Stay Involved in Your CRM Project

John Eccles, 29 October 2015

“To get a CRM system customised for my organisation, I need to find a competent CRM software development vendor, brief them on our requirements and leave it to them.  After all, they are the experts.” Right?

Wrong!!  With that approach, you have a high chance of spending a lot of money on a system that fails to deliver value.


You might adopt the “leave it to the experts” approach with an office building – because offices are fairly standard.  But you wouldn’t dream of it in the case of a factory to make a unique product - because the production systems are integral to your competitive advantage.

A custom CRM system for your organisation has the potential to make your processes more powerful and more efficient.  It has the potential to provide competitive advantage.  So it deserves ongoing input from management.  It is not something that should be delegated and left to a software vendor.  Getting a CRM system working well is what good CRM project teams do - but it’s really difficult for any team to deliver great results without customer involvement.

Why be involved

  1. Your people know the organisation and its processes best and your people will be the ones who will have to use the system.  You need to stay involved to ensure the system that is developed matches what your organisation really needs - and that it is easy to use.
  2. Needs of the business shift. What was needed at the beginning of a project might not be needed later on. Your people need to communicate as early as possible if something isn’t working or if the goalposts need to be moved.
  3. Involvement of your team in the software development process helps them have realistic expectations and understand both the value of the system and the changes required to implement the new system. 
  4. It is generally not cost-effective for the vendor project team to be exclusively responsible for all project tasks and deliverables. Customers should take responsibility when appropriate.
  5. Early validation of assumptions and system components can minimise wasted effort and associated cost.
  6. An involved customer organisation becomes a learning organisation, which enables the customer to drive the change required to implement the new CRM system.
  7. Closer customer engagement with the process reduces the overall risk.

How to be involved

  1. Form a joint project team at the start of the project and begin with a kick-off meeting to get everyone introduced and on the same page.  Include a project owner/sponsor, an internal project manager/contact person and an internal technical person.
  2. The joint project team should meet throughout the project and at the project conclusion to review the project.
  3. The project team should have authority to co-opt input and involvement from key system users as required.
  4. Throughout the project, customer stakeholders should be involved at every stage:
  • developing the vision and the concept
  • making key people available for consultation
  • reviewing and validating information – from the project success factors, the requirements, the design and the test criteria
  • reviewing deliverables and providing feedback
  • user acceptance testing and reporting of issues
  • attending demonstrations
  • attending training and actively learning to use the system
  • providing feedback on the overall project delivery