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Key decisions to make before implementing CRM for your business

The CRM market is growing, businesses of all sizes have started thinking about implementing CRM in their workplace. With this started happening, it is imperative to think about some of the key decisions that needs to be made before implementing a CRM solution for your business. Contrary to the same, I thought looking through the reason for the past failures will help us to better match what was done before and to what has to be done for a successful CRM implementation.

So lately, I’ve been researching and analyzing of why majority of CRM implementations fail and below are my key findings.

  • Lack of a proper CRM strategy
  • Management Only – Decision making
  • Lack of flexibility in the CRM tool
  • Budgetary Constraints
  • All at once mind set
  • Lack of proper user training
  • Improper Customer Data
  • Lack of Continuous Improvement plans

So, here are some of the decisions that your organization may think of to overcome the stated failures above,

Define a proper CRM strategy:

As we all know that for any long-term and continuous improvement system, perfect planning is the key. Likewise for a successful CRM implementation, a proper CRM strategy is the key and stands at the root. The most important of all is that your CRM strategy should align to the organizational short-term and long-term goals.

There is a lot to be discussed on this subject alone, I’ve decided to take this in more detail in the upcoming posts. But for now, take this – Make sure your CRM strategy is properly aligned with your organizational goals – Very Crucial!

Involve End-users also in your decision making team:

On a typical CRM selection and implementation process, the decision makers are mostly CEO’s, CIO’s, CFO’s and I.T.Managers. But, if you ask me that is not sufficient enough, we need some fresh ideas which your top management sometimes misses out. Moreover, the End-users are the one’s who are going to use the system. So it will be high-time to involve them and get inputs for the new CRM system. Evidently, this approach will also help in increased user adoption internally.

Opt for a Flexible CRM tool:

End of the day, an effective CRM tool should be flexible enough for the end-users to gain acceptance and yield best results. Flexibility in-terms of usage (User Friendliness), finding key metrics using Dashboards, better productivity with Outlook Integration, Offline capabilities and application extension capabilities. For all these, Microsoft Dynamics CRM would be a perfect fit as it is gaining more user adoption and not far away from becoming the market leader. Very importantly, it links very well with your MS Office Applications.

Budgetary Constraints:

This is very crucial and has remained a major contributing reason for CRM implementation failures for small and medium sized businesses over time. In many cases, a strictly defined budget hardly helped and mostly surpassed the defined budget with respect to hardware/manpower and maintenance expenses. That’s where many give-up with CRM incurring only loss and leaves the management unhappy.

If you drill down to the cause of the fluctuations in the budget – Lack of proper time management and planning tops the list.

If you are a Microsoft Partner and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is your choice, the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology gives you a strategic advantage in-terms of better ROI, reduced deployment costs and risks.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM (the power of choice) gives you an opportunity to look into their cloud solution CRM Online which gets you up and running in no time with an affordable price. It doesn’t mean that the On-premise version is expensive and time taking implementation process, both have their own needs and necessities (There are lot of factors to consider and decide upon in choosing the right model for your business). But maybe it is very much possible to start with an Online Model and switch to the On-Premise model whenever the need arrives.

This way, the variations in budget can be slowly waved-off.

All at once mind-set:

CRM implementation as a whole is a set of sequential process. To get the best results, one has to understand what are their primary business focuses are and thus define key metrics which has to be met by the system. Having that in mind, work on a plan to roll-out each modules in different set of phases giving you an advantage of looking into minute details which (if utilized) can increase productivity and gives you better clarity on the system-wide processes.

It is absolutely fine that your new system offers a variety of modules and feature sets and it is not necessary that it has to be implemented all at once rather take it through sequential set of phases.

Very importantly, identify and plan integrations (if any) first hand, this can save you a lot of head scratches and time during the implementation phase.

Proper user training:

Once we have the proper CRM system in place, the next major thing is user training.

As the name says its not just training the users on the available modules and show them on how to carry-out day-to-day activities by the user in the system. It’s more of sharing with them ways to effectively make use of the system. Make the training session as interactive as possible which motivates and helps the users to get the best out of it.

CRM Data:

Not the least but the best. Managing CRM data is more of a discipline and a responsibility of every individual CRM user. Moreover, CRM is all about customer analytics so it is highly important to ensure that your customer data is solid and reliable.

Imagine the productivity of your CRM system with incorrect/improper data, just like trying to reach a customer who never exist. Marketing campaigns and mail merges of no results – think of the efforts and the time wasted.

Yes, the customer data acts as a core in any CRM system thus data integrity is very vital.Data cleansing and preparing for data imports determines how successful your CRM system can turn-out to be.

Finally:

Monitor statistics and focus on continuous improvement plans:

Do you think that it’s all done once your CRM system goes live. Of course not, that is where the real success journey begins. Keeping an eye on key statistics and user productivity rate, companies should devise strategies on improving the results with the help of business intelligence tools which can lead your businesses to the next level.

A simple example would be incorporating social media with your CRM system – The next big thing for a CRM success.

Thus, CRM should be looked as a continuous improvement process/tool in any customer oriented business.

Happy CRM’ing!

Cheers,

Francis Edwin

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Categories: CRM
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