CRM Planning and Adoption Guide

In this guide, we’ll talk you through all the CRM planning and adoption steps you need to take in order to implement a successful CRM strategy.

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 that states where your business wants to be to overcome any of these internal challenges.

Think of the vision statement as a 30-second pitch for your project that will sum up its purpose and critical aspects in just one or two sentences.

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

Defining the vision statement should be a team effort. Your vision should be a business vision rather than a technical vision. It will often reflect:

  • The future direction of your business
  • Where you are now, and current market demand?
  • Your business 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
  • The standards, benchmarks and any other criteria that you use 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.

CRM Vision supported by goals

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

The goals of the organisation's executives will frequently include:

  • Identifying the most valuable accounts
  • Increasing the volume of new sales opportunities
  • Understanding the ROI from marketing activities
  • Reducing operating cost
  • Accurately measuring customer satisfaction

Focusing on the goals of individual managers these may include:

  • Identifying why deals are being lost and increasing win rates
  • Increase collaboration between team members, and with other teams
  • Ensuring Service Level Agreements are met
  • On-demand reporting across key metrics
  • Being able to easily create highly targeted customer marketing lists
  • Replacing time-consuming workflows

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

  • Online and offline access to customer, sales and process information
  • Single source of truth about customers, members, prospects & 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 is critical that your key executives are involved in defining this vision, that you document the vision, and that it is understood by and communicated to everyone.

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

Contact Preact

Contact us to discuss and define your CRM requirements and goals

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PART 2 - How to avoid CRM implementation pitfalls

Implementing an effective CRM strategy will ensure you will see greater productivity and better reporting insights that will translate into higher customer satisfaction and increased revenue. Get it wrong, and you'll have an IT system that is barely used by your employees and is a waste of time and investment. At Preact, we've helped many businesses rescue a failing Microsoft Dynamics 365 / 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?

CRM is notoriously tricky to deliver. Get it right, and you will see greater productivity and better reporting insights that will translate into higher customer satisfaction and increased revenue. Get it wrong, and you'll have an IT system that is barely used by your employees and wasted investment.

Studies frequently report high percentages of CRM& projects that continue to fall short of expectations, and for many project leaders it can often prove a bumpy process.

At Preact, we've helped many businesses rescue a failing Dynamics 365 / 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?

In this post we've shared the most common barriers to CRM success and how to effectively reduce these risks.

1. Lack of Research of CRM Products

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

But what previously worked successfully might not be so effective in another industry, or a within 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 key requirements against prospective solutions to finalize your shortlist and avoid choosing a system that won't be fit for purpose.

2. Complexity of large CRM projects

Large projects take time to get started and often never leave the planning stage. Prioritise the most immediate requirements and what level of investment is available to achieve expectations. Consider first introducing a new solution to one or two teams on a smaller scale that will lower upfront costs and deliver quick wins before embarking on an organisation-wide roll out.

Through careful prioritising, project leaders can focus on the teams and processes where a new CRM app will have the greatest impact – and where it’ll have the highest adoption.

With a manageable initial phase, streamlined projects can be more easily budgeted and get underway quickly to generate early results that will instil confidence and give businesses a solid foundation to build on.

Overcomplicating things at the outset creates an immediate barrier to adoption. Start with a simple role-based interface that reflect only the features that individual user groups need.

3. Failing to sell the benefits of CRM to team members

Few team members are likely to embrace the need for a new CRM solution unless they understand one key point. What's in it for them?

Specifically, they want to understand how a new system will help them and not just there to keep an eye on them - or to put them out of a job...

During the initial discovery stage, the message should be ‘We’re implementing a new system to make your working lives easier’.

Demonstrate in words and actions that their input at this early stage will be invaluable to making sure that the capabilities and functions that individual teams would benefit from is included in the choice of solution and system build.

For example, demonstrate how repetitive manual tasks could be automated to reduce effort so they can better focus time elsewhere. Similarly, how would their job satisfaction be improved if all their data was in one place?

Discover what is currently tricky or time-consuming for users today.

If initially sceptical employees can see from an early stage how a new CRM system will help them perform and reach their targets they'll be more motivated to embrace change.

4. Lack of executive support

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

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

If a new CRM system is to be ingrained into the culture of the business, leaders must be committed and conspicuous users.

During the project design process, some requirements may be in conflict with the result of delays and increased cost. Difficult decisions may be needed and must be taken with accountability from senior managers.

5. CRM projects run solely by 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 and are committed to the project.

IT teams should be fully involved but the project shouldn't be solely led by them. CRM is about managing customers, improving processes and driving business growth. Service, sales and marketing leaders have the most to gain from these improvements and should be included as the main stakeholders responsible for steering these projects.

