Guide to CRM Planning and Adoption

On this page we’ll talk you through some of the planning and adoption steps you need to consider, in order to implement a successful CRM strategy.

Part 1 – How to define your CRM vision and goals

Part 2 – How to avoid CRM implementation pitfalls

Part 3 – How to plan a CRM project

Part 1 - How to define your CRM vision and goals

If you are embarking on a new CRM strategy, a crucial step will be to define your organisation's CRM vision.

Perhaps some issues your organisation faces include:

  • Unable to measure the value of each client account and personalise service accordingly
  • Lack of insight into what your customers think
  • Not knowing key numbers across critical performance metrics
  • Balancing the demands of improving customer experiences and controlling servicing costs
  • Needing to improve win and retention rates
  • Time being wasted through inefficient processes that consume too many resources
  • Managing disparate data sources

Defining your CRM Vision Statement

At the outset of a new CRM project, a clear vision should be defined. This will state where your business wants to be to overcome existing barriers and other challenges.

Think of the vision statement as a short pitch for your project that sums up its purpose and critical aspects in a few sentences.

By defining and documenting this vision statement you’ll have a destination and reference point throughout the project to steer decisions.

This should be a team effort. Your vision should be a business vision rather than a technical vision and this will typically reflect:

  • The future direction of your business
  • Where you are now, and current market demand
  • Your values - guiding principles of why you are in business and what sets you apart from competitors
  • The mission of your organisation
  • Who you want to do business with
  • Standards, benchmarks and any other criteria to measure success

What is your CRM Vision statement?

Whilst you think of a CRM vision statement which is applicable to your business, here are 6 visioning examples which you can use as a basis for discussion:

  • “Build and develop long-term client relationships by creating personalised experiences across all touch-points, and by anticipating customer needs and providing customised offers.”
  • “To implement a consistent methodology across all of our sales teams that encourages consultative selling with a systematic method to qualify opportunities that will be readily accessible to regional sales teams.”
  • “Engage our clients by personalising their journey with us alongside effective retention strategies as well as efficiently responding to leads to generate new client wins.”
  • “Create a hub for a complete, uniform and robust view of our interactions to ensure that our staff have the correct information at their fingertips when dealing with customers and prospects.”
  • “Have a clear structure and a defined process in place that enables our sales team to uniformly progress any opportunity from a lead to an outcome, and be able to report on this activity, revenue generated, conversion rates and pipeline.”
  • “Build a centralised and secure CRM solution that will provide long term scalability, meet our global reporting requirements, and help us maintain GDPR compliance.”

CRM Goals

Your vision should be supported by a series of goals.

In addition to the goals of the executive team these will span teams and departments in your organisation, so there will very likely be a variety of goals across these groups.

The goals of an organisation's executives frequently include:

  • Identifying the most valuable accounts
  • Increasing the volume of new sales opportunities
  • Understanding the ROI from marketing activities
  • Reducing operating cost
  • Increasing average customer value
Crmgoldss

Goals of individual managers frequently include:

  • Identifying why deals are being lost and increasing win rates
  • Increasing collaboration
  • Ensuring Service Level Agreements are met
  • Accurately measuring customer satisfaction
  • On-demand reporting across key metrics
  • Being able to easily create targeted marketing lists
  • Replacing time-consuming workflows

For end users, goals that support this vision often include:

  • Online and offline access to customer and sales detail
  • Single source of truth about customers, members and other contacts
  • Getting credit for work delivered
  • Reducing administration and simplifying data entry
  • Understanding which client service issues need to be resolved
  • Which sales opportunities need immediate attention

Consider your own goals and how you will use CRM to measure these?

It's critical that your key executives are involved in defining your vision, that you document this, and that it is understood by and communicated to everyone in your organisation.

By engaging with Preact we will help you achieve your goals and realise your vision through Microsoft Dynamics 365 and solutions built on the Microsoft Power Platform.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements and get initial advice from our consultants.

