Whether you are new to the CRM market or, like many growing and thriving businesses, you upgrade as more efficient technology becomes available, you’ve likely called on reliable specialists to handle the technical side of implementation.
Working with a knowledgeable, competent software provider is certainly an advantage, but what can you do to make your implementation more successful? How can your business get the most out of your software? And what can you do to keep your costs on track?
Designing your business requirements and processes, setting forward-looking goals, and gaining user buy-in should be your responsibility. Without your – or someone on your team’s – participation, you risk ending up with expensive software that doesn’t address your needs.
Deploying successful CRM solutions, including those based on the Microsoft Dynamics 365™ platform, requires important decisions early in the project. Be sure to carefully define your business goals, evaluate potential team members’ strengths and weaknesses, analyze costs realistically, and be aware of the risks from poor CRM project planning.
Selecting the wrong internal project team can be a recipe for failure, so choose wisely when making appointments to this important group. For an organization with a few thousand employees and multiple business units with complex requirements, a 10-member team can be beneficial when a leader serves as the point person to the consultant. By contrast, a 10-member team won’t work in an organization with only 10 people. Although you might think it would be better to involve everyone, too many participants can prolong the project and set it up for failure.
Including employees from different departments can provide multiple perspectives on business processes and requirements. Consider selecting representatives from the executive team, the software users, and the managers who rely on the data generated by the users. Involving people from various levels and considering their feedback can improve the odds of buy-in at rollout.
When building your internal project team, try to resist the temptation to excuse already-busy employees from the team. Current process inefficiencies likely are causing their heavy workload, and their feedback could be critical to making the new process more efficient.
Selecting the right person to lead the project team is also an important decision. Someone who works on the operational side but has a direct line of sight into the executive side – such as the chief operations officer or operations manager – generally is the best choice. A person involved in all operational processes, including managing the employees who use the processes, is in the best position to communicate both with the executives and with the implementation consultant.
An effective team leader should be able to:
CRM implementation costs can vary based on the time your CRM consultant spends on your project. You can keep the costs under control by avoiding unnecessary fees associated with having the consultant do what your team members can do. For instance, while it might cause short-term disruption to take a busy employee away from his or her current role in order to join the project, you might save substantial money in the long run by doing so. Getting it right the first time is a win-win for everyone.
Without appropriate internal involvement, your consultants might make assumptions about software requirements and build those into the program. Once users actually begin to work with the software, however, they might discover that it is completely wrong for their needs. Someone from your staff who fully understands your processes and requirements could have provided feedback that would have resulted in a more useful end product. Instead, your consultant might need to write a change order and rebuild the software. When this miscommunication occurs, your company's costs can increase significantly.
Keep in mind that your CRM project is more than a technology investment. You can save time and money before the software implementation by investing the time to think through your business processes, requirements, and goals – as well as answering questions and solving problems. Not only is the implementation about the software – it’s also about your business processes and how to improve them.
Effective software implementation requires collaboration with appropriate internal resources. To be successful, a company must create a diverse project team with a single leader who can govern stakeholder requirements, manage the project schedule, and make business decisions that help set the right direction.
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