A to Z of CRM Implementation

A CRM implementation for any organisation is not for the faint-hearted, but by following tried and tested methodology, it can be made much more straight forward. In this blog, we’ll walk you through some of the key areas that can often trip organisations up when embarking on a CRM Implementation.

Analysis

Before you even begin to choose a partner to implement a CRM solution for your organisation, you should spend time and resources in analysing the challenges your organisation faces in dealing with your customers and with each other.

Perhaps some issues your organisation faces include:

  • Unable to measure the value of each client account and personalise service accordingly
  • Lack of insight into what your customers think
  • Not knowing key numbers across critical performance metrics
  • Balancing the demands of improving customer experiences and controlling servicing costs
  • Needing to improve win and retention rates
  • Time being wasted through inefficient processes that consume too many resources
  • Managing disparate data sources

Usually, analysis begins with senior management and key stakeholders within an organisation. These discussions help define the key requirements and critical success factors. Critical success factors are targets that the project is following from the beginning to the end.

During the proposal stage, they help decide whether a project component should be included in scope or kept out of scope. At the conclusion of the CRM implementation, these factors are used to determine its success. We recommend identifying both short-term and long-term critical success factors.

Budget and Resources

The main costs of a CRM budget are listed below – but beware as these are only the transparent costs. Underestimating resources and quality of data can be major pitfalls in a CRM implementation.

  • Needs analysis and vendor selection
  • Baseline system cost and contract terms
  • Training
  • Migration
  • Customisation and dashboard setup
  • Storage
  • Integration

Cost areas that are often overlooked are listed below. It is important that you are cognisant of these when you are building your business case.

  • Vendor support and professional services
  • Workflow creation
  • Ongoing customisation
  • Ongoing staff training
  • Staff overtime during implementation
  • Opportunity costs

We advise looking at the whole process from vendor selection to a full CRM implementation programme when allocating a budget. Custom CRM development can be a good idea if you know exactly what you need; this can be a good option even for small businesses

Communication

As with all key programmes, communication is critically important.

Set communication expectations for your CRM implementation at the start. When developing a project communication plan, the team should agree to some key questions such as:

  • How often and at what intervals should the team meet on a formal basis to discuss the project’s status?
  • What are the best communication approaches and times?
  • What are communication channel preferences (for example, phone vs. email)?
  • How can a project member properly communicate achievements, issues, and project risks?
  • How will the communication structure align with project roles and responsibilities? Whom should be included in which communications (for example, budget, task completion, and roadblocks)?
  • Status reports include what information?

Establishing a project communication plan is critical for relaying expectations and feedback among stakeholders throughout the project life cycle. Finding consensus around communication expectations early in the process will establish a strong foundation for overall project success.

Data Design, Mapping, Cleanse and Migration

Very few CRM implementations will be installed without some data import. Whatever your legacy systems, there is also likely to be degree of data cleansing. Information coming from accounting systems is likely to be the cleanest. Information coming from personal or homegrown databases is likely to be the worst.

Make sure your data is clean and ready for the new system. A regular data audit should be part of your CRM maintenance, but it’s especially important before you move to a new system.

Follow these 7-steps to make sure your data is ready:

  1. Locate all information across your organisation
  2. Prioritise the information by value to your business
  3. Remove any duplicate or incorrect information
  4. Resolve any conflicting information
  5. Add data where it is missing
  6. Create a uniform system for data entry
  7. Repeat audit process at least once every year

Data is the lifeblood of your CRM. The quality of your customer information impacts every role that is customer-facing. Spending time upfront in your CRM implementation to get your data right will be one of your best investments.

Executive Sponsorship & Commitment

Many academic studies have looked at what elements of a CRM implementation have led to the success or failure of CRM projects. Almost without exception, Senior Management buy-in, support and enthusiasm for the project was a key success factor.

Assign a senior executive who is committed to the project, stays informed, clears roadblocks, allocates resources, manages saboteurs (people invested in the status quo), and acts as a cheerleader for the project.

