From company products to detailed projects to new memberships at associations, executives are always looking for ways to improve operations and increase revenue.
Increasingly, executives are looking to new technology. So they spend a bunch of money implementing a fancy new customer relationship management system (CRM). After this shiny new piece of pretty technology has been in use for a while, they are usually frustrated with the result. Why?
The answer usually relates to:
- How the CRM system was set up
- The way staff and management use the CRM. That is, if used it all.
CRM systems frequently fail because they are too difficult or too complex to use. They don’t provide near enough value to the staff for the effort it takes to use it.
- Define your process in advance. Document your business processes before you implement a new CRM. This idea isn’t new and it seems fairly straight forward but you would be surprised by how many organizations we help that still use old outdated processes. When asked why they do a particular task the way they do, the answer is “well, we have always done it that way”. Instead of keeping the status quo, attempt to dig deeper into each critical step and evaluate if that process is still effective. Defining (and often redefining) the business process in advance helps to best align the CRM to leverage your process.
- Define your process with no particular CRM product (or system) in mind. Whenever possible, attempt to flush out the true process from the technology. Doing this helps you avoid making assumptions of what a new CRM system can and can’t do. You will also steer clear of any outdated tasks or processes that may have been previously included as the result of limited functionality.
- Start with the end in mind. When deciding on what data to collect as part of your process, envision what you want in your reports and analytics. By working backward from reports, you ensure proper information is captured.
- Involve Key Stakeholders. The responsibility for implementing new software at an organization sometimes falls on the IT staff (the techie folks). There are many very capable technical people at companies, but the chances of aligning your unique process to the new system is greatly reduced if left solely in their hands. If a company has technical staff, they will at times want to deploy new software on their own. After all, it’s just software, right? In reality, that is not exactly fair to the IT staff as they can’t read the mind of an executive or a staff person. When it relates to rolling out a new CRM system, it is essential to involve key company stakeholders to help define the business processes. In addition to gaining involvement directly from staff and management, it is helpful to form a team that can accurately represent each specific area of the company as it relates to and affects the business processes as a whole. It is also important to involve and get executive buy in. Defining a key process with executive involvement helps provide clarity and transparency. Projects are much more likely to succeed with at least one executive sponsor on the team.
- Stay realistic. As they say, don’t try to boil the ocean. As it relates to the new CRM system, attempt to create a realistic process and KISS it (Keep It Simple). Once the process is defined, focus on the top success factors you want from a new CRM solution and organize the project around those drivers. If you think you are biting off more than you can chew, divide up the CRM project into phases with a more basic phase first that provides a foundation upon which to grow. Lastly, be sure to communicate to your staff realistic expectations and timelines. Staying realistic and setting clear expectations helps ensure user adoption and overall project success.
By defining your unique business processes, you can then configure and align your CRM. People tend to use systems tailored to the way the work. Teams can then better manage the entire process to increase sales, improve operations, provide better service, and position a company for growth.