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How to ensure CRM implementation success

Find out what taking on a new on-premise or SaaS CRM product entails, and what the benchmarks and best practices are for a CRM implementation success.

What do you think are some milestones in implementing CRM?

Whether you implement and administer your new on-premise or SaaS CRM solution yourself, rely on the vendor, or use the vendor's third-party professional services partner, CRM implementation success requires that you follow sound practices.

  • Define your objectives. Before you begin the rollout, take a step back and reconfirm the critical business objectives that the CRM solution will support. What do the executive team and your managers hope to get out of the solution? What are the goals of your end users? How do the corporate goals align with the business unit goals? Are there predefined metrics to track attainment of goals? How closely do the processes and applications map to the agreed-upon goals?
  • Build a team. A project team will ensure support and representation from each of the business units that will be affected by the implementation. There are four roles: 1) an executive sponsor to rally support and resources; 2) a steering committee that includes a representative from each of the user groups such as end users, managers, executives and IT; 3) a CRM solutions administrator with a strong knowledge of your business processes; and 4) a CRM vendor solutions developer(s) and/or professional services consultant.
  • Define the timeline. CRM SaaS solutions can be implemented in as little as six to eight weeks. But on-premise CRM solutions can take months to implement. It is a best practice to define a timeline upfront that outlines the major tasks, milestone dates and accountabilities for implementing the solution. For example, Salesforce.com provides a sound implementation road map identifying the major phases of the rollout over a six-week period. This time frame might seem optimistic, but one CIO told us, "I have found it to be consistently true that you can implement SaaS solutions within 60 days."
  • Define the scope and prioritize initiatives. Project planning has three major tasks: 1) conducting business process reviews with key stakeholders who can speak for the business organization to define the important business processes the solution will support; 2) interviewing key stakeholders to define key requirements the solution should fulfill and prioritizing these needs and grouping them into phases; and 3) modeling the CRM vendor solution to the business requirements.
  • Configure the solution for user relevance. The final step is to configure the CRM solution to the specific needs of the users in your organization. Map out current and desired processes, define the impact of business processes on the design of solution fields, records, and layouts and define a list of standard and custom fields per record. These could include field name, field type, and field values.

Submit your CRM implementation question to William Band.

This was last published in November 2009

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