The day-to-day implementation and on-going running of the CRM implementation will reside with the project team, however, the Executive Sponsor does have key roles and responsibilities:

  • Obtaining overall board agreement on goals for the system
  • Involvement in partner/system selection, business case and sign off
  • Agreeing the functional priorities for implementation
  • Building Momentum – ensuring CRM goals, objectives, plans, benefits and progress are well communicated and understood across the organisation
  • Ensuring progress successes are communicated to the executive team effectively
  • Arbitrating on significant issues or scope changes raised by the project
  • Providing on-going support and motivation to the project team and teams impacted by the project
  • Continual review of the CRM system against evolving business plans and situations

Features and Functionality

Customer relationship management software typically include the same high-level CRM functions, however the CRM features that go beyond the basics are where your organisation can reap the rewards of the software.

Among the numerous types of CRM solutions available, every organisation will benefit from specific, must-have features.

At a glance: Top features your CRM should have:

  • Unified or 360 degree view of your customers
  • Customer life cycle and segmentation
  • Data insight
  • Supports measurable business goals
  • Communication and collaboration tools
  • Documentation library
  • Automation tools
  • Cross-device support
  • Template library
  • Customisation capabilities

You can check out our more comprehensive A to Z of CRM Features here

Goals

Once you have created a vision (see V) for your CRM solution, it needs to be supported by realistic goals that your organisation can get behind.

Many organisations have a top-down approach and CRM goals are established at board level and rolled down to the project team. Some CRM project goals are set at management level and some at a very detailed user level.

ALL are important. Analysing organisational challenges, functional requirements and aligning these to organisational strategy and priority will be key to a successful implementation. Boiling all of this analysis down into goals at a strategic, operational and tactical view can be really useful in onboarding stakeholders and end-users.

Help & Support

Choosing the right CRM provider can mean the difference between the success and failure of your CRM implementation, particularly during the implementation and launch phases of your project.

Once user training has been delivered and your CRM solution goes live, it is important that end users continue to have ongoing support, particularly in the weeks following go live.

For projects that StyleTech deliver, we can continue to support new users by recapping training points, answering support questions and taking note of change requests.

More importantly, successful CRM implementation projects will have power users and change champions across the organisation. These are resources who teams and individuals can contact for internal help and support. These will be knowledgeable about the departmental area users work in – and understand the day-to-day tasks they encounter.

Change champions will be able to identify what issues or challenges users are encountering so that the project team can move quickly to review and fix these problems. This will go a long way to minimising any damage to user adoption or motivation.

Once the system has bedded in, CRM change champions are your eyes and ears of project leaders as they’ll provide valuable insight and updates about how the system should evolve to keep pace with new requirements and change requests from users.

Integration with Key Systems

Which applications will your CRM need to integrate with? What direction will the data flow? If one of your goals is to create a single view of each relationship, integrating CRM with an external data source is likely to be a high priority. As well as feeding data from other applications, CRM can also push data to other sources, for example to create a new order in the back-office ERP system when a CRM sales opportunity is converted. Other CRM integrations can include email marketing, web forms, SharePoint and eCommerce platforms.

Your CRM solution will become part of your company’s suite of software — and this collection can be extensive, often involving dozens of applications. These applications can exist in the cloud and / or on legacy or new infrastructure.

CRM integration can connect each key application with your CRM software so that data can flow to, from, or between them. By integrating accurate data from across your business software will gain that elusive complete view of your organisation and your customers.

Joint Working

Whilst an organisation’s main purpose for using CRM solutions will vary based on its industry, every organisation needs can track information pertaining to each of its clients. Similarly, each department often requires customer data for unique, important purposes. This can include what products customers have purchased, who their account management team includes and what types of inquiries they’ve made in the past. With CRM technology, all that information is kept in one secure location, where everyone can access it. This can help organisations avoid miscommunication and improve visibility into each department’s role in the relationship.

CRM solutions were originally designed to help sales teams keep track of their pipelines, they’re now helping entire companies refocus their efforts. A company-wide CRM is, in many instances, the most useful tool for enacting a corporate cultural shift that will ultimately reap the rewards in the marketplace.

Collaboration and cooperation are improved by choosing a CRM that can get an entire company—including employees and departments with different goals and priorities—all on the same page.

