If you’ve decided to start using CRM software in your business, one of the most important parts of the process is the initial implementation. Ensuring that you’re well prepared for the project will allow you to get the most benefit with minimal disruption to your business. With this in mind, below are 10 tips for ensuring your CRM implementation is a success.
1. Assign a project manager – Assigning a project manager is always advisable when implementing a new CRM, or indeed any business critical system. You need someone to lead the project, and the team, who is aware of the key steps involved and will keep people motivated and on task. A good project manager will encourage participation from other team members, especially in the planning stages of the implementation. This means that every member of the team should be clear on exactly what their role is and what the key stages of the implementation will be.
2. Utilise key staff members – Your staff are a big asset and can help ensure that the implementation of your CRM system is a success. You should get key members of your staff on board early – this way they’ll not only be able to offer advice to other members of staff on how to use the new software, they’ll also act as advocates for it. For clarity, these are the people who you would miss the most. Whilst this may have a greater impact on your business at the time, it will pay dividends in the future.
3. Achieve employee buy-in – It’s important to ensure that your employees understand why you are making this transition and that they don’t just see CRM as a sales tool. Instead, make sure they understand how it can help them with their own roles and why it is important for the business. Finally, make sure they embrace the core concept behind it i.e. taking a customer-centric approach. This way, you will experience less resistance to the change.
4. Understand your key business processes – It’s not unusual for larger organisations to be segregated, with no one person having a clear understanding of every single process. Before you implement your new CRM software, make sure you have a clear understanding of the business processes that will utilise the system.
5. Take the opportunity to improve your business processes – Sit down with key members of staff to review how things work, and then streamline and improve any cumbersome processes before everyone gets started with using the new system. Make sure that you discuss with your solution provider how your business processes work currently and how you want them to work. It might be that they could offer a solution that you hadn’t thought of, or that might be a more appropriate use of the technology you have chosen.
6. Break the implementation into phases – Depending on the complexity and size of the implementation it may be advisable to break the CRM implementation into phases; this will make the project a lot more manageable. You can tackle multiple phases at once if you prefer, as long as there’s a clear structure and timeline in place.
7. Allow enough time to migrate existing data – It’s very easy to underestimate the amount of time needed to migrate any existing data to the new system, whether this is from spreadsheets, handwritten notes, or an existing CRM system. It’s important to allow plenty of time for this; you should go through and clean your data first to ensure it’s up to date and free of duplication. You must also ensure that the correct information is in the correct fields and syntax for migrating to the new system. For example, no ‘same as above’ in a phone number field, or other similar inputs.
8. Timing is important – When it comes to migrating your data and implementing your new system, make sure you choose the best possible time to do this. Choose a quieter period if possible, or at least a time when you have plenty of key staff available to help if needed. This may require you to block out a period of time when those staff cannot take holidays. Making the change during one of your busiest times will be stressful for everyone involved, and you will likely see more resistance from your staff.
9. Make staff training a priority – One of the best ways to ensure that your CRM implementation is a success and to achieve employee buy-in is to train your staff well on the new system. Schedule quality training time at the beginning and this will pay dividends in the long term. There are a few options here – your solution provider could provide virtual or face-to-face individual or group training, or you could opt for a train-the-trainer approach.
10. Only launch when you’re ready – Setting a strict deadline for your CRM launch might seem like a good idea, but it is best to choose a planned launch date and remain flexible. This enables you to plan your timelines and keep your project on target, but being a bit flexible can take the pressure off. If there are key parts of the implementation that haven’t been addressed then there’s no shame in pushing it back a few weeks. It’s better to do the implementation properly than to rush it and not be happy with the results.
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