I’m almost through another CRM implementation (Salesforce) which is a key part of a broader digital transformation project. Putting my geeky hat on for a moment, this is the most interesting CRM project due to the level of engagement across several business units (e.g. sales, marketing, digital, member care, operations, IT and finance), along with several integration points with existing business systems including feeding data into a new data warehouse. Ok, geeky moment over.
At the end of a recent CRM reference call, I was asked for my top tips for a CRM implementation:
- Be realistic with your CRM implementation
Carefully manage stakeholder expectations with how the CRM solution will fit with your business strategy and provide value to the business. The success or failure of a CRM is directly tied its uptake and utilisation and this is closely tied to how the CRM roll out is managed.
- Understand your business processes
Don’t reengineer your business processes during implementation as it will delay your project and increase project costs. Any process reengineering should be considered before you select your CRM as it can influence product selection. Of course, you’ll need to be fluid during development as new ideas will arise and need to be considered.
- Select the most suitable CRM platform
CRM platforms are becoming increasingly complex especially where CRM vendors are acquiring and integrating other businesses to enhance their product suite. Purchasing a full CRM suite from a single vendor may not give you all the features and functionality you would get if you purchased individual best of breed products (e.g. sales, marketing, telephony, chat etc), but then you have the added complexity with integrating and managing multiple vendors.
- Find the right business partner
Take the time and feel very comfortable with a business partner as they will have a significant impact on the success of the end solution. When selecting a business partner, clearly understand your business drivers relating to; budget, your project team, stakeholder requirements, types of skills, experience, long term vs short term engagement, onshore vs offshore development etc. When reference checking, focus on work completed within the last 18 months and who on the project team was involved.
- Build your internal skill set
I will always be in favour of developing a strong internal skill set to support any business solution/application. A business partner has a key role to deliver new business solutions, but they need the support of dedicated and experienced internal resources. Depending on the size of your business, I highly recommend an operational role who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the CRM application – this role is the CRM champion who can focus on ensuring business utilisation.