By offering a centralised system that can be accessed by everyone in the organisation it becomes extremely simple to input important information to help manage the customer, assign tasks to another team, define what needs to be done next etc. You can ensure your teams are truly speaking to each other and working together, – to offer a far higher quality experience. In fact, through a CRM system you can manage and control all of your campaigns and activities, meaning that each member of staff has insight into the data as well as what’s working and what isn’t.

Key Stakeholders

A stakeholder is anyone that has an interest in your project or is affected or potentially affected by the project outcomes or whose input can impact the outcome.

Examples of CRM stakeholders in an organisation:

  • Project Leader
  • Executive Management
  • Senior Management
  • Resource Managers
  • Marketing Managers
  • Sales and Customer Service Agents
  • Customers
  • Selected Suppliers / Contractors

Stakeholders may also include entire departments in an organisation.  For example, a Sales Department can be considered a stakeholder as they could potentially be affected the most by a new CRM Solution. Carefully consider all internal and external users who have a stake in the success of your project.

Follow these 6 steps to ensure all stakeholders involved in your CRM project remain engaged and stay positively influenced by your project:

  1. Identify all stakeholders at the beginning of the project.  This will save you from ‘surprise’ changes of scope or agendas.
  2. Identify the leaders of the project. Who will they be?  There is a difference between who will be affected and who is leading the project itself.  Remember, “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.”
  3. Ensure all of your stakeholders agree on the project’s deliverables.
  4. Get a consensus from all the stakeholders on how to handle any changes that may arise in the project.  The bigger the project; the more changes are likely incurred.
  5. Practice good, effective communication with the stakeholders.  Agree on deadlines and determine what constitutes completion of a phase or deliverable.
  6. Keep the goals and the vision of the project visible.  It saves miscommunication later if one or more of the stakeholders change during the project.

Low Hanging Fruit

With any large CRM implementation, it is always beneficial to deliver some benefits to key stakeholders early on in the implementation if at all possible.

There are many ways that you can achieve this. Here are a few examples:

  • Identify a single department that represents a quick win for deployment and use them in the first stage of phasing. This can increase the chances of delivering a compelling impact that will make the entire organisation take note, as well as ensuring that there’s no loss of faith at executive level when the initial phases of deployment are undertaken.
  • Identify a report or series of reports that take an inordinate amount of time to produce each month and make production of these pain free and automated.
  • Identify a key process within the organisation that is very manual and cumbersome and develop automated workflows to improve efficiency and quality of that process.

Managing Expectations

We find that the word expectation is one of the most used during a CRM implementation. The employees have expectations regarding the “New System” and how it will solve some or all of their business challenges. The senior management team has expectations regarding return on investment, and the business partner or consulting firm has an expectation that the customer is prepared to implement and has allocated enough resources to do so.

In order to fulfil the above expectations, it is imperative that a successful CRM implementation is structured in a manner to achieve success. (See Project Team & Communication)

Needs and Requirements

The best way to understand needs and requirements is from the point of view of the individual teams and processes. From here we can begin to formulate the scope. Typically, we ask the following questions to make a qualified determination of the scope:

  • Do I need to increase lead generation? If so, look for a CRM that delivers strong and agile lead generation software.
  • Are deals getting stuck in my pipeline? If so, you’ll want a CRM with strong sales reporting, so you can identify where bottleneck are.
  • Do I need to better access my contact data? If so, you’ll want a CRM that provides easy access to a 360-degree contact view.
  • Do I need to increase efficiency across my teams? If so, you’ll want a CRM that can automate as many manual processes as possible.
  • Do I want easier access to insight around my results? If so, you’ll want to look for a CRM that provides customisable dashboards.
  • Which teams will be using the new CRM platform?
  • Which processes will be supported by the new CRM system?
  • What are the pain points of these processes at the current time?

We have to consider not only the processes that begin and terminate within the CRM, but also more extensive processes where the part which resides in the CRM is merely a sub-process.

During this stage, we already collect the functional and technical requirements for the new system. The output of this activity helps us define the scope and stage the implementation based on what the system needs to be able to achieve in the short term, and which functionalities we expect in the long run.

