When selecting a CRM system it is important to firstly realise that this is not about a comparison of features from the various software vendors but recognition that you should make decisions based upon an analysis of your own requirements. This is the first stage in any CRM implementation process and will include investigating the current processes as well as recommending areas where a new system can provide benefits. These requirements should be recorded and form the basis of a system specification document.
The second stage is to identify a shortlist of potential candidates and to circulate the system specification to this shortlist to establish an interest in the project from the potential solution provider.
The third stage is to complete a detailed selection process that may involve multiple meetings depending on the complexity of the project and should include the project team, business management and key users of the system.
The fourth and final stage of the selection process is to assist in the contractual and financial negotiations with the preferred solution provider. Once this stage has been completed it is important to project manage the implementation of the system so that it continues to meet with project timescales.
All the above stages involve very close project management and we have identified 10 key elements to successful CRM project management:
- Executive Support - the project may have been identified by a particular area of the business and supported by a senior executive, now is the time to make sure that all the executive team is in full support of the project
- Set Expectations - once the project has been clearly defined in terms of budgets, scope, staff involvement, business measures and expected deliverables it must be clearly communicated to all the stakeholders in the project. There must be a clearly defined method to communicate changes to any part of the project
- Create and Maintain the Project Plan - once the project has been defined a project plan needs to be created that details all the tasks and how they will be achieved in terms of meeting milestones and timings
- Project Teams - a successful project will be delivered by small functional teams that work well together. These teams should have the responsibility to make decisions for their area and be fully supported by the executive team
- Risk Management - in implementing a CRM system there will be a number of risks that must be clearly identified and documented. These risks need to be analysed by the project team in an attempt to reduce the probability and impact of that risk. There are approximately twenty standard risks associated with any CRM project such as lack of training and lack of end user involvement
- Scope Management - during the implementation the scope of the project may change, which is called scope creep. Once the project plan has been defined and agreed any change in scope must be processed through a change management procedure and approved before being released
- Quality Assurance - in order to ensure that the project is delivered across the organisation on time, in budget and to the required quality means that the system needs to be fully tested, procedures need to be documented and training material generated and delivered
- Communication - communication is key ingredient to the project, too much may switch people off, too little and people won't know what is happening. Different companies have different cultures so the communication plan needs to be developed by the project team to meet the requirements of the project and culture of the organisation. Often technology such as Blogs, Twitter. Facebook and SharePoint can help with these issues
- Change Management - change is going to happen during the implementation of a CRM system but if managed and communicated well to the key users then this change can be seen as a positive move and will be adopted and embraced by all users. If the change if not managed and communicated well then the implementation will fail as the key users will not be engaged with the new system
- Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) - during the early stages the project team and managers will identify a number of key areas were improvements will be expected. The KPI's will be measured before the implementation of the new system and measured some period of time after go live to see the improvements made
Project failure or premature closure is quite often the result of a number of factors:
- changes in a business's strategic direction
- lack of senior management support and commitment
- lack of commitment from project team members
- poor selection of project team and board members
- unrealistic delivery timeframe's and expectations
- lack of project management experience
It is therefore vital that industry best practice project management tools and techniques are used to ensure projects are delivered on time and in budget whist meeting the business objectives of the project. If you are looking to implement a CRM or ERP system then please contact us