Checklist for the Successful Implementation of a CRM System

April 19, 2019
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A successful CRM implementation will radically improve the way you communicate with your customers and prospects. A CRM is at the core of your business. You’ll be able to organize your sales pipeline, deliver top-quality customer service, and scale your business.

However, once your business has identified the need for a CRM, it’s important to launch it in the right way. Your company has likely invested a lot of time, money and work on this software, and you want to benefit from this investment.

Below you’ll find a quick checklist of what your business should do to prepare for your new CRM:

1. Identify the need

Starting a CRM project without a plan or understanding the reasons why it’s necessary is a bad idea. Most businesses realize that there are concrete benefits to holding all customer information in one system, but the overwhelming part can be figuring out how to proceed with implementing a project of that magnitude. In these cases, it’s helpful to understand why and be aware of the need, as well as break down the process into steps.

  • Consider the following questions when you’re doing this:
  • What am I looking to achieve?
  • What divisions are involved?
  • What is the budget?
  • Who is the lead?
  • What are the most important tasks the system should be able to accomplish?

2. Identify a CRM system administrator

The CRM system that you choose will need a project lead who is not only in charge of the implementation process but also the coach and cheerleader in the business. This person helps the organization plan and be prepared for every part of the implementation and is also the liaison with the backend of the tool.

The project leader is the point person for the system users, who will organize training and guidance. Without this person pushing the project forward and explaining every step, the chances of a successful implementation are much lower.

3. Manage the timeline

Before starting the process, you have to understand how much time you have to implement from start to finish. It’s important that the project plan fits in your organization’s timeline. The more important the project and the more people at work on it, the longer it will take. Identify on the timeline what the short and long term goals are.

Harriet Moore, a tech writer at 1day2write and Australia2write, says that “it’s crucial to remember that when you’re building the timeline, consider how many other people are working on the implementation and how much time they’ll be able to dedicate to the project, and clarify these expectations with the rest of the team.”

4. Define your CRM plan

Once the first 3 steps are done, it’s time to properly clarify and define the plan. Develop specific use cases for your business and its use of the system as it relates to every step of your business from sales to marketing to client service. Consider which features are most important for your business and most urgent.

Then, you have to think about how the system will be used on a day to day basis:

  • Who will be using it?
  • Who needs access and what levels of access are necessary?
  • How will the system integrate those teams’ current tools and processes?
  • Most importantly, how can CRM help their work to make it quicker, easier, and improve efficiencies?

When you define your plan, be sure to allocate time for user testing and training for every unit that will be in contact with it.

5. Find the right CRM

Choosing the best CRM for your business is a big decision, especially if it’s your first system. With so many CRMs out there: which one is best for your business? To answer that question keep in mind the following aspects:

  • Features: Depending on your business needs. But your CRM must offer at least a visual overview of the sales process, contact and company insights, deals and pipeline, and reporting dashboard.
  • The size of your business: there are CRMs for types of business. If you are expecting a quick growth, you might want to search for a system you can easily scale.
  • Price: There’s no need to spend a crazy amount of money on a CRM. Price and connectivity-wise, your best option is to go for a cloud-based CRMs.
  • Your industry: Keep in mind that there are industry-focused CRMs. However, your priority should be to make sure it has all the features your particular business needs.
  • Integrations available: This is key! If your CRM does not communicate with your other business tools, you will generate an isolated database (also called data silos). Make sure there’s a 2-way sync available for your business.

For more information on the best CRMs for you, check the related article below:

6. Develop the standards

Developing standards is key to make sure everyone understands the terminology you’re using. For customer relationships, everyone has to follow the same standards for classifying them and filing them. In terms of sales organizations, every step of the sales process needs terminology.

This is useful for having a definition for every term used so there are no discrepancies when communicating. This also includes standards of service, such as response times and customer inquiry resolutions, as well as standardization of branding, so everyone is using the same templates and signatures.

7. Stay in control of the process

Jonathan Woolsey, a CRM specialist at Write My X and BritStudent, reassures organizations that “there will obviously be unforeseen obstacles and variances in how the implementation is carried out - this is normal for every process, and can be expected and managed.

However, you need to control the process through reports, procedures, and alerts to track when the process is deviating too much from the plan.” Indeed, the sooner this variance can be identified and managed, the less impact it will have on the overall rollout of the tool.

8. Evaluate and reassess

During large scale implementations like this, it’s good practice to review your goals and your plan after every phase to see how your organization did and if you met the targets. If it was successful, that phase can be reused for other projects, and less successful phases can be tweaked accordingly. An implementation of this scale can seem overwhelming but by following these 8 steps, it should be rolled out smoothly and successfully!

About Katrina Hatchett

Katrina Hatchett, a language blogger at Academic Brits and academic service Origin Writings, is involved in various customer service projects. Her main goal is to define project efficiencies and provide guidance on process oriented solutions. She enjoys blogging on various business improvements to help companies reach their targets. She also writes for PhDKingdom.com blog.