Off-the-shelf vs Bespoke Implementation

Many organisations, especially those who have a number of legacy systems and a complex sales or procurement cycle, are not likely to be using a CRM system straight “out of the box.”

Changes to the ‘standard’ CRM generally fit in two broad categories – configuration and customisation. Configuration items are those that are handled by settings within the CRM system. Examples of this would be setting up users and security, identifying system defaults, and changing configurable business rules. Every CRM system will require some configuration. If you want to pursue these tasks without assistance, administration manuals and training should prepare your CRM administrator for configuration tasks. Don’t forget that configuration includes security settings. Be sure to do some security configuration during this phase to make sure everyone can use the system appropriately when you go into production.

When it is recognised that there are a small number of clear alternatives in applying business rules, many CRM solution providers will implement them using configurable options that determine which rule to follow. These options allow solution providers to provide alternative business rules without forcing you to write custom code. Most options will use a default value for the configuration. It is important that the CRM administrator understand the various options and how they affect the operation of the CRM application.

Customisations are activities that require you to write or change code. In some cases you will be modifying existing code or you maybe adding new controls, forms or functions to the product. Your solutions provider will be able to assist you in any of these areas. Some CRM solutions take an extra step by allowing you to build new functionality within the system. This can be particularly useful as it is unusual that a CRM system will meet 100 percent of your requirements.

Solutions that allow creation of new functionality within the system provide a framework that ensures the new functionality is integrated into the existing CRM functionality. This is  where you can create CRM capabilities that will provide your company with strategic value and advantage. Customisations should be carefully planned to get the most value with a reasonable investment.

Project Team

Building the right project team will be crucial to a successful implementation of a CRM solution. Include the right people, give them the time and authority to complete project tasks, and make sure all team members are committed to the project’s success. This is particularly important in small to medium sized organisations where most or all of the project team will be assigned this project in addition to their existing duties. Make sure that team members are allowed to spend the appropriate amount of time to make the project a success.

At a basic level, you should include:

  • Project manager:
    • Though you may choose to employ a third-party consulting firm or the software vendor to assist with your implementation, there should still be a Project Manager from your organisation designated as the leader of the implementation effort. This person should be in a position in the company that will enable him or her to assemble the internal resources necessary to complete the project.
    • Project management experience is a must, and ideally they should have  experience with the primary areas where the software is to be used. The success of the implementation will have little to do with the technical elements and a great deal to do with business processes as they are implemented with the software. Therefore, a project manager with expertise in that area is a plus.
  • Application analyst: responsible for data migration and cleansing
  • Application developer: in charge of system customisation
  • QA test engineer: heads up testing efforts
  • Representatives from all key user groups:
  • Sales team
  • Sales managers
  • Marketing team
  • Marketing managers
  • Project managers
  • Customer service representatives

Going beyond this, it’s important to consider what each member’s strategic role in your CRM implementation project will be. Broadly speaking, you need advocates, specialists, and workhorses to make your implementation team a successful one.

The advocates are normally senior in the organisation and can articulate why the change is happening, there is almost always resistance, so these advocates should be able to sell the idea to the workforce.

Quality Assurance

A crucial step before go-live within a CRM implementation is that of quality assurance or user acceptance testing (UAT).

Ensuring that users who will actually be using the CRM system test actual scenarios from end-to-end is extremely important.

Does the system work to your expectations? If not, what isn’t working? This could be anything from a field that should be mandatory but isn’t to a certain industry-specific phrase not being correct. As every business is different and their needs differ, each system will have to be customised to those needs.

Once an issue has been found it will be recorded in an issue log, which the development team will then review and fix where possible.

UAT is there to prompt the user to find any faults and mistakes within the system before it goes live. Every organisation is different and they will have different ways of doing things. It’s common during this stage of the project that users start to realise all the little nuances of day to day operation which are not part of standard processes, and need a little guidance working out how these would be done in the new system.

Typically, a few people from each department within the organisation who will be using the CRM solution will carry out their day to day tasks and make sure that the CRM system performs as it expected to.

