Smart Implementation of CRM

John Eccles, 14 November 2010

You’ve done some research and you realise that you need a state of the art CRM system to keep your business cutting edge in terms of productivity and customer service.  You know that application of CRM can bring improvements to many aspects of the business, but you don’t have unlimited capital and you don’t have a good feel for what the implementation costs might be.  Also you have heard disturbing accounts of software development projects that have gone horribly wrong – money spent on software that never performed and was abandoned.  So you know there is some risk involved.

Smart Implementation of CRM*

The following approach to a CRM project is intended to both minimise your risk and maximise your ROI (Return on Investment).  It is the approach now used by Magnetism Solutions Ltd when engaging with new clients.

We recommend the following process:

1. Exploratory meeting of your key staff with a CRM consultant
2. Preparation of a High Level Fit-Gap Analysis by the CRM Consultant
3. Scoping workshop involving CRM consultant and your decision-makers
4. Agreement on a staged implementation of CRM

Exploratory meeting

This meeting is the time to explore what problems or improvements can be addressed via a CRM (or XRM) solution. Your key staff members are there to present the problems and opportunities for improvement and the CRM consultant is there to advise what is possible with the latest CRM software plus customisations and integration with other software.  The aim of the meeting will be to develop a list of one or more systems together with desirable functions and capabilities of each system.

High level Fit-Gap Analysis

The consultant should prepare the Fit-Gap Analysis which is presented as a spreadsheet  showing the system functions/capabilities for each system desired together with a measure of relative importance, the category of the development required and a ballpark estimate of the time required for the development. 

Development of a particular function will be one of the following;

a) Standard feature of the CRM software without any configuration or setup. Many functions you require for sales, marketing and customer service will be standard.

b) Configuration of the system is required.  Some set-up is required before a feature can be used.  For example, reports and dashboards need to be configured to your company’s requirements. 

c)  Workflows likewise need to be set-up to automate your particular process.

d) Customisation is required because the function cannot be met by standard functionality.  An example is interfacing with other software such as an accounting package.

Categories a) b) and c) represent a “Fit” of the CRM software to the system you desire, while d) represents a “Gap” that needs to be filled via a customisation.

Scoping Workshop

Now some decisions need to be made!  The wish-list of systems and functions and capabilities of the systems must be weighed against the costs.

It is almost certain that you cannot afford everything on the wish-list.  This is why I called it a wish-list.  Most of us can’t afford the house we wish for either.

The Fit-Gap spread sheet provides a convenient means of working through the systems, functions and capabilities and evaluating them via your normal business cost-benefit rules.  For each function and capability of each system a ball-park time will be stated.  Your team needs to make some ball-park estimates of the savings or benefits of each function and capability in financial terms. 

It may work like this:  For a system, there will be some functions and capabilities which are “must haves”.  The system will be of no benefit without these.  When these ‘must-haves” are identified, some quick sums will provide an approximate cost for the most basic system.  If the cost is “out of the ballpark” then that system is out of contention.  Otherwise, the other functions and capabilities would be examined one by one and the extra value compared with the extra cost.  The aim is a system you can afford that meets your cost-benefit requirements.

Staged Implementation

Staged implementation is a means of reducing your risk.  It allows you to try out the software development company on stage 1 rather than the complete project.  It allows you to phase in the new system gradually, perhaps with a department of group of staff that are more amenable to change.  It minimises the risk of failure of a new system – both because a simpler system is less likely to fail and if it does fail, the cost of failure is lower.

A staged approach provides assurance that you are on the right track (i.e. the system works, is accepted by staff and is saving/making you money) before committing to future stages.

If it is feasible to just install CRM software out-of-the-box and get a group of your staff trained to use it well, then this would be the ideal stage 1.  The configurations and customisations can come later as future stages.

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