So if you wanted to implement a CRM System that turned into a powerful business development tool leading to more revenue being brought into the firm and you have read my blog post on the most common reasons for failure. What should you do?
I would suggest the following simple steps be included in your implementation plan. There will be other steps but these are specifically intended to deal with the major causes of implementation failure.
1. Draw up a requirement definition document. This will list out all the features, capabilities and outputs the new system will need in order to meet your business needs. It should embrace all the key stakeholders such as the IT department, finance, marketing, business development and the users allowing each party to include their thoughts. Warning: don’t let it turn into a wish list (or worse a “wouldn’t it be great” list) and don’t design anything by committee. When it is complete get each of the stakeholders to sign it off.
2. Train your users. How can you do this before you get the system I hear you cry. Well, this is the crucial step because what you are doing is training people how to win new clients and increase sustainable revenue streams. Actively encourage people to use Outlook, or similar, as a pseudo-CRM system where they can record their thin and fat CRM data (see my blog post for more on this) and build a proper pipeline This serves two purposes: firstly it proves what a great tool CRM is to save time and achieve more results with far less effort and secondly it should create a hunger for a better system before it is delivered.
3. Establish a steering committee. Make it delivery focused and not just a talking shop or naughty chair. The idea is to identify, install and use a powerful business development tool so this committee will need strong leadership to keep it on course. Include the key stakeholders and invite specialists as required.
4. Seek out your new system. This is too complicated for me to cover in its entirety but these points are worth noting. Produce a suitability tick-list from your requirements definition document to allow the software vendors to indicate which of your requirements their system meets. Make sure they all fill yours in and don’t use their own format. Comparing responses is much easier if they are all in the same familiar format. Ask your suppliers to suggest the strengths and weaknesses of their competitor’s products. They tend to be lighter on the strengths but much more detailed on the weaknesses, often telling you crucial things that you would not have ordinarily found out yourself. Do a detailed gap analysis for each package using a weighting system if necessary. Take the one that wins.
5. Install and train. Once the system has been successfully configured (which may include some customisation but only that which is allowed through the system – avoid bespoke work to the core system) and installed you can start and conduct the Interface training; that is showing people how to use the system. This is usually the only training given but it is much less effective without stage 2.
6. Load up key operational data. Extracting data from accounts systems is usually very easy, as is loading marketing lists. My advice is to create a flat file which can be cleansed (removed duplicates) and then imported onto the CRM database. Get it clean before you load it. As for the rest of the data either hire a couple of temps and get them to load it by hand or you can get the owners of the data themselves to do it. If you have followed step 2 above they will by now understand the importance of the data and be quite keen to get it into the new system as quickly as possible. When the data has been fully loaded run more duplicate detection routines based on compressed telephone numbers, email addresses and names to identify and resolve any other possible duplicates.
7. Go live. You may decide to stagger implementation by department or by selecting those that were most keen during stage 2 above, or of course, you may just go big-bang. There are pros and cons with all options and you must decide what is best for you. I favour the second option.
CRM systems are a crucial aspect of any business development capability. Without them people will be disorganised, wasteful and generally ineffective and sales management will be almost impossible. Those CRM solutions that are installed properly can expect to enable their users to deliver more sales in less time – a worthy and noble objective and one that you are quite capable of achieving.