Dynamics 365 Scoping Consultancy character

CRM Planning Guide

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Part 2 - How to avoid CRM implementation pitfalls

The results from implementing an effective CRM strategy should include greater productivity and better reporting insights which translate into higher customer satisfaction and greater revenue.

But, get it wrong, and you'll have an IT system that is barely used which doesn't provide the expected return on investment. At Preact, we've helped many businesses rescue a failing CRM project and put them on the path to success, but what are the main pitfalls, and how can these be avoided from the outset?

Point number 1

Research

It’s always tempting to go with a familiar solution by implementing a CRM product that you’ve previously worked with.

But what was successful before might not be so effective in another industry, or in an environment with different challenges and business needs.

Consider who needs to use a new system, what data should be tracked, how it needs to integrate with other apps and what reporting is needed. Weigh these requirements against prospective solutions to finalise your shortlist and avoid choosing a system that won't be fit for purpose.

Point number 2

Minimise Complexity

Large projects take time to get started and might never leave the planning stage. Prioritise what's crucial what level of investment is available to achieve expectations.

Consider initially introducing a new solution to just one or two teams. Through careful prioritising, project leaders can focus on the teams and processes where a new CRM app will have the greatest impact and the highest adoption.

This will also lower upfront costs, deliver quick wins and instil confidence before embarking on a wider roll out.

Point number 3

Gain Team Buy-in

Team members are only likely to embrace a new CRM solution if they understand how it will help them, rather than just checking up on them.

During the initial discovery stage, the message should be ‘We’re implementing a new system to make your working lives easier’. Their input at this early stage will make sure that key beneficial capabilities and functions are included in the product choice and system build.

Identify what is tricky or time-consuming for teams. For example, how can dull repetitive tasks be automated to reduce effort so time can be better focused elsewhere.

Point number 4

Executive Support

Business owners and management teams have the most to gain from CRM success. With the prospect of better reporting, process efficiencies and increased customer retention, they should be visibly on-board when the case for investment is made.

During the project design process, difficult decisions may be needed and must be taken with accountability from senior managers.

Few things undermine a project as much as an executive who champions the need for a CRM system but doesn't support the project team in delivering their vision, or use the technology themselves.

Point number 5

Don't Leave Entirely to IT

Successful CRM systems are adopted throughout a business, so it’s vital that key people across these teams participate in the decision-making process.

IT teams should be fully involved, but these projects shouldn't be solely led by them. If teams who are expected to use CRM technology aren’t actively involved in the planning process, the project is more likely to fail.

CRM is about managing customers, improving processes and driving business growth. Service, sales and marketing leaders have the most to gain and should be steering these projects.

Point number 6

But Don't Forget IT!

On the flip-side, we’ve encountered projects that reached an advanced stage only to see plans delayed or deadlocked because of incompatibility between the proposed CRM system and internal systems.

IT can have a significant bearing on which solution will be effective. Although most implementations are now in the cloud, there maybe IT considerations which other teams aren't aware of. Involve IT in the early planning stages to avoid obstacles later on.

Point number 7

Don't Start with Bad Data

If you are already struggling with poor quality data, implementing a new technology won't change anything. This is the classic case of 'rubbish in, rubbish out'.

Before any data migration there should be a thorough audit and clean up process. Undoubtedly this will reveal actions to deal with scenarios such as data duplication, missing field entries and outdated data. If unchecked, dirty data will prove costly and undermine user confidence in the project.

Point number 8

Map Out Data Flows

An integrated CRM system unifies data to connected processes across multiple channels.

Consider what systems your business uses and how they should interface with a new CRM system, or if they could be replaced.

Whether it’s a single data source or several, lacking a big picture view creates more data silos and missed opportunities. Map out the information flows your business needs to run its processes from CRM. Visualising these flows will highlight where blockages occur and where improvements are most needed.

Preact number 9

Beware Scope Creep!

Once project deliverables are defined there can be a temptation to include further requirements.

During the project, you may want to add capabilities that weren't previously identified. These need to be planned, fully tested and viewed in the context of the wider business process. Late changes can have knock-on effects such as missed milestones and extra costs.

