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Five best practices for working with CRM consultants

Working with a CRM consultant can be challenging, but qualified consultants are a valuable asset for a CRM implementation or upgrade project. We've outlined five best practices to help you form successful relationships with your CRM consultants and system integration partners.

Working with a CRM consultant can be challenging, but qualified consultants are a valuable asset for a CRM implementation or upgrade project. We've outlined five best practices to help you form successful relationships with your CRM consultants and system integration partners.

 

  Best practices for working with CRM consultants  

 

1. Establish the CRM project requirements ahead of time.

Before choosing a CRM consultant, it's important for the company to have a clear idea of their expectations and requirements. Experts suggest taking the time to set requirements for the CRM project and determine which areas of the project will require the most help from consultants. Many companies then draw up a request for proposal (RFP) that details these requirements and send it to the consultants being considered. By making all of this clear from the start, both the company and the consultant will be on the same page going in. CRM expert Richard Smith offers advice on when and how to use a consultant for a CRM upgrade in a SearchCRM.com podcast.

2. Clearly define your relationship with the CRM consultants.

It's important that the consultant's role in a CRM project be clearly established from day one. By defining the relationship and setting boundaries, the consultant will be able to focus on the areas of the project where they are needed most. According to Forrester, failure to define the relationship with a CRM service provider and outline the consultant's role in the project up front can lead to problems. If the consultant isn't made fully aware of their role and the overall scope of the project, they are less likely to be helpful.

3. Selecting project team members: Get your best people on the CRM project.

According to experts, one of the most important things a company can do is get its best employees working with the CRM consultants. Involving the best people from both the IT and business side of the company ensures that there will be total buy-in for the project and a large cross section of skills that can be utilized. It's equally important that the core project team members be relieved from their regular duties so they can fully commit to the project.

4. Map out a CRM project plan. Document every step of the CRM implementation.

Having a well-defined project plan will help ensure that everyone involved has a unique set of responsibilities throughout the project. Experts suggest that the project plan be as specific as possible and include the names of consultants, each consultant's responsibilities within the CRM project, and due dates for each phase of the project. According to CRM expert Paul Greenberg, it's also important to have a plan in place in case the scope of the project needs to be adjusted as time goes on. In addition, documenting everything at all stages of the project can be helpful, says expert Sheryl Kingstone. If every procedure is recorded, this will reduce confusion once the consultants have moved on.

5. Own the CRM project from start to finish.

Many organizations fail to take ownership when working with consultants on a CRM project. Instead, they let consultants run the project and then may encounter significant problems once the consulting contract is up. Experts agree, taking control of the CRM project from day one will help ensure a successful outcome.

 

This was last published in June 2008

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