess solutions and make recommendations. This unfortunately means that there may be opportunity losses associated with the resulting business myopia. This is a hard one for honest salespeople to pitch, and sometimes it’s even harder for some companies to hear. But if your company is committed to the project’s success, then budgeting time and opportunity loss are as important to forecast and prepare for as it is the cost.

Know your precise goals

Prioritise your goals in how relevant they are to the bottom line. You obviously want to increase sales but what major ways do you propose to do that (events, lead nurturing, faster proposal generation, etc)? Do you want to track sales performance more closely? Do you want to integrate sales with your marketing and customer-support efforts? Do you want to increase customer satisfaction with better customer service? Are you looking for a single view of all your customer relationships for strategic planning? Do you want to collect data to support and direct marketing campaigns?

Understand and map your existing business processes

Leaving it up to your users to know the entirety of how processes work and their implications for other departments is risky. For this reason, it is recommended that you appoint a business analyst to document and map existing business processes.

Your analyst will work across the business, gathering various processes from stakeholders and then fit them together to illustrate the entire story (workflow) of what happens, who does it, and how the work moves from one stage to another. They verify if things really do work the way that people think they do. If they don’t, they can highlight these areas to be addressed before the requirements are gathered so you aren’t building a system on processes that aren’t helpful or effective. By examining various workflows, you’ll inevitably find ways to speed things up and find breaks blockers. As you build your CRM, these workflow diagrams will act as a guiding framework to ensure maximum return on investment.

Establish buy-in and early adoption

The sales department will make or break most CRM efforts. If they get the feeling that CRM is something that’s being done to them instead of being done for them, you’re going to have a hard time getting them to use it. Since sales are the major source of data that the CRM system requires, it’s extremely difficult to get any ROI out of your CRM if the sales force doesn’t use it, or worse, doesn’t gather information accurately. The most important things to discover from your sales team are what is working in your present processes and what is not. Identifying pain points and using CRM as the resolution will generate more support for your CRM solution. It will also keep you from adding bad processes to your requirements. Keep your focus on the problems and benefits, not the ultimate solutions themselves.

Make sure that you have input from all departments that will touch your CRM (whether they just enter two points of data or they only receive an auto-generated report once a month). That means input from management down to customer service reps. This sounds like a lot of work, and for some companies it is. But if you budget this work now, you’ll save yourself the countless, unplanned hours required to adjust the system later.

List your requirements

Remember that the admin or partner you engage will actually design the system so your focus should be on functional requirements from a system-agnostic perspective.

There are many recommendations when it comes to creating the perfect requirements document such as;

  • Standardise your language.

  • Be consistent with imperatives.

  • Include your rationale.

  • Make sure each requirement is testable.

  • Use negative requirements sparingly - bring in negatives only if they enhance the understanding of a positive requirement.

Focus on the R in CRM

CRMs should be the vehicle that steers your employees down the road to solid relationships. It’s easy to forget this as you work through the best way to automate a proposal approval process. Be careful not to build what amounts to a transactional database simply to tell you about the status of a customer, prospect, or opportunity. If it appears to ultimately add more time, effort, or monetary cost to the experience, consider remapping the business process to look for inefficiencies. In an effort to optimise all the automation possibilities, companies can find themselves turning a real relationship into a robotic process. Personal relationships between your people and the companies that you do business with cannot be overstated. Be aware that sometimes an attempt to be more efficient can actually alienate the people who already liked the way you did business.

Make integration a priority

Be aware that integrating your CRM with the systems that your workforce relies on is essential to its adoption. Start with the systems that your workers use every day, like email and Document Management. Work outward from there, focusing on interdepartmental scenarios like those including finance and customer service. And don’t forget mobile. You’d be surprised how much your sales team uses their mobile devices to close deals. Make sure they can continue to use it so their win rates don’t drop. There are a lot of integration opportunities to consider, even for the smallest companies. This is one area where employing a partner can really maximise early user adoption while creating a realistic rollout plan.

Understand user adoption

Divide the messaging of your campaign to target the two most critical groups to ensure success: top management and the sales force. As you build your list of goals and requirements, bear in mind the positive impacts for users. Make sure that your stakeholders continue to be a part of the evolution, and that they have the opportunity to poll their departments for challenges and needs. This doesn’t mean you should only involve them when it’s time to upgrade or bring on new features. Schedule regular checkpoints that are communicated to the entire user base, so they know they have a voice. Make sure that management compiles the feedback, creates a plan based on it, and shares it with the organisation so everyone feels that the change is a constructive one.

Phased deployment

The two major reasons that a phased deployment timeline can be beneficial are resource planning and user adoption, so take some time in preplanning to consider categorising the overall install and parsing it out over time. The CRM modules that produce the highest returns are usually the ones that touch the most people. Start with easy wins by beginning with simpler modules and functionality so your users get a solid foundation using CRM. Then ramp up to more complicated processes or larger modules as they gain experience.

Don't limit the scope

As you work through your current state of business with management, be sure to add a second phase that focuses on the company’s three and five-year plans. This can include projected revenue, employee count, investment in specific departments, territory expansions, acquisitions and a lot more. Consider which of these may lend themselves toward automation, system integrations and advanced reporting.

Finally, engaging with a partner can help you recover from small breakdowns faster while staying on track, so consider your options as you try to predict various levels of success.

To learn more about how Dynamics 365 CRM can solve your business challenges, contact Storm Technology.

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