Essential changes will be dealt with through change control processes but once objectives are set, it is strongly recommended these are fixed. Where possible, plan your project in phases so that new requests are built into the next stage.

Preact number 10

Provide Ample Training

Technology is a vital part of CRM, but overly focusing on this at the expense of a user adoption strategy will increase risk. The goodwill created through consultation will quickly evaporate if people don’t understand how to use the technology.

User acceptance training must be built in and user training isn't a one-off event. This will be a continual process to support users in gaining competency and increase knowledge as new people join.

At Preact, our clients can access training using our Dynamics 365 managed service to schedule tutor-led sessions or use our eLearning portal.

Preact number 11

Test Before 'Go Live'

Once you have a working system, begin a beta test with users – not just members of the IT team - before the project ‘go live’ event.

This will provide valuable feedback to correct any issues before the system is formally deployed.

For example, if screens aren’t clear, or if data fields aren't formatted correctly or missing, or if process flows aren't consistent with their methodology - they can tell you early on what needs to be fixed to make the system usable for them.

Preact number 12

Post-Implementation Support

Once user training is completed and you go live, things can unravel if users struggle with their early experiences and can't find answers.

Super-users should be appointed who will be ‘go-to’ people for internal help and support. They'll be knowledgeable about the system and the departmental area users work in and the tasks they encounter.

Once the system has bedded in, super-users are the eyes and ears of project leaders. They'll provide valuable insight and updates about how the system should evolve to keep pace with new requirements and change requests from users.

Got Questions?

Contact us now, to discuss your plans and find out how Preact will make sure your CRM project is a resounding success!

Part 3 - How to plan a CRM project

There are some statistics for CRM that give it a bad reputation...

  • "70% of CRM initiatives fail to achieve their expected objectives" - source: Cap Gemini Ernst & Young
  • "90% of businesses can’t show a positive return on CRM" - source: Meta Group
  • "75% of CRM initiatives fail to substantially impact the customer experience" - source: Gartner

However, what these numbers fail to highlight is a very crucial point. They refer to CRM initiatives that lacked an effective implementation strategy.

Like any project, when it comes to CRM the strategy is the difference between failure and success. Without a committed and well-developed plan a CRM project is destined to fall short of expectations. But how do you develop that strategy? And, what support will you need?

If you are looking to implement a Customer Relationship Management system, our video below covers 11 planning steps for your CRM project:

Video Transcript

Welcome to this Preact presentation. The idea of this presentation is to equip you with some of the knowledge and tools …

Welcome to this Preact presentation. The idea of this presentation is to equip you with some of the knowledge and tools that you will need to prepare your company for a new CRM system. The presentation discusses the practical things you will need to think about with your team so that you're in the best possible position when it becomes time for you to approach a vendor to help with the implementation. At Preact we've been helping customers to implement CRM projects for nearly 20 years and so I'd like to think that we're in a good position to be able to deliver advice!

I've been involved with CRM projects since the late 1990s - most of the projects we’re implementing these days are Microsoft Dynamics CRM projects but this video isn't targeted at any particular CRM software suite. It addresses the topics that are relevant to any organization that is considering implementing a CRM system whether you have 10 employees or 10,000 employees.

Getting CRM right is tough and it involves quite a commitment of both time and money. An experience shows us that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time invested in preparing for the project versus the amount of money spent on the project, also versus perceived ROI.

For most people being put in charge of a CRM project internally is going to be a pretty daunting task. Typically an employee can be expected to be involved in a major project like this only once or twice during their career, so it's actually quite understandable that a sense of panic might start to kick in and the person charged with leading the project can feel a bit overwhelmed – to that we say don't panic! All you need to do is put aside some time for planning.

Winston Churchill coined the phrase “he who fails to plan plans to fail: Even now as CRM technology gets more and more sophisticated and project management gets more and more mature, it's still reported by various surveys that between 60 and 80 percent of CRM projects fail to meet their objectives.

