11 Ways To Ensure the Success of CRM Project

by Lyuben Georgiev

Regardless of the type of a company, good CRM practices are applicable in all economic sectors. Experts say one of the main principles to be followed is the orientation towards the client. In this sense, the company must not only reduce costs and increase productivity but also must improve the quality of customer service.

The project for implementation of CRM systems is doomed to failure if it is technology oriented, and not towards the critical business processes. To build a comprehensive picture of customer needs, it is necessary in the initial phase of the project to provide an overview of the business. Consider all that will be affected by the implementation of the system. Do they stand to gain or lose? Which business processes will need to reorganize completely, and which little? The failure of a CRM project is almost always due to inadequate aspect attention, so do not miss the following key points:

1. Provide approval from the management. If the management has no confidence in the new CRM system, how to convince the employees of the company? Approval of the management is important because it is a sign that the company is interested in the new project, which is an additional incentive for shareholders. In most cases, the only difference between successful and unsuccessful CRM project consists of a manager who has adequately defined the importance of the project and realized the problems that need to be solved and has devoted his/her time and effort to achieve the necessary results.

2. Ensure compatibility of strategies of different departments. Each department whether involved in marketing, sales, service or other activity has its own needs and defined goals. They all represent different parts of the overall strategy of the organization-oriented customer service. It is therefore important to ensure coherence of policies of different departments to manage customer relationships.

3. Strategy comes first, technology – second. Essential for the success of the project is the introduction of a CRM system based on changes in the efficiency of business processes and increase in revenues rather than technology. Clarify what aspects of activities related to customer interaction can help to maximize these parameters and select solutions that work in this direction.

4. Minimize financial risks. Essential in the project management is to realize that the implementation of the CRM solution is not determined solely by cost. Experts say the cost of maintenance exceeds the cost of the license 3 times. It is therefore important to account for cost periods – per month, per year. Assessing risks, the value of implementation and long-term maintenance than financial benefits, companies can take appropriate decision, which will shorten the time limits for implementation and will provide low initial cost.

5. Look for fast implementations.The causes of many failed CRM projects is limited to the fact that companies pursue more ambitious tasks than those which they are able to realize. Implementations of all sorts of functionality require significant investment in staff and reengineering business processes. Companies are not always ready for it all. In most cases it is better to start with smaller, easily achievable projects in which the benefit will be felt quickly.

6. Consider bypass paths. Find out what exactly are the IT needs of your company. For example, now you may only need a mean of ensuring accountability, and you buy a solution that is not expensive, but it doesn’t provide opportunities for integration with the system for e-commerce. Let your choosen supplier to provide such additional functionality in case you need one in the next 2-3 years. Select a supplier to ensure the growth of applications in parallel with the growth of the company. If in the process of planning the company does not build long-term strategy, then at a later stage additional costs will occur and more time for additional extensions and modules will be needed. So this is better to be provided at an earlier stage.

7. Clear the data. The availability of correct data for CRM solution is of strategic importance. Ensure that customer data is accurate. Many companies devote considerable time to implement, but missed this essential point that must be carried out even in the initial stage, to make sure that you have a realistic idea of your customers.

At the start of the deployment enter into a single database, clear duplicate information, make sure you have data on all aspects of working with customers and implement standards in dealing with customer data so that customer information across all organizations will be the same. The basic rule here is to provide enough space on the server to store customer data for 13 months and 3 years for basic information.

8. Get ready for a change. Businesses are dynamic structures – to realize mergers, acquisitions, sales, changes to senior management, to outsource activities. The company management must be ready at any time to meet changes in the project for implementation of CRM solution. The company may change their field of activity or change the project manager for implementation, as in this case is important to remember that all these changes have a significant focus on strategy for the introduction of CRM.

9. Do not delay training at the end of the project. Often some managers believe that education is the last phase of implementation. For this stage are spent less money and finally consumers receive the new application at the last minute. Provide consumers with as much time as they need to become familiar with the software before the start of the system. Training should start immediately after the selection of the system and its implementation partner.

10. Begin implementation of the department that welcomes innovation. From there it will trigger the so-called. “domino principle”. Nothing can contribute to the success of the project as much as if you provide a pilot department with the manager, motivated to win. Success can definitely be contagious.

11. Ask for expert opinions. Facing problems, whether in connection with the settings of the functionality or strategy to increase the number of users of the system. Companies usually assume they will sort them out by buying a new product or module. In some cases, this does not solve the problem and it may require quite different measures. Consult competent professionals before investing time and money.

Lyuben Georgiev is marketing consultant for one of the leading CRM providers in Europe – WebCRM. He is also available on twitter @lyuben88.