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  • Writer's pictureAlex Srebny

8 Steps to Successful CRM Implementation

The challenges in CRM solution implementation are significant. Most organizations do not start the process with sufficient planning. The success of a profitable business depends on strategy, not just technology. Exploring this issue further, we should realize the fact that a CRM system is far more than a set of tools for company operation.

In this guide, we will cover key points on how to plan the process of implementation efficiently and avoid mistakes that may cost you money and time.


Step #1. Define a CRM Strategy. Define Needs and Map Processes

Step #2. Select Internal CRM Team with Department Heads

Step #3. Find the Right CRM Solution and Implementation Partner

Step #4. Ensure Top-management Buy-in

Step #5. Develop a Project Plan and a Project Scope

Step #6. Onboard the Team

Step #7. Release Functionality Often and in Small Parts

Step #8. Continuously Assess CRM Adoption


Step #1. Define a CRM Strategy. Define Needs and Map Processes

The use of new technologies has always helped businesses stay competitive. Optimizing CRM without first mapping your processes step-by-step is impossible. If you don't first define your business goals and needs, it will be difficult to understand how any new technology meets those needs and helps you to achieve those goals.

Developing a strong CRM vision is the first and the most critical step to a successful CRM implementation. Doing it right will prepare you for the rest of the journey.

To have a successful CRM strategy, you need to determine:

· What goals you want to achieve and how to measure them

· What steps to take at each stage of implementation

· How your work processes will change

· How CRM will complement your business development plan.

Step #2. Select Internal CRM Team with Department Heads

The first step to a successful CRM implementation is to build a core CRM team. This group of employees will be responsible for the implementation of CRM and the correct use of all its potential in your organization. You don't need to hire new people to do this job, instead assign existing team members to oversee CRM.

It is critical to collect all identified end users such as sales, marketing, and service team members. Getting feedback from them will help you determine which features they need the most, how much training they need, and various additional data to introduce a new tool with ease.

Step #3. Find the Right CRM Solution and Implementation Partner

Modern CRMs are highly customizable, mobile-ready, and inexpensive to implement. It will be worth your time to showcase six or seven systems and check the links before choosing one. Consider creating an end-to-end solution. Successful implementation of this system depends on more than "plugging in" software.

Many businesses do not have the internal resources to fully implement CRM functionality and integrate it with existing technological stack. You may need a partner to manage the process in case you do not have the internal resources with technical expertise or the time to manage such projects. Choosing the right implementation partner is as important as choosing the right software vendor.

Step #4. Ensure Top-management Buy-in

Since CRM is a project that involves all parts of the organization, senior management also should be involved and inspire others. Top management shapes opinions and culture in the business environment, so their early involvement has a positive impact on the entire organization.

With their support in the early stages of a project, you can create a positive environment for everyone, and get additional motivation among your users. This way the requirements and activities of your CRM project will receive full organizational priority over all other IT-related tasks.

To achieve this result, top management must be fully engaged from the start, adapt the tasks, and change their goals and leadership tactics. Ultimately, this leads to a reformulation of the vision and corporate goals. Get your leaders on board!

Step #5. Develop a Project Plan and a Project Scope

Good solution implementation comes down to the execution of a project with clear deliverables and followed timelines. Your CRM strategy should include a solid plan based on clear results.

A phased approach often makes sense. Define scope that covers core business processes and implement it. In the case of CRM, it can be such basic functions as a contact database, history of communication, access to related documents and most relevant integration.

Then expand the scope, implement additional functionality, add different geographies, divisions, and line of business. Setup end-to-end integration.

In the end, continuously improve. Define solution roadmap, achieving process excellence with various tools that work as one.

Step #6. Onboard the Team

Before implementing CRM, set aside time for your employees to create detailed requirements for what you want to achieve, which processes to improve, rewrite or keep. Think, coupled with solution demonstration and existing vendor use cases, can help to avoid possible complications in the future. Your core project team should be fully engaged in the project implementation with the implementation partner, providing requirements, answering the questions, providing data, and testing the solution.

When the system is implemented, you can't just expect that the end-users will adopt it and accept it without any support. They will most likely need the training sessions to transition from the existing system and see the benefits of the new software. It’s not enough to record just a couple of short videos (although they are very useful). Employees may need a detailed explanation of the system’s advantages, a series of hands-on training courses, and ongoing support.

Please remember that not everyone on your team is a technical expert. Even if you choose the most intuitive and easy-to-use CRM software to implement in your company, having onboarding sessions and training your employees is essential.
  1. Invite your CRM vendor to the senior management team. Arrange sessions with the customer success representatives of your CRM vendor and ask them to explain how to use the solution.

  2. Organize a company-wide CRM implementation demo session. Tell employees about the benefits of CRM and emphasize the importance of up-to-date CRM. Demonstrate how the key features of the system work.

  3. Conduct training sessions in smaller teams and show how to complete specific tasks in CRM.

Training is essential in the following areas:

• Creating and updating records

• Assigning tasks

• Creating reports

• Creating sales forecasts.

Step #7. Release Functionality Often and in Small Parts

For the best result, the CRM implementation process should be divided into several stages. Such a gradual method helps to avoid or minimize potential issues, allows you to spot the bugs in case any critical element of the process has been overlooked. It gives you the opportunity to slowly introduce key elements of CRM and adjust them if needed.

Managers can gain insight into the process by identifying inefficiencies, areas where additional training is needed, or potential issues for the next phase of the rollout. This phased-release approach also helps prevent employees from being overwhelmed by the new system, greatly reducing the chance of CRM crashing due to low user adoption.

Step #8. Continuously Assess CRM Adoption

Once a CRM system is running in your organization, focus on monitoring, measuring, and tracking the progress. You can focus on benchmarking the CRM performance over time and correcting mistakes in relevant areas. This is not a one-time process; businesses must continually evaluate and keep records if CRM system exists. Revisit the system regularly and consider adding more advanced features such as automated email campaigns, integration with other systems, or forecasting.

The Bottom Line

Implementing a CRM system is not just about introducing new technology when you download software and click “Install”.

CRM is the embodiment of a brand-new way of thinking – thinking that a customer is being at the center of business with all information stored in one centralized database and available on the fingertips.

Implementing CRM - is a project that requires preparation, commitment, and collaboration from the entire organization. You should be prepared for many things, such as allocating resources, engaging people, developing a clear and consistent action plan and many more.

Get in touch

CLARITY implemented numerous projects and would be happy to share our experience with you and answer all your questions.

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