It’s our belief at Preact that by just sitting down and making a realistic and methodical plan at the outset of any CRM project could easily reduce this figure by half. In this presentation we're going to show you 11 simple steps to move you towards starting your CRM project. There's nothing complicated about it - most of it is just common sense. The 11 steps represent 11 opportunities for you and your team to discuss various aspects of CRM to document them so that by the time you're ready to approach your vendor or supplier you'll be in a very strong position to express clearly your goals and expectations.

Step One. The first step is to build your team. You can call the team a coalition or steering group, it doesn't really matter, but this is the internal group of people who will steer your project. The members of this team should include a cross-functional representative of every department who will use or may use the system either initially or ultimately. You should include members from the sales, marketing, customer support, customer service, management, IT, finance, sometimes other departments too.

A typical team for a CRM project will have an executive sponsor. This is a board level person who is ultimately responsible for the success of the CRM project. A lot of CRM projects fail because of insufficient support for the project from board level. Having this person on board is crucial to the project - the executive sponsor needs to be kept informed at all times of how the project is progressing so they're in a position to make informed decisions throughout the lifecycle of the project.

You're going to need a project manager too. Now this role is also crucial - this is the one person who acts as the linchpin for all project communication both internally and externally with your CRM suppliers. The project manager is responsible for creating all the requirements prior to product or vendor selection, for organizing meetings, documenting and distributing the findings of these meetings, coordinating between team members, etc etc. The list goes on forever so here I guess what you need to choose is someone who's very good at organizing things and someone is a good communicator and possibly someone who's good at delegating.

You're going to need a nominated CRM administrator. You don't necessarily need to identify this person straight away but CRM administration could be seen as split between the IT side of things and the data side of things so this role often is taken up by two people. So from an IT perspective you'd be looking at licensing issues and client installs tech support and from the data perspective you'd be looking at things like defining and communicating data entry protocols, importing leads, global updates to records, creating marketing lists.

You're also going to need representatives of the different functional areas that are going to be using the system - your key business users. So preferably this is going to be people that are respected and liked by their peers that have a good experience of what's needed in each functional area. If you've got different sales teams operating in different ways you may need a person from each team.

The idea is that the person will have the knowledge that's needed from their area on what works and what doesn't currently work. Having people from each business area on the team goes a long way to improving the chances of your user adoption success, particularly if the people chosen are influential and you can get them on board as a superuser.

Another the key thing about the CRM steering group - don't just have it for the duration of your CRM project! This group of people should be meeting at least quarterly to hold a CRM review and to take your CRM strategies forward.

Step Two - Define your vision and set out your high-level goals.

Once you've got your team together you can start to look at some high-level goals for the new CRM System. This might be things like helping salespeople to easily manage and close opportunities, giving sales managers a complete view of the pipeline, providing a complete picture of every customer to those that need it within your organization or running and tracking the effectiveness of marketing campaigns or to provide better service for your customers. Each of these will represent the key objectives for your CRM system.

Everything you do will be in the context of these objectives. It's important to remember you don't have to do it all at once, after all you're not doing it all now. Each of these steps represents an opportunity to run a workshop on that particular aspect. Sometimes this session can start off a little bit wooly, but you can come back to this list throughout your preparation for your CRM projects and you'll be able to define it a little bit more clearly as you go along.

Another key thing to think about on this step is how you're going to measure whether or when you have met these goals. For example, if I said I wanted to provide better service to my customers, how will I know when we're doing that? One way to address this might be to use that ‘Provide a better service to my customers’ as a heading and underneath it lists some specific and measurable goals that feed into the overall goal. For example, ‘90% of service calls to be responded to within a two hour SLA’ or ‘automate monthly customer review meetings for level one customers’. It's important to know that your goals can actually be measured so that you know when you've achieved success.

Step Three - Prioritize your goals.

So in step two we defined a list of high-level goals and measurable objectives for your new CRM Project. In this step we'll take that list and we'll prioritize it. Sure, we want to do everything and that's okay, but where possible let's do these things one at a time. This creates a much more structured and orderly approach and allows you to focus on one area at a time and give it your full attention.

In most cases it starts with implementing the sales processes. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that salespeople are just about the hardest ones to get on board usually, so if we can get these guys on board we're over halfway there! You tend to find that because marketing people and service and support people are much more logical and practical kind of people you tend to have much less user adoption issues.

