The Dos and Don ts of CRM implementation

The three letters CRM are enough to put fear into many people, particularly those given the task of implementing CRM into their company’s traditional business processes. There are no opportunities for a second attempt if the first one fails. Therefore a well thought out plan beforehand will make the whole process more efficient, and leave less opportunities for mistakes and regrets along the way.

Perhaps the hardest thing for some people to grasp at the outset is the fact that CRM is not a piece of technology, it is just a business process which enhances your relationships with customers and prospects. Technology merely supports this business process and makes it reasonably simple and straightforward to carry out.

So let me, as a vendor of Maximizer Enterprise CRM software, give you my list of likely issues which I believe you should address fully and frankly before you start shopping around for a CRM system. The more time and effort you put into this at the outset, the more successful your CRM project will become.

  • Start with a blank sheet of paper, and map out how you believe CRM will enhance your business and its traditional processes
  • Identify who will benefit from the CRM system, for example, customers, staff, suppliers, business partners, etc
  • Identify and document the measurable benefits you want to achieve
  • Don’t abdicate involvement and think you can just get in a consultant. However, don’t think you can do the whole project yourself. It is your business and your customers, so get involved and use external expert help to make it cohesive and viable
  • Get internal buy-in from those who will operate the system
  • Get external buy-in. Tell your customers about your plans to give them a better support service. Ask them to assist you in getting a solution which will be liked by the majority
  • Don’t be bullied by suppliers into buying everything now. Go shopping for all the functionality you need, but buy and implement it at a pace that is right for both you and your customers. Adopt an integrated approach
  • Expect to see increases in business and decreases in costs. If you don’t, ask questions!
  • Don’t expect your CRM project to ever be complete. As you implement its phases, your business will evolve and develop and you will in turn be asking more from your CRM. The project should grow because your business is continuing to grow

CRM products are not what they were 12 months ago. In fact the whole industry has progressed in such leaps and bounds that it is quite unrecognisable today from its guise then. CRM vendors and suppliers have also been playing a fascinating game of musical chairs as they jostle for position in this highly-competitive market.

Such is the recognisable importance of CRM in the middle market that some big players are trying to move down into it, smaller players are moving up into it, and new players are coming onto the scene as they spot emerging opportunities. But there is plenty of space for everyone – the CRM market itself is evolving continually and all players are able to fit neatly into its myriad of sectors.

However, there are also some vendors that are just too big to have the agility to come down into the middle market. The big problem for the big players is that to join the middle market they have to cut out functionality, whereas it is far easier for smaller players to add functionality to their products.

Yet where some of the big CRM systems end there is usually a broad overlap with the functionality of middle market systems such as Maximizer Enterprise. Therefore it pays to be broad minded when looking at CRM systems, because the best fit is not always where you expect to find it.

Just remember to keep your expectations of CRM realistic and reasonable. You need the right size solution, but one which is flexible and based on a building-block approach. That way you will pay for what you actually need now, yet know that you can add on functionality and users as your utilisation of CRM increases throughout the company.

The well-known big CRM names may be the top of many wish-lists, but when it comes down to the hard facts of affordability, rapid return on investment, and fast implementation, the surprising answer in the majority of cases will be to opt for lower-cost mid-market solutions such as Maximizer Enterprise.

In summary, affordable and efficient CRM is easy and fun to implement. So get involved, get a CRM consultant to advise, take it seriously, imagine and target for the benefits of CRM, and then work hard to make it transform your business so you can reap the rewards.

(Source : CRM Today)