Ultimately, quality assurance confirms that the product supports the required processes specific to your organisation and that your staff can cope with “the new way of doing things” before you fully implement it. Once you know that it functions to your expectation, you can roll it out to the rest of the organisation. If you can iron out all the creases in the testing phase, then it will reduce the likelihood of issues being raised once the system is live.

Risks

Many of the risks in a CRM implementation are mentioned throughout this A to Z. Following the key steps below, will help to mitigate them!

  1. Clearly document your requirements and ensure that the CRM solution can meet these requirements
  2. Carefully plan the project alongside your implementation partner and ensure that stakeholders are bought into the plan
  3. Ensure you have your best people on the project team
  4. Keep all your stakeholders updated throughout the project and manage expectations
  5. Ensure that new ways of working are embedded with users and that they have bought into the project’s goals

Single Points of Failure (SPoF)

Single points of failure occur in most organisations, whether they be people, process or system failures. A CRM implementation is a great opportunity to identify these SPoFs and try to mitigate them using clean data, workflows, reporting and shared task ownership.

These SPoFs should be identified as part of the analysis phase of the project if at all possible so that they can be incorporated into the overall design of the solution.

Training

As mentioned earlier, training is one of the keys to CRM implementation success, but often it is an afterthought, and many projects look at CRM implementation success as being achieved when the software is rolled-out.

Do not assume that what appears to be intuitive to you will be so from the user’s perspective. Be especially careful when dealing with groups who have never used an automated product or with groups who have become accustomed to other applications that are less feature-rich than your new CRM product.

Train to your processes

A popular concept in the computing world currently is “use cases.” At their simplest, use cases are merely the documenting of how systems will be used. Earlier in the Implementation you were asked to define your business processes, these are the use cases of your business. Use this same list to derive your training objectives. For example, one use case might be a customer call to return merchandise and cross ship a replacement. In this case you would work through the steps in the CRM system and ensure that students saw a demonstration of this in instruction and later had an opportunity to practice this on the software.

Some other examples of use cases are:

  • Customer calls requesting additional documentation
  • Sales request for system requirements
  • A support issue emerges in a sales call to a current customer
  • A customer calls to request an invoice to extend their service agreement
  • A customer calls and indicates they have merged with another company
  • A prospect calls your general number to ask for information about your product
  • You receive a stack of business cards from a tradeshow
  • A customer is dissatisfied with your response to a support call and asks to have the call escalated

The mission of the training is to provide a preferred means for your company to accomplish these tasks in the software.

Put your team through rehearsals

Any training that you do should have practice that mimics planned use of the product. Such rehearsal will invariably uncover areas that need clarification or additional documentation and procedures. Once your team has practiced their jobs on the software in the more forgiving atmosphere of the classroom they will be ready for their real performance on the job.

Take the time to do it right

The biggest excuse we hear when it comes to training is that no one has time. Sales people are too busy chasing leads, support people are too busy taking calls, and marketing people are too busy creating and executing programs. Without appropriate training you jeopardise the whole implementation effort. Failure in the area of training will often put you into a situation from which you will be unable to recover. A few hours of time devoted to training prior to implementation will save hundreds of times its value in lost time later. Keep training In the days, months, weeks and years following implementation. Your staff will change, but your need for training will not.

Ensure that your training for new employees or those new to the tasks are as vigorous as the training you offered at the beginning.

Who will do the training?

First, you must realise that at least part of the training development will be your responsibility as you understand what you are trying to accomplish with the implementation of the software and you understand the processes of your company in conducting its business.

You can contract with the CRM vendor to have a professional trainer come on site to conduct training. Keep in mind that the professional trainer will still need to know enough about your business to mould the training to your needs.

A third option is to work jointly with the software vendor to present the training. Your trainer can address those issues and processes that are company specific and the software vendor trainer can address the general and technical issues.

Who needs to be trained?

The answer is: everyone who will use the software, although not everyone needs the same training. If you are implementing complete full CRM package, end-user training should be subdivided based on user type. Users who will interact with certain parts of the system can be trained together. Users should be trained on the processes and features that help them accomplish their role. Keep in mind that your CRM system is a powerful tool that has all the facility to take your business to new levels of efficiency, but only if people know how to use it.