Where people try to implement everything in one go, we call this the Big Bang approach. This approach can work on very small CRM projects but obviously it still makes sense to try and roll out in some kind of logical order. So, when deciding on your phasing think about quick wins that you can build upon. Also, think about your resources. If you're trying to go live for example with your sales team and your service team, and they've all got new processes as well and try and do all on the same day, think about how overwhelming that's going to be. So, the result from this step would be to prioritize the goals that you defined in step 2.

Step Four – Identify your processes and pinpoint current pain points.

The next thing is to draw out your current processes. Now this can seem kind of alien to a lot of companies because they've never formally analysed or documented their processes before. But, if you think, every organization runs on processes. A simple sales process: a lead might come in from the web, or it might come in from a phone call. The first question to ask then is ‘do we treat phone leads any different to web leads?’ If the answer is yes then we need to draw the two different leads methods in two boxes, web leads and phone leads, and then show the paths that each one travels. It might be that after one or two steps they merge back again as an opportunity, so then you would have both boxes pointing into a single box called ‘create opportunity’ for example.

Also, when drawing out the process maps think about exceptions and make sure you have accommodated them. For example phone leads always go to Team A, unless the person is interested in our premium range when it goes into Team B. So we have to put a little decision box off to the incoming lead that says ‘Premium interest?’ with two lines leading off, yes and no. The yes line leads to team B makes a call and the no line leads to team a making a call.

Once you've drawn out these process maps go through them with all the stakeholders and then determine which bits work well and which bits could be improved or even automated. From these discussions you can draw out a second set of processes which will be your intended processes, so you end up with a set of diagrams for the current processes and a set for the to be processes.

There are many benefits to actually drawing out these process maps aside from any CRM projects. The act of drawing out the process removes any ambiguity over what happens during your sales process, for example, or during a customer service issue it provides absolute clarity for when you communicate with your chosen vendor or supplier therefore saving time and consequently saving you money. If you're still not sure how to draw out a process map there's plenty of good info on the web about how to draw one out. Just make sure you consult all the stakeholders who are involved afterwards to make sure that you've validated it and you know it's correct.

Step Five - Think about report outputs. Before we decide which field to put onto the various forms of our CRM system we need to have a think about the reporting output. Nowadays many of the CRM systems available negate the old traditional need for customized reports by providing easily created dashboards, charts and dynamic views such as the sales pipeline dashboard in Microsoft Dynamics CRM but it's well worth deciding from the outset what output the various departments will need from the system because that's going to affect what we decide we need to have as an input.

Even think about what sort of things the users would like to see on a useful dashboard, for example whenever you're designing reports for managers or for departments a really good tip is to always draw out the report on a piece of paper. This will help later when adding fields because you'll know then what fields need to be added to the CRM in order to produce the reporting requirements and these diagrams are also very useful for anyone who has to write these custom reports for your system.

Step Six - Fields and data capture. So by now we know what our goals are and we should now be very familiar with them. We pretty much know the processes that are to be mapped into CRM. Now it's time to think about the CRM system design and data capture. Don't forget, all the time you spend on this upfront planning you will be saving your company money by shortening the amount of time your vendor or supplier needs to spend conducting requirements gathering workshops and scoping meetings and alike.

Even though you may not have extensive knowledge about your chosen CRM products yet, you can still have a think about the various forms and fields that you'll need to be working on with your new system. For example, you're going to have to have a record for an organization or a company. You're also going to have records for context – leads, opportunities, possibly service cases and quotes too. Take each one of these entities in turn and decide what's the minimum amount of data you need to capture on each one. There's a difference between want and need so maybe prioritize as well here.

On a sales opportunity for example you might need the following: product range, line items, a time frame (a start date and an end date). You might want to allocate a salesperson, you might want to set a probability and an amount and a sale stage for example.

