Customer Relationship Management (CRM) deployments can be complicated endeavors. Large companies can afford to make big investments in strategic analysis, customization, and training, but smaller companies typically don’t have the budget for these endeavors. Instead, they try to deploy a CRM application on their own with limited guidance. But, with even a small investment of time and money, any company can boost its ROI and achieve a successful deployment.
Successful CRM Deployment Steps
1. Ensure that you have the support of senior management and IT. Without their support, your deployment will never get off the ground. The rest of the company will typically fall in line once leadership has declared its intention to adopt a new CRM solution.
2. Gather requirements. Make a list of business requirements that your CRM system needs to meet and prioritize them. This effort will help you determine which requirements are absolutely necessary and which fall into the wouldn’t-it-be-nice category. Ideally, a CRM consultant will help you gather requirements as part of a Strategic Analysis (SA) effort, but if SA is out of the question due to budgetary concerns, you can complete this process internally.
3. Identify and document all existing processes. All companies rely on a set of processes that help move business forward. Part of initial deployment process will consist of asking yourself a series of questions:
o How do we collect leads?
o How are deals guided through the sales process?
o How do we maintain relationships with existing customers?
o How do we identify our most important clients?
o How are customer service inquiries handled?
o How are contacts stored and shared?
The answers to these questions and others will help you gain an understanding of your current business processes, and allow you to begin to imagine how a CRM solution can improve and automate portions of these business processes.
4. Conduct a Gap Analysis. Even in completely stock form, a CRM application is a tremendously powerful tool. It is important however, to identify any gaps that exist between a completely stock CRM organization and the requirements that you gathered as part of step 2.
Unless you have a CRM expert on staff, you will likely need the assistance of an expert CRM consultant to perform this analysis for you. While such an effort is usually part of an SA, more affordable options are available, such as the QuickStart Blueprint service from xRM.
5. Draft a configuration plan. Once you have identified any fit gaps, it’s time to create a configuration plan that details any custom entities (record types), fields, workflows, dashboards, reports, and code that need to be created in order to deploy a CRM system that precisely meets your unique business needs.
6. Configure the system. It sounds cliché, but every business is unique. Every industry has its own terminology and requirements, and every company has unique processes honed over time. No CRM application can address the needs of every conceivable organization out-of-the-box. Some configuration and customization will likely be required to address the fit gaps. One of the reasons that we like Microsoft Dynamics CRM so much is that is an extremely flexible platform that can be configured in a myriad of ways without the need for custom coding.
7. Collect and migrate data. Depending upon your current processes and the tools you use to store your data, data migration can be the most challenging and expensive part of the entire deployment. The cost of your data migration effort can be affected by a number of factors, including the size, complexity, and format of your existing backend database, as well as any configuration that must be done to CRM to support the data migration. Depending on the size and complexity of your database, you may be able to simply use spreadsheets to import data into your new database, or you may be looking a more extensive data migration effort. A CRM consultant with experience in data migration can help you understand the challenges and costs involved in migrating your existing data to your new system.
8. Test. The next step in the deployment process is to test the system before it enters into production. It is absolutely critical to budget the time and resources to test thoroughly before you go live to avoid the heartbreak of a production system that doesn’t function the way you expect it to. Once testing is complete and any issues rectified, you can throw the “go-live” switch confidently.
9. Train. You can threaten your end users with all kinds of heinous tortures, but they will be reluctant to adopt a new CRM system unless are comfortable using it. Give them the information they need to succeed. Take the time to show them how the new CRM system makes their jobs easier and consider providing them with both video and print resources that they can refer to as needed while they adjust to the new system.
10. Evaluate. The final step in a successful CRM deployment is to evaluate the system’s effectiveness. Evaluation is a critical and ongoing process that should continue for as long as you are using the system. At set intervals, you will want to ask yourself, “Is my CRM system still meeting my needs?” and “Am I getting the ROI that I expected from my CRM system?” If the “no” is the answer to either of these questions, you will want to investigate the reasons behind the shortfall.
At xRM, we live to help organizations deploy CRM solutions that precisely meet their business requirements. We have worked with Microsoft Dynamics CRM since its inception. In that time, we have assisted companies in every industry deploy innovative solutions that increase sales, improve customer service, and boost efficiency. Read about some of our customers’ success stories here.
Every xRM customer gains access to the Success Portal, a free online video training library dedicated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.