Which CRM implementation services should you consider?

Many companies don’t have the in-house expertise to implement their new CRM in the best way. Setting up a CRM is complex, has many variables and often goes over budget and time. When implementing a CRM you can fail in a number of ways, broadly categorized as:

  • Total Fail – the CRM system process is so utterly mismanaged that you never get a usable system up and running.
  • Messily Mediocre – you get the CRM up and running but it takes a lot of time and effort. The CRM is working but is full of bugs and not providing the efficiencies required. You can muddle by but it is miles away from optimal.
  • Good but not Great – the CRM is working well. People seem happy and they are enjoying some efficiencies. However, you aren’t using a lot of the features which could really supercharge your CRM.

Most CRM setups fall into one of these categories, messily mediocre being the most common. A total fail is damaging but at least you can start again, whereas messily mediocre and good but not great are particularly dangerous because bad implementation can then cost you in the long term. Often companies see the CRM set up as a sunk cost and then move forward with a suboptimal system for months, years or decades. With more deliberate thinking up front this can be mitigated.

Install your CRM successfully with this seven-step guide to CRM implementation success

A CRM vendor implementation service is where someone helps you set up the CRM. Most CRM vendors have an in-house service and you can also hire outside consultants. When considering using an in-house service beware of the impact this can have on budget. Some CRM vendors will do a lot for nothing and others will have a high rate. External consultants obviously carry an extra fee so make sure you are budgeting for the implementation support and are in a position to compare the alternatives.

What can CRM implementation services do for you?

An implementation service will help in a number of important ways:

  • Software selection – if you are using in independent consultant they will start right from the beginning and think about which CRM suits you best.
  • Requirements collection – A good implementation service will spend time understanding your business requirements and help you distil these into a structure which helps make critical implementation decisions. For example, looking at how a sales team is going to be assessed will help pull together the best dashboard for the sales manager.
  • Setup – some implementation services will then provide a project manager who will sit through the stages of implementation. This will cover everything from data migration to setting up the architecture to managing the building of custom applications.
  • Roll out – managing how the new CRM is rolled out to employees and how issues and problems are managed can be a large part of the implementation process. In reality this is often the hardest part because theory becomes practice and it’s very hard to predict how people are going to react to a new system.
  • Customization – as mentioned, the database may need a high degree of customization so it can meet the business needs.
  • Forward planning – once the system is in place there should be a plan in place which monitors usage, effectiveness and provides a roadmap for future changes. This part of it is often overlooked but is an important way to maximise value from the CRM.

Unless you have expertise in-house, putting budget aside for a vendor implementation service is important because otherwise you run the risk of ending up Messily Mediocre.

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Doug Haines

About the author…

Doug Haines has worked on a variety of CRM implementation projects and now writes on a wide range of topics. He is a regular contributor to Discover CRM

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Doug Haines