10 Key factors for successful CRM project implementation

Paul Smitherman |

In the business world, almost everyone has heard of CRM. But according to INSEE, in 2014 38% of companies with more than 500 employees were not equipped for CRM. Although this figure is considerably out of date, we do still need to ask the question – how do the remaining 62% optimise their clients effectively?

Without a CRM system many companies would lose invaluable knowledge about their customers and what information they had might not be secure.

Capitalising on customer data is a ‘goldmine’ for your organisation and its future. Whether it’s to improve the sales process, optimise the quality of customer service, retain customers, increase the traceability of the exchanges or drive your customer service, there are many reasons why this data is invaluable. Even organisations already equipped with CRM need to keep it up to date and evolve towards newer solutions. So how do you achieve this once you have decided to drive your CRM project forward, and do you have the means to succeed?

But do you have what it takes to make this project a success?

You can dream big, but don’t necessarily have the ability to invest at this time. In this case, start small with the right foundations to support your growth. In the same context, it is no longer about CRM but about a Customer Experience solution. Historically CRM focused just within the commercial function, and has become enriched as the years have progressed. Now the solution Covers the historical scope of CRM but also includes commerce, marketing, customer service, sales, identity and consent management, development platforms, mobility, interfaces with ERP as well as other solutions...

The solutions have now become more significantly enriched, with a standardised, ergonomic user experience. With such a rich, wide reaching solution, it is imperative that your company’s strategy is aligned. Let's start small but have a clear vision for the future. In particular:

  1. Don’t neglect your human resources

CRM is not just an IT system, it’s a customer experience solution that covers a whole spectrum of areas, such as sales and marketing, customer service, identity and consent management, mobility, as well as interfacing with your ERP and other solutions.

It’s important that your CRM aligns with your organisation’s development strategy. From the outset you need to include key personnel from finance, representatives from a technical and functional resources, end user ambassadors, together with a project manager. Enrol these key players in workshops to collaborate on the definition of the processes, layout of content on the screen, carry out testing and so on. Together you can reach decisions and scope out the time needed to ensure a successful implementation

  1. Define your business strategy and project parameters

Defining your strategy and the parameters before you start your project may seem obvious but the setting of goals and priorities will enable you to highlight any constraints and considerations within the business. The solution needs to be adaptable and future-proofed as much as possible to gain efficiencies and quality in the processing of your customer data.

  1. Frame the project

Once the project is launched, deliverables must be defined in consultation with different teams within the business to ensure they fit into to the overall business objectives. For this you will need to carry out workshops and do several iterations to iron out any discrepancies.

  1. Prepare the upstream elements

You will need to bring together all the elements for a successful implementation. This includes source files, users, teams, access to old solutions or screenshots, as well as all the other information needed to structure the new solution.

Much of the existing ways of working will be changed, deleted or adapted. In these workshops, legacy or inherited ways of working that are no longer relevant can be ironed out. At the same time, new methods based on best practices can be discussed and scoped out, for example how to ensure sales people to complete all necessary data fields. The key aspect is to keep the screens as simple as possible. This in turn will enable useable management reports to be produced.

  1. Qualify your data sources 

The right data can provide a 360-degree view of your customers, but it’s important to assess the quality of your data for a CRM and this is dependant on the source of the data. Remember that the technology itself cannot guarantee the relevance of your data, it is the internal resources of your company that determine whether the data is correct or not. 

Data recovery, synchronisation and integration are separate projects that will require specific resources.

  1. What about data entry? 

Data entry allows you to update and complete the information on customer records, but manually entering data leaves room for human error and can limit the quality. Keep manual data entry to a minimum and only for actions that cannot be automated using technology.

  1. Importing your existing data

In the initial phase of implementation, you will probably need to migrate existing data. This can be a time-consuming manual task and often requires data to be re-formatted to match new templates. There needs to be as little human input into the data entry here as possible to avoid errors.

  1. Plan for synchronisation 

It is possible to import data automatically and transform it into defined values but this does not have the power of integration. A maintenance schedule needs to be planned for synchronisation to avoid human error where possible.

  1. Integration

This is where the system connects directly to the data source and reformats it when transferring to the CRM. It is possible to have a two-way data exchange with real-time updates. Integration requires more time than other solutions for implementation, but it can be customised and adapted to the specifics of each company, but uniformity of data should be maintained.

  1. Post-project phase 

Do not neglect this phase as you will need to put in measures to control and monitor the use of the solution. A drop in usage will need investigating and fixing. The system is going to evolve and will need regularly appraisal.

You will also need to consider how you handle the change management, support and maintenance of your CRM going forward, and often the most effective method is to have a post-product support contract with a provider.

Take homes

The key to the success of your CRM project lies in the preparation and careful planning of all the points covered here, including financial and human resources, project strategy and parameters, data sources and the post-project phase. 

By addressing these factors and asking the right questions at each stage of the project the team can ensure a successful and durable solution, and an ultimate customer experience

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