You have probably heard of companies who invested heavily in state of the art CRM systems. If you are about to embark on an implementation are there things you can to do make sure you don’t fall into that category? It might be worth thinking about the following characteristics of successful CRM implementations. 

1. Prepare the business case

Projects are only successful if they achieve business benefits, so before you start, make sure you are clear on your goals. Ask yourself “why are we doing this?” and quantify the expected benefits. Build the budget using realistic costs and make sure you have a legitimate business case. Keep the focus on the benefits throughout the project.

2. Don’t be led by technology

These days, it seems like new devices are being rolled out every minute, and it’s very easy to be influenced by the latest available technology. It is important to have the right tools for CRM, but remember that technology is an enabler and should not be the driver of the project.

3. Get the users involved

Probably the most common cause of CRM failure is poor user adoption of the system. CRM is only useful if users are populating the data needed to drive business decisions. You need to make sure that the sales team are involved from the very beginning, defining requirements, selecting the suitable solution and designing a system that will work for them. If the users can see the benefits and understand what’s in it for them, they will be more likely to put the effort into entering and maintaining the data.

4. Never enough training!

CRM users often work remotely and sometimes alone, so it is vital that they are properly trained on how to use the system and on the changes to business processes as a result of the implementation. Start training as soon as possible, and develop clear and easy to use training materials in a format that can be easily referred to after go-live.

5. Consider where your users will be

The people you are relying on to use the system are usually on the road and in spite of advancements in mobile and internet coverage, there are still some problem areas. Make sure you understand when and where your users will need to access the system and make it as easy as possible for them to do that.

6. Ensure the senior team are committed

All business system projects need to have commitment from the top if they are to succeed and this is especially important in CRM.  This is a system that impacts the way a company deals with its customers and it is crucial that it fits with the organization's strategic direction. Don’t attempt to embark on a CRM project unless you know that the senior team are 100% behind the project and are convinced that the expected benefits are achievable.

7. Ensure integration with ERP

In most cases, CRM shares data with ERP customer master details and credit status are some obvious examples. It is also possible that the functionality to process some transactions is available on both systems. You need to consider the touch-points and decide on the best approach to integrating the two systems so that duplicate data entry is avoided while information is available when it is needed by the users of both systems.

8. Appoint a “champion”

When it comes to roll out time, you may want to consider a phased approach, starting with one department or business unit. Make sure that the manager of that group is willing to act as a “project champion” and then focus on “quick wins”. If the pilot group are publicizing the positive benefits, it will be a lot easier to sell the project to everyone else!

9. Don’t forget about data

For any business system implementation, the quality of the data is a key contributor to its success and CRM is no different. Start looking at data from the beginning of your project, identifying what you need, cleansing what you have and then migrating and testing it thoroughly.

10. Focus on the customer

The clue is in the name CRM is a system to help you develop, maintain and improve relationships with your customers in a way that is profitable for you.  To get the best from your system, you need to consider each interaction and touch point between you and your customer. Talk to them to understand how you can best service their needs and then make sure that the system supports you in doing just that.