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Top 10 Factors Attributed to CRM Implementation Success

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I recently completed a salesforce.com Enterprise Edition CRM implementation and from that particular experience assembled the following top 10 factors for CRM Implementation success. For reference, several of these lessons are also referred to in the CRM Implementation Software Report.

  1. The most important factor for the successful implementation of a CRM solution is the understanding of the business itself and specifically how the business plans to interact and satisfy customers. CRM is not a software purchase. CRM is not an IT (Information Technology) application. CRM is a business strategy that uses IT and a Business Practice Solution as an enabler and driver to satisfy customers and grow customer relationships.
  2. Make a plan and follow it. The plan should be clear, complete and backed with disciplined processes including work-leveled resource scheduling, work breakdown structures, critical path identification, real-time visibility, constant measurement and deviation analysis. Know going in what is being done and when. Stick to timeframes and deadlines by diligently denying scope creep. The CRM strategy and implementation plan is every bit as important as the creation of the original business plan and must be treated as such.
  3. Assemble a CRM implementation with the right members, not the available members. Recognize that the ‘right’ members are in constant demand and will be the least available. Nonetheless, they are essential to this project and ultimately achieving the CRM vision.
  4. To maximize CRM implementation success, minimize disruption to the current business practices as much as possible. Plan the implementation in phases, achieve a higher number of smaller successes and shorten the time frame of the implementation. Show results as soon as possible. Few things will insure a successful implementation as quick results.
  5. Get customer input. While it may not be necessary to actually get direct input from customers in the form of a survey or other outreach program, it is a good idea to leverage the comments, complaints and recommendations from clients, and especially those people or businesses that are no longer clients, to help formulate redesign or process improvement areas that your CRM solution will address.
  6. It is imperative to choose the right provider and form of implementation. Having a software manufacturer that has taken the time to understand your business or a solution partner that knows your business and can deliver what you truly need, within the cost parameters that suit your growth model can make or break the implementation. Contract only with veteran providers that really know the intricacies CRM and have a strong track record with companies that are similar to yours. Seasoned CRM consultants will bring decades of lessons learned that will accelerate implementation progress, avoid pitfalls and ultimately achieve the business objectives.
  7. Gain early and broad stakeholder support. All staff must “buy into” the program. They must understand exactly how it will work, improve the company’s competitive position and benefit them personally. This is an early step in the change management process and will also help in each of the implementation phases in cutting down on wasted time, thereby increasing the efficacy of the implementation.
  8. Be a realist when it comes to finances and total cost of ownership (TCO). While software as a service (SaaS) implementations generally cost less, many costs apply whether the software is hosted or installed on site. Make sure that the cost of implementation is accurately forecasted, budgeted and within corporate means. Recognize that during the implementation the CRM software cost will likely represent about one-third to one-half of the implementation costs and that post implementation recurring costs will include the soft costs of user training, support and software management.
  9. Make sure that your knowledge workers advance from data entry to true information utilization. Data should be accessible to the parties involved in as ubiquitous a manner as possible. Also, verify and test the data is secured from those who should not have access.
  10. Recognize CRM success is a journey. Continual training, upgrades, new releases, new methods to leverage information and the like will present constant opportunities to evolve the CRM strategy.

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