6 Key Factors to consider with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Implementation

The success or failure of implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM is not hinged on one thing. It is a well-balanced mixture of business strategies, technology, budgets, change management issues, training, employee buy-in and so much more. Many organizations begin the implementation process with the idea that they are improving the technology, with little thought on how they will be improving business processes. However, it is important to realize that both will change; creating a 360-degree view of customers will lead to a 360-degree change in internal processes.

These changes will shine light on areas that are lacking in process; processes that are more complex than realized or processes that have not been evaluated to change with current business needs. Implementation of new software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM creates an environment of excitement for improvement along with rising concerns from employees and teams, needing validation on why they do what they do.

All of these moving variables need to be seamlessly balanced and managed for an organization to have a successful and effective lifetime adoption. Below I have pinpointed a few key points to keep in mind while planning and implementing your CRM:

  • Executive buy-in:An Executive buy-in is more than a “yes” to the implementation. It is a culture that is spoken, visible, and passed down throughout the organization. It is the executive level showing their investment with the not only the implementation of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM but the evolving life cycle of this dynamic tool.

During one implementation I had an executive member sit in on the training sessions for each department. She provided an overview of why the leadership team felt this software was critical to the success of their organization but more importantly shared the excitement of it going live with each team.

  • Liaisons by department:It is critical to understand that liaisons are a piece to the puzzle. Having liaisons that know their department’s processes and procedures as well as a good understanding of their impact throughout the organization are key. That knowledge along with the 360 degree view Microsoft Dynamics CRM is providing is what allows other departments to gage workloads and determine when and what role they need to fulfill in meeting and exceeding the customers’ expectations.
  • Business strategy first, technology second: So often now companies want to be the leader, thinking the way to do that is with latest cool technology gadgets and toys. In this case, it can be more detrimental to your company and your employees if you put the technology in place without having clearly defined strategies and processes in place.

I want to point out that at the beginning of an implementation managers always feel that they have this well under control but as you build out your new CRM, you start to see the missing processes that usually revolve around communications between departments. It is imperative that you evaluate and document what you currently have so that you can reference and build on it enabling gap analysis as well as leading towards solid training material.

  • Build a roadmap for phase implementation: During the initial stages of designing everyone agrees that the project needs to be done in phases and there is clearly a defined goal for the initial implementation. However, as you start working through your processes and you are getting feedback from liaisons and employees that initial phase starts to become a little less clear. Statements like “this is minor so we are just going to include this” or moving from an out-of-the-box implementation to “if we have development do this” start to derail your project and budget.

The goal is to stay as true to your initial phase implementation definition as possible. Your initial concept was what was thought out, debated and agreed upon as a team. Changes during the design sessions tend to be more emotional and on the fly to keep departments or staff happy. Some of those “quick wins” can be costly in the end.

  • Defining data for the new database:There are two parts to this critical piece of the implementation. One being a clear definition of not only what data will be imported but how far back. The second is scrubbing the data so that you are importing only clean data. The benefit of an implementation is having clean data for your company to work with. Cleaning up those data anomalies that occurred due to restrictions or requirements in the old system. While there may be some grumbling of not having all the historical data in one location you will see more accurate reporting and processing.
  • Training:This is one of the leading factors of user adoption for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. How often do you hear that “we are moving to a new platform because our current one was not a success and we have departments that just won’t use it”? Many follow the old rule of training right before implementing. This adds a lot of stress to end users as they typically get a day of training and then are told they are now using the new system effective immediately.

What is often forgotten is that throughout our process not only did we build a new system but we changed how the data looks, we changed how the processes work, and we created automatic processes along with checks and balances. We have evolved your end users jobs and they deserve to have these changes explained to them so that they are able to understand the benefits to their role within the company as well as have time to process the changes.

As liaisons and decision makers we spend months on an implementation and we see how simple entering data is or the benefit of a workflow is, not realizing that it’s because we have spent months on defining and creating these processes. Training is something that needs to start when the project starts. Having a trainer involved who is updating and documenting as we build, who is providing information or “lunch n’ learn” sessions throughout the process, training in stages so that staff gets to absorb process changes without the added pressure of “going live tomorrow.” For a successful implementation with high user adoption rate, the end user needs to be able to grasp the changes in their role through process changes, as well as, hands-on training and practice sessions so they are comfortable with their new system.

It is often thought that a new tool will provide leverage in the market, yet it is often understated the true impact these new tools have within the organization. You hear about how this tool will allow for great saturation of client data, dynamic reporting, etc. but it is rarely mentioned that if done incorrectly can cost you staff, customers, and efficiency. A successful implementation will not only improve your 360-degree of your customer but of your organization by department and as a whole organizational team. It will allow you to see gaps in processes, redundancies, and streamline communication between groups. The success is reliant on you, your organization, and the roadmap that you follow for implementing a tool that evolves with your business.