A word of warning: don't get too carried away because the more fields and forms and customizations that you create, the more user adoption hurdles you're putting up. It can also end up being quite costly to maintain and support if you over egg the pudding too. Albert Einstein summed it up very concisely when he said everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler. In other words, decide what's the minimum required to meet your goals and then implement that.

Step Seven - identify your data sources. In our experience by far and away the biggest cause of project delays is to do with our customers consolidating data ready to go into the new CRM system. It's very common for people to underestimate how long this exercise can take. There are various ways in which this can be approached, and this depends upon how much the customer wants to do themselves and how much they want to pay a provider like us to do for them. Probably the most cost effective way to deal with data imports is to ask your CRM provider to give you a template or templates that you just populate with your data and then they are ready to go straight into CRM. Sometimes that's not always possible and you may have data sitting in an existing CRM system, and in people's Outlook contacts folders, and in spreadsheets, so in various different places.

Once you've located the data you need to ask a few questions. How clean is the data? How old or how relevant is the data? How much do we want to import? We don’t want to take all this junk from one old system and put it all into our new CRM system. If we're importing history for example, how far do we want to go back? One year, two years, seven years? Have we got a budget for data cleansing? If not, who's taking on that responsibility and what are we doing about duplicates? Usually the initial importing of data can be quite challenging, so be prepared to work with your vendor or supplier to create a trial import for validation purposes before the actual live import.

Step Eight - What about integration? Integrating a CRM with other back office systems is quite common nowadays and can offer a huge return on investment by providing a one-stop shop for the entire customer view. Imagine the scenario: your customer phones up and he asks about his delivery, so you have to transfer him to the shipping department, and he wants to talk about his invoice, so they have to transfer him to the accounts team and etcetera, whereas if you had some kind of integration setup with the order management system with the accounting system you'd have been able to look at his record and answer his questions with one phone call.

Creating integrations can also provide useful insights to salespeople. If a salesperson looks at a company record and they can see what a person's been buying, they can then deduce what they're likely to buy, increasing their chances of sales success and thereby increasing company profits. Anything you can do to create value for salespeople is going to work in your favour, making them more inclined to want to use the system.

As well as providing views of data from other systems, the integrations can also be used to push data from CRM elsewhere around the company. For example, the creation of a customer record in the accounting package, when a CRM sales opportunity record is won, or syncing of your tasks in your appointments from Outlook to CRM and vice versa. You might also be considering integrating with a third party email marketing solution provider such as Dotmailer for example, so make a list of possible integrations, make a list of what are the benefits on each one, then you can decide if it's worth it.

Step Nine - Organizational structure, users and security. So, do you have regional divisions within your company or is it made up of various business units that work fairly independently of each other? If it is then do you want some or all of the data to be shared amongst these business units? How is it currently set up? Do you have teams maybe that work across the business units?

If you work in a smaller organization then some of these questions might not be so relevant, but this next part is. Think about the various different user groups and what levels of access you want them to have in your CRM system. For example are you happy for your entire workforce to use the export to excel function or do you want to limit this only to certain users or use groups? Do you want all the salespeople to have access to all the customer records or do they maybe just have access only to those records that are assigned to them? So when you're running this session think about everything to do with security users and user groups.

Step Ten - Assess the risks. The fact is every project has risks. It's often said that CRM projects are made up of three components; people, process and technology, and in order to have a successful CRM project all three components need to be a success.

The largest cog in this wheel is the people component. Now a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that a CRM project is just a technical project, when in fact the technical component is very often the smallest of the three cogs. So for this step assess the risks you need to think about or brainstorm all and every single possible risk to your project: all the people risks, the technology risks and the process risks. List them and then for each risk examine it and work out how likely is it to happen. You might decide you're going to use a scoring system where one is the least likely to happen and five is very likely and then to develop this further you might even add a second scoring system to assess the impact on the project if that risk does happen. For example, one doesn't have a big impact, five has a massive impact and all the way along the scale. This scoring system will highlight the most dangerous risks for you and for these you will need to come up with a workable strategy to deal with the risk if it should happen or to mitigate it or lessen the chances of it actually happening.

