5 Guidelines to Ensure Success for Your CRM Implementation

5 Guidelines to Ensure Success for Your CRM Implementation

Will your software upgrade be successful? According to some sources, you can tell by the flip of a coin — heads you win, tails you lose.

A 50% failure rate on CRM system implementations is a worrisome statistic, to say the least. That companies continue to attempt these software deployments is a testament to the value of CRM software and to each company's insight. The rewards that can come from a well-functioning customer relationship management system is worth the risk.

To help you hedge your bets, Richard Young has published an article on Bullhorn.com, pointing out the five most common tripwires for CRM implementations:

1. Too Little Leadership

The senior personnel who fully understand the business need to be involved in the software selection. It's fine to have junior staff do the legwork and prepare a list of options. But senior managers are the ones who know the company's niche and what the CRM system needs to do to help the company progress.

These leaders need to be active in reviewing the software option, including sending the research group back to the drawing board. They need to participate in focused discussions to ensure the best business operations program is identified. This will also set an example to the rest of the company about the importance of making the software deployment a success. These company leaders will be able to talk easily, clearly, and persuasively about the benefits that lay in store on the other side of the transition.

2. Too Few Clearly Defined Goals

When it isn't clear what exactly the CRM system will do, it becomes much harder to achieve success. This is why establishing specific goals is vital. The broad initiative of 'improving the customer experience' is an important direction, but doesn't give much for measurable progress. This improvement needs to be defined in more detail.

Rather than a single, over-arching finish line for the project, more goals can bring better results. As the first objectives are successfully accomplished, it can raise team morale and build momentum for the upcoming efforts. In essence, when you outline your goals, you can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of your project's success.

3. Too Much IT Involvement

This point is not to say the IT group (or expert) on your team should not be part of the CRM deployment. Instead, the role of IT personnel needs to be clearly defined. Usually these team members won't have the necessary understanding of the sales process and service levels to help with deciding which software to select. Once the sales and marketing leaders identify a short-list of CRM packages, the IT staff can offer input on technical details that may make one option a clear winner. And of course IT will be essential for the actual deployment after the best solution has been selected.

4. Too Much Inflexibility

Getting the software installed is only part of the project. After that point, the challenge is to get your team to use the application and integrate it into their daily activities. Ideally the initial discussions about the best software solution will address these vital concerns and the tool you select will support the ways your staff work. The worst case scenario however is to buy software that doesn't mesh with your team's current processes and then to force them to change what they do because the money has already been spent.

In contrast, when the end-user's workflows are part of the initial discussions, it can be easier to discuss how slight changes to the process can bring valuable dividends. And a quality business operations product will even allow individuals to accomplish their work in the ways that make the most sense to them.

5. Too Little Storage

This can be a trick question during the sales process, so be sure to exercise due diligence and find out all the constraints on each software package. You do not want to finish the deployment and then have a follow-up conversation about extra costs for additional data storage.

While storage space isn't a particularly sexy feature, it can be crucial. If data limits mean that some information is going to regularly be deleted from the system, it will be a hard choice to decide what to throw out. The information that sales people need will drive revenue, while the info that senior management needs will drive growth. Which can you do without?

The underlying principle from Young's article is that no company can afford to rush into a CRM integration. Success hinges on mindful preparation and follow-through.

The general process for purchasing business operations software — whether it is an accounting system, a CRM tool, or an ERP solution — is relatively the same. Each type of software is a critical investment in your company's development. Learn more about how aACE can revolutionize a business by reading our success stories.

"aACE is a fabulously refined program that is very easy to use. Been using aACE for the last 8 years and it's been wonderful working with them." ~ Bumkee Kim, Janibell Inc.

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