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CRM Implementation Best Practices Best Practices in CRM Software Implementation

 

A Process Oriented Approach

Implement CRM software in a progressive, end-to-end, business process by process fashion. This means validating that each entire process works seamlessly and that user conditions are fully addressed, including efficient data entry, complete data views, on-demand queries, information reporting and a positive user experience. Test each process to ensure that everything is seamless, fast, secure, accurate, responsive, and tailored to the users needs. Then, do another test to weigh the same elements from the customer’s perspective.

Once deployed, follow immediately with a formal and complete testing process where changes are measured against specific business objectives. Test all features within the CRM software affecting each process. Change and tweak accordingly until there is a close or exact match between the results rendered and the stated business objectives.

Keep notes on what worked and what didn’t as this will be helpful in updating and implementing related processes. As each process is brought online, back up and check for conflicts between processes particularly where there are new or additional software integrations.

Set up a diligently scheduled program to test and monitor on a near-continuous basis throughout the CRM implementation in order to detect changes in your business processes early and respond with configuration or other adjustments as often as necessary.

Quilt, Don’t Patch

If you plan to integrate other software with your CRM system, quilt, don’t patch. This simply means to work your integrations pursuant to an overarching design rather than simply tacking on a patchwork of programs and applications and hoping it will all work out in the end. Patchwork programs inevitably lead to problems that are difficult to identify and costly to fix.

Without regression testing, a conflict in software integration can lie unnoticed until it is too late. Test all software integrations individually and collectively in order to establish a baseline. Then test all new integrated software and compare results and performance. You want to look for unwanted or problematic shifts in data, analysis, reporting, interactivity, or interfaces.

Do not assume that hosted, aka software as a service (SaaS) or cloud CRM, cannot be integrated with other on-premise or legacy software nor should you assume that such integration will be easier or harder than on-premise software. Hopefully, integration issues were explored and addressed in the CRM software selection process. If not, now would be the time to explore your integration options before you try to actually integrate.

It is highly advisable to do all integration testing in a sandbox, via virtualization or test environments so that you can correct problems before they occur system-wide or impact downstream production systems.

Inventory and detail all your integrations to aid in the continuous updates and new version releases. If you do not have a global design map and change control log for your system integration, much in data, process and/or time will have to be duplicated again later.

You may also need to produce this map if there are compliance questions or issues that must be addressed in specific detail. In fact, your integration map should be pinned directly to your company’s data privacy rules. Data integration maps are commonly requested during SOX section 404 audits and ISO reviews.

CRM Mobility

Another common mistake in CRM implementation is believing that the enterprise desktop version of the interface can be squeezed onto a mobile phone screen. In truth, a full desktop CRM application overwhelms the mobile user, impedes their tasks and delivers a very difficult user experience.

To properly implement mobile CRM, reconfigure the application screens to a smaller subset of the most salient fields which are more suited to remote tasks and able to accommodate phone or tablet form factors. This may mean including other applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and business intelligence (BI). The end goal is presenting the mobile user with an interface that contains only the information relevant to them while in the field. This will improve productivity and on-the-go flexibility while simultaneously updating the base CRM more frequently.

The age of homogeneous smart phones in a company is long gone. Today, mobile workers use a variety of devices and while personal phones help offset company training and hardware costs, they can pose difficulties in CRM mobile application development and support. Be sure to check with your CRM vendor on the best way to handle this as it varies from one CRM product to another.

CRM applications that are designed to operate on multiple devices offer the most flexibility but vendors that deliver a lowest common denominator mobile solution also generally deliver the least appreciated mobile user experience. Mobile applications developed for each operating system (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.) clearly deliver the most impressive mobile applications. Hopefully, your mobile needs were on your shopping checklist during the CRM software selection process. If they were not, and the CRM system you are using is not sufficient for your mobile needs, you may need to supplement it with additional software. Budget IT time and money accordingly.

Be careful to make sure the mobile applications support end to end processes. For example, a salesman in the field should be able to use CRM software to check shipping status, order status and product availability. If he can only place the order without knowing whether the product is in stock or on back order, the customer relationship can be endangered. Since the whole point of CRM is to grow customer relationships, ensure the mobile worker has everything at his fingertips to manage both the sale and the customer relationship. The same applies to repair and maintenance staff mobile CRM use.

Remote workers are not the same as mobile workers. Typically remote workers are stationary but off-site. Remote access can be achieved through a web interface or through direct connection to company servers, depending on the CRM system you are using. In either case, this will need to be designed prior to implementation to avoid security and compliance breaches. These issues will likely rise in priority given current employment trends. Remote workers are estimated to outpace on-site staff within the next 10 years. If this trend applies to your industry or company, plan for it now so your CRM is ready to grow into this shift.

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Inventory and detail all your integrations to aid in the continuous updates and new version releases. If you do not have a global design map and change control log for your system integration, much in data, process and/or time will have to be duplicated again later.

 

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