User Adoption

One of the biggest risks to CRM Implementation success is low user adoption. Successful CRM implementation projects engage with multiple users at an early stage to consult for ideas and stimulate interest in CRM.

As we have already stated, visible board level commitment for a CRM solution is a crucial step but often project managers neglect to listen to user needs and fail to build support from the ground up resulting in challenging user adoption barriers to overcome.

It’s essential to remember that a CRM implementation project should only be considered successful if it meets the needs and requirements of its users. Technology can be an amazing enabler but without user adoption, understanding and support, even the greatest system in the world will struggle to deliver the expected results.

To develop effective user adoption:

  • Ensure users know why a CRM system is being implemented
  • Listen to user ideas, requirements and concerns
  • Deliver ongoing user training and support
  • Measure usage that focuses on positive reinforcement

Vision

If you are starting out with your first CRM implementation, a crucial step will be to define your organisation’s CRM vision.

At the outset of a CRM implementation, a clear vision should be defined that states what challenges you want your organisation to overcome and what the future should look like.

Think of the vision statement as a short pitch for your project that will sum up its purpose and critical aspects in just one or two sentences. By defining and documenting this vision statement you’ll have a destination and reference point throughout the project to steer decisions and additional requirements.

Defining this should be a team effort. Your vision should be a business vision rather than a technical vision. It will often reflect:

  • The future direction of your organisation
  • Where you are now, and current market demand
  • Your business values – guiding principles of why you are in business and what sets you apart from competitors
  • The mission of your organisation
  • Who you want to do business with
  • The standards, benchmarks and any other criteria that you use to measure success

Workflow Improvement

Using your CRM implementation to streamline your current organisational workflow and accelerate your business processes in a consistent way can add significant value to your organisation, your people and your customers. Here are some tips on workflow improvement and what to think about prior to an implementation.

Designing new ways to the implementation of to-be workflow entails creative thinking without any connection to the past. With ‘we used to do like this’ approach you won’t bring any of the expected changes into the processes despite the upgrade to a new CRM solution.

The value-added processes are the heart of your business model, so test the updated or newly-added ones in action to detect weaknesses, analyse in a little more depth to avoid any mistakes or failures. The involvement of the teams impacted by workflow changes in the implementation process is essential for effective input and designing a successful CRM implementation that actually works.

X marks the spot – When to Launch

The final step is to “go live” or “cut-over” into production with the new CRM system. This may involve having users stop using legacy applications that are replaced by your CRM system. Companies often keep legacy applications running after introducing a replacement system, but if the old system is still available many users will not switch until forced to. Understand why training before going live is so important? It is recommended that most users be “disconnected” from the legacy system at the point you go live. This has some risks, but if you have followed the guidelines in this document you will have mitigated most of the risk.

Yardsticks and Milestones – The Implementation Plan

Every letter within this A to Z should form part of your CRM implementation plan.

If we had to pick our top six to help your CRM implementation be a success and save your organisation a P.A.C.K.E.T we’d choose these:

Project Team

Analysis

Communication

Key Stakeholders

Executive Support

Training

Zero Defects

From a literal standpoint, it’s very clear that attaining zero defects is technically not possible in any sizable or complex project such as a CRM implementation.

The concept of “doing it right, first time” to avoid costly and time-consuming fixes later in the project management process should be a focus of the project

The zero defects theory is based on four elements for implementation in real projects.

  • Quality is a state of assurance to requirements. Therefore, zero defects in a project mean fulfilling requirements at that point in time
  • Right first time. Quality should be integrated into the process from the beginning, rather than solving problems at a later stage
  • Quality is measured in financial terms. One needs to judge waste, production, and revenue in terms of budgetary impact
  • Performance should be judged by the accepted standard

 

We hope you enjoyed the A to Z of CRM Implementation and hope that you are now armed with more information when considering purchasing a new CRM solution.

At StyleTech, we’re here to help our customers with their CRM implementations and guide you through the process from A to Z!

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