Ownership and accountability for CRM projects should sit with its main beneficiaries. If teams who are expected to use CRM technology aren’t involved in the planning process and it is entirely left to IT, CRM will fail.

6. CRM projects that don't involve IT

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

IT can have a significant bearing on which CRM solution will be effective especially if an on-premise system is proposed. Although the majority of implementations are now in the cloud, there are often IT considerations that sales or service teams aren't aware of so make sure that IT are involved at the early planning stage to remove avoidable obstacles later on.

7. Poor data quality

If you are struggling with poor quality data in your current CRM system, 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.

8. Integration failure

An integrated CRM system provides a single location to activate connected processes across multiple channels which often span email marketing, finance and websites.

CRM projects won't fully deliver if they fail to account for data and process integration. Consequently, these doesn't tackle unconnected systems and the inefficiencies they create through duplication of effort, lack of scale and manual reporting.

Consider what systems your business users 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. To avoid this map out the information flows your business needs to run its processes from CRM. Visualising these flows allows users to highlight where blockage occur, and where integration can automate processes.

9. Scope creep

Once objectives and deliverables are defined there can be a temptation to address further requirements.

During the project, stakeholders may want to add capabilities that weren't previously identified during the scoping stage. Any added feature needs to be planned, fully tested and viewed in the context of the wider CRM business process. Late changes can have unintended knock-on effects and often mean that milestones are missed while incurring extra costs.

Some changes will be essential and dealt with through change control processes but once CRM objectives are set and documented with CRM partner, it is strongly recommended these are fixed. Where possible, plan your project in phases so that new requests aren't added ad-hoc, but instead built into the next stage.

10. Insufficient training and testing

CRM is a business strategy supported by processes and technology that is used by teams. Technology is a vital component but overly focusing on this part increases the risk of failure if similar attention isn't given to how supporting processes will be mapped to CRM, or in creating a user adoption strategy.

For CRM technology to be relevant the product must be personalised to fit your processes and the needs of the people who'll use it.

The level of personalisation will depend on your unique workflows and the capabilities of the solution you are implementing.

'Build it, and they will come' isn't a successful approach for CRM. Although teams may have been consulted during the planning process don’t expect them to be fired up and effective users from day 1. The goodwill created through consultation will quickly evaporate if people don’t understand how to use the technology.

User training must be built in but the amount needed is frequently often under-estimated. As well as delivering tuition across the main functions, group training is an ideal format to confirm processes and secure collective buy-in.

This isn't a one-off event. CRM training is a continual process helping users learn more about the product so they are able to increase their knowledge and do more with the system, and be repeated as new people join the team.

At Preact, clients use our Dynamics 365 managed service to schedule training sessions whenever they want to explore new features and help on-board new users.

11. Insufficient CRM training and testing

Once you have working system, begin a beta test with users – not just members of the IT team - before the ‘go live’. That way, if screens aren’t clear, if critical data input fields are missing, or process flows aren't consistent with their methodology – they can tell you early on what needs to be looked at again to make the system usable for them.

12. Lack of post-implementation support

Once initial training has been delivered and you go live, things can quickly unravel if users struggle with their early experiences and aren't able to find answers.

For projects that Preact deliver, we provide resources on-site to floor-walk and support new users by recapping training points, answering support questions and taking note of change requests.

Aside from this, successful projects will have super users across the organisation. These are ‘go to’ resources who teams and individuals can contact for internal help and support. These will be knowledgeable about the departmental area users work in – and understand the day-to-day tasks they encounter.

Super users will be able to identify what issues or challenges users are encountering so that project leaders can move quickly to review and fix these problems. This will go a long way to minimising any damage to user adoption or motivation.

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

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

What these numbers fail to highlight is a very crucial point. They refer to CRM initiatives that lacked an effective implementation strategy. Like most initiatives, 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 details 11 essential planning steps and advice for your CRM project

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

Video Transcript

close transcript

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

Implementing CRM

Many businesses increase the effectiveness of their CRM technology by utilising consulting services.

We are a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Partner where we will quickly deploy solutions to help your team implement the CRM and drive insights.

Preact will work with you to assess your processes and procedures to design solutions that address your needs effectively and economically. The result is reduced operational costs, better client retention and CRM driven growth.

Learn more about our CRM 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 goals – 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 to improve their productivity.

Your organisation must ensure the CRM platform is designed specifically to meet the needs of your users, to communicate the benefits, ensure they understand how to use the system and secure their buy-in.

Lack of user acceptance and internal support is a sure-fire way of seeing CRM initiatives falling short of expectations in the form of wasted project costs and demotivated team members.

With three decades of experience in CRM deployments, we have noticed some trends – common barriers to user acceptance that nearly all businesses face that we've shared in this free report.

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! Request a call back using the form below, and we will follow up.

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