In its simplest form, you could just make a list of all the possible risks and then come up with a strategy for each one. A few examples might be that the risk might be the system design is too complicated to use so that equals a low user adoption - so our strategy would be to make sure that we keep the design simple, make sure the users are consulted.

We might have another risk where the users don't fill in records properly so we end up with bad and inconsistent data. Our strategy to deal with that would be to make certain fields mandatory and maybe create a data entry manual for users as well. We might have a risk that says that users are not motivated to use the system, so again low user adoption. Our strategy: make sure we sell the benefits prior to go live, make sure that we create incentives for people to use the system. I should stress that these are just examples that I've just thought of – you will need to spend some time brainstorming with your project team, what are the possible risks? Then for each one identify a strategy to deal with that risk.

Step Eleven - create a user adoption strategy. Now this step really follows on from step 10 which was assessing the risks, because one of the major risks in any CRM project is the risk of low user adoption. 47% of CRM vendors, that's people like us at Preact, recognize user adoption as the biggest obstacle to project success and customers recognize that user adoption is the number one cause of CRM project pain. Now there are several theories as to why this is and here's what I think is the main reason It goes back to what I was saying earlier about the project being mostly about people rather than technology.

Because a lot of companies fail to recognize the people side of the project, they fail to engage with people at all the different stages of the project. The key to increase user adoption is to involve as many users as possible throughout the project, from the very early stages where you can consult people and ask them what would they want from a system, if it's going to create efficiencies and benefits to them, right through to consulting them for you, through your user testing prior to go live, so that each and every process is tested by the person who knows the most about it.

The key is getting the balance right because you don't want a CRM designed by a committee where it just is over engineered completely, but that you do need to consult users as well so I mean simply put people have a fear of change and if you involve them from the start you tend to remove some of that fear and having the board level support for CRM is also critical for your user adoption strategy. Make sure that the directors are on board and excited about CRM.

You don't want your users to think of the CRM system as optional so carrots are always better than sticks but sometimes the stick is necessary. For example, your KPIs are now going to be measured from within the CRM system, in other words if it's not in CRM it hasn't happened. Other things you can do are to create super users who become the go-to person in each department for anything CRM and make sure when you're investing in training give the users more than one just generic training session. Where possible training should be role specific. Make a documented plan from this session about how you intend to maximize user adoption of your new CRM system and assign someone the responsibility for user adoption.

So, there you have it! 11 steps to prepare for a new CRM implementation. I mean it's a fair amount of work but having said that if you manage to complete these steps prior to implementing your CRM you stand a very good chance of being one of those CRM project success stories. It's all about managing the risk of course. We'll happily answer your questions and discuss your CRM requirements so please do contact any of the team here at Preact if you'd like to find out more.

Meanwhile can I take this opportunity to wish you every success with your CRM project.

Implementing CRM

Many businesses increase the effectiveness of their CRM technology by utilising consulting services. Preact is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Partner so we work with organisations to assess their processes and to design solutions which address specific needs effectively and economically. The result is reduced operational costs, better client retention and CRM driven growth. Learn more about our approach.

How to Empower CRM Users

Organisations pour tremendous amounts of time, resources and money into Customer Relationship Management systems with high expectations of increased sales, better customer service and improved operating efficiency. The right CRM system can deliver on those aspirations but only if one key component is accomplished: user adoption.

The greatest single contributor to CRM project success is getting users on board. Users must understand the benefits and work with the system on a daily basis if these and many other benefits are to be realised.

Your organisation must ensure the CRM system is designed specifically to meet the needs of users, to communicate the benefits, ensure they understand how to use it and secure their buy-in. Lack of user acceptance and poor internal support is a sure-fire way of seeing CRM initiatives fail, or fall well short of expectations, resulting in wasted project costs and demotivated team members.

With three decades of experience in CRM deployments behind us, Preact will help you minimise risk and support you in quickly achieving your goals.

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We hope this guide has helped you to consider some of the major factors when it comes to planning and adopting a CRM system into your organisation. If you would like to discuss your requirement’s or have an upcoming CRM planning or implementation project, then we’d love to hear from you!

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