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CRM Implementation Best Practices Best Practices in CRM Software Implementation

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Enterprise CRM Implementations

CRM implementation in large enterprises is by definition a larger and more complex undertaking. While all the steps outlined thus far apply to any organization of any size, it is important to note the extra steps a large organization must take to avoid problems intrinsic to their company size.

Before actually implementing CRM software, the large organization must construct a supporting infrastructure consisting of personnel and processes in the following key areas: training, administration, information security, change management, data management, system integration, performance optimization, and technical support. None of these areas can be skipped or eliminated.

For example, there is no such thing as software, CRM or otherwise, that is so intuitive that training is unnecessary and no change so easy it needs no explanation or support. Build the supporting infrastructure before proceeding with CRM implementation.

Additionally, it may be too cumbersome and even counterproductive to poll every potential user for feedback during the CRM selection or implementation process. It may work better to poll department heads only or to ask department leaders to poll their staff and return a consensus to the CRM implementors.

Be aware that negative comments from early users may come more from a lack of training or a resistance to change than from a problem with the software. When you run into negative comments it is important to get to the root cause and clear the actual problem. This may mean explaining the software to the complainer or it may mean you need to tweak the application. Being able to sort which is the appropriate action is vital to the success of CRM implementation and usage.

Put a governance model in place for project management. Differing departments often have differing needs that can conflict with one another. Multiple stakeholders will pull the CRM implementation project into an unsolvable quagmire of difficulties if governance is not put in play first.

Business Continuity

As with all enterprise software and data storage, it is imperative that you have a plan for disaster recovery in place. In the case of on-premise CRM software this means you will need a method for continuous replication of data to a server in another physical location along with a process for cut-over or retrieval should circumstances warrant the action.

This is less of a concern with cloud CRM software in that the data is already hosted at a location separate from your company operations, and possibly in multiple locations. However, it is highly advised to review the cloud CRM vendor’s disaster recovery plans and to know from the outset how to retrieve your information during a crisis. You should be able to retrieve your information without help from the vendor and indeed, in the complete absence of the vendor. In other words, should the CRM vendor be totally incapacitated or destroyed, you should still be able to assess your data. Anything short of that puts your company at undue and unacceptable risk.

The true value of CRM is that it is a centralized system for data and analytics. That is also its weakness in the face of disaster. See to it that you correct this weakness from the outset. Backup your data regularly, if not continuously, and ensure you have a comprehensive data retrieval plan in place.

Information Security

Security issues will always remain a key issue with any technology and CRM software is no exception to the rule. Security issues differ some between on-premise and hosted CRM software solutions. With on-premise, security issues are much the same as they are with other business software your company uses. Apply security patches as necessary and as soon as available. Make sure vital information is behind the firewall and guard against mobile and remote worker vulnerabilities.

With SaaS or cloud CRM solutions, security issues are slightly increased as are compliance issues. Make sure you understand the vulnerabilities and assess the risks. It may very well be that a blended solution will better fit your needs and offer the best security. In any case, there is no such thing as a secure and impenetrable software system. Keep your guard up and constantly improve your security measures.

Measuring Success

CRM implementation in itself is not a measurement of project success. Successful implementation means the tool is ready for use but the job is not yet done.

Key performance metrics must be put in place to measure the tool’s impact on business objectives. Metrics can vary and measure anything from an increase in revenue, a drop in costs, an increase in delivery speeds and accuracy rates, improved customer retention rates, or increase in efficiencies of a process, to name but a few. In other words, the metric used is merely a reflection of the desired goal.

The use of metrics will keep you on track to winning the end goals that started you on your CRM mission in the first place.

It is important to continuously measure metrics to ensure your business is advancing and not stagnating. Therefore, metrics are not used merely during implementation but forever forward. Do not hesitate to add metrics or change them as the business needs dictate. End

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Differing departments often have differing needs that can conflict with one another. Multiple stakeholders will pull the CRM implementation project into an unsolvable quagmire of difficulties if governance is not put in play first.


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