Top 10 Principles for your CRM Deployment

With several decades of experience implementing CRM, you can only imagine that our team would have have a lot to say on the topic. Well, you’re in luck, as we have consolidated our thoughts in the below ‘Top 10’ list to help you and your team as you approach an implementation or are looking to refresh what you have today. While there is obviously a lot more to any given implementation, we believe these serve as a great starting point, independent of the maturity of your current deployment.

1. Your customer’s needs are #1 

When you begin designing your CRM system, we recommend walking a mile (or more!) in your customer’s shoes. Identify your customer’s journey: their intentions, motivations, and pain points. Addressing your customer’s needs should be the focus of your CRM. 

2. Gather user requirements where the action happens 

Make sure you document user stories and requirements where users will physically execute these stories.  This doesn’t often happen but it should. In certain environments, like a call center or medical facility, gathering user requirements in the field is especially important to ensure key data is not overlooked. This will also start your project off on the right foot. Also, mind the post-it notes you find along the way (on monitors, walls, phones, etc.), these typically serve as a catch-all for gaps in current systems.

3. Don’t sleep on UAT testing 

You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, would you? The same should go for your CRM. Conducting thorough UAT testing, with the system’s end-users, is a critical phase for each sprint. If possible, UAT testing should use actual data to ensure that the system is performing according to the required real-life scenarios. When possible, we highly recommend having your UAT testers along for the entire engagement journey.  You’ll incorporate their feedback from start to finish to ensure you’re delivering per the customer’s needs, and they will be more engaged and therefore perform a more thorough UAT. Win-win-win! 

4. Respond to questions and decisions when you say you’ll respond  

We get it—you have other priorities in addition to helping with the CRM system design, and there are only so many hours in a day. However, when clients don’t respond to questions and key decisions in a timely manner, the project often requires rework and an expanded project timeline. This costs more time and money. At the outset of the project, establish a realistic timeframe to respond to these questions and create a structure in which you can stick to your commitment. 

5. Clean data is a must-have before go-live 

If you know the saying “garbage in, garbage out,” you know what we’re talking about here. By implementing your system with bad data, you risk losing all credibility and momentum for your new CRM system. If users see inaccurate and/or duplicate records, they’ll be less inclined to use the system. It is common for an enterprise data migration to take two, three, or even four iterations to get right. Make sure you don’t leave migration testing to the very end. Additionally, after you go-live with clean data, don’t forget about data quality processes to keep it that way.  

6. Start change management from day one 

Change management may seem like the last thing you need to consider when you start designing your CRM. But, it’s actually a crucial piece to ensure the deployment is successful. By getting executive buy-in and support for the CRM from the start, they will be more invested in its long-term success. Part of the change management process should include regular, clear communication that starts from day one and goes past engagement completion.  

7. Understand that a new software system is not a silver bullet 

If your business suffers from low sales or poor customer service, the best CRM system in the world won’t fix your problems. After all, we’re technology consultants, not magicians! It is essential that you develop relevant solutions to address any business issues. This could be a new growth strategy to combat low sales or expanded training to alleviate poor customer service. A new CRM system could be integrated into those plans, but it’s not going to solve every business problem on its own. 

8. Leverage the new system to reinvent processes rather than just improve them

When you start a new CRM project, don’t limit your thinking to how you could improve your existing process with a new system—think bigger! Consider how you can meet your customer needs with the specific tools and capabilities that the new system offers (remember principle #1?!). Don’t be afraid to develop new processes, workflows, approvals, or even new types of jobs or departments. If it will improve your customer’s experience doing business with you, then it is something to consider. 

9. Don’t do too much all at once – Crawl, Walk, Run

When you’re designing a new CRM system, it’s easy to get caught up in all the glittery technology a new software system can offer. After all, who doesn’t like shine and sparkle?! But just because you can implement advanced functionalities doesn’t mean you should. This is especially the case in your phase one deployment. Instead, focus on customer needs, data quality, end-user experience, and change management for phase once. Doing so will help ensure your go-live is successful and users are happy. Only then should you start thinking about adding in more advanced system functionalities.  It’s important to not make this a “one and done” deployment.  

10. Focus your attention on hyper care to support your go-live 

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” This is true even if you follow all the principles above. While it’s impossible to eliminate all risk or anticipate all the challenges that may occur during go-live, the best thing that you and your CRM system administrator can do immediately after go-live is to address any user issues and feedback within days or even hours. By swiftly identifying the issue, resolving the problem, and communicating the solution, your end-users will be thrilled to adopt the system.  

While this list is not exhaustive of EVERYTHING you need to think about with your deployment, we feel this is a great start and should provide you with a head start to a successful deployment. Want to learn more, contact us!

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