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

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.

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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


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?

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.

Contact Us

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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