How to Ensure That You Select The Best CRM System and Partner

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There are many factors to take into account when considering implementing CRM, and these differ significantly from business to business, so unfortunately there is no set of instructions as all businesses have different requirements. For people who are not IT experts, well versed in CRM implementation/deployment, JavaScript, C# and a number of other ‘techy’ things, the number of factors that need to be considered can seem very daunting. However, help is at hand! This article does not claim to be a set of instructions, it is a template that if followed correctly will enable you to create your own set of instructions based on your own specific business requirements and objectives. This will ensure that you get the system you need to meet your requirements, that implementation is quick and pain free and that you can start making a rapid return on investment.

Choosing the right CRM System

Before deciding on the most suitable partner it is necessary to select the system that can meet your (yet to be established) business requirements most effectively, using the following steps.

Know your requirements – This is one of the most important parts of the whole process and should start with an internal reflection of why a solution is needed. Once this has been established it will be possible to isolate the areas that are causing the need for the solution.

Internal CRM Team – It is necessary to pull together a team that would usually consist of; a high level member of staff with the resources available to them to make things happen, an IT expert and a project manager. It will also be necessary to get input from the departments that the CRM initiative aims to improve, and a selection of end users to highlight specific pain points and areas for productivity enhancements.

Budget – Some organisations have to accept that they are constrained by the current level of resources available to them, others don’t. There will be a CRM system and partner for both ends of the financial spectrum.

Integration – Consider the level of integration required between the new CRM system and the existing systems that are currently being used by your organisation. Choose a system that will cause the least issues to the day to day running of your business.

Support Requirements – Most organisations will struggle to cope without some level of support. The level of support required will largely depend on the degree of internal expertise.

Vertical Requirements – Many industries require extremely specialised customer data or has a requirement that is extremely specific. This must also be taken into account when selecting a system.

Feature requirements – Once the organisation has gone through the following steps, they will collaborate with their chosen partner on the specific Feature requirements of their system and how they will help them achieve their objectives

Choosing the right Partner

Partner selection can make or break a CRM project. You have gone through the painstaking process of choosing the right system and defining your requirements, however this is only half the battle. Partner selection requires the same diligence in selection. The following steps detail the process a company should go through before selecting a partner.

Partner Competency – There are different levels of partner competency, which illustrates expertise in specific areas of CRM. Ensure that the competencies of the partner you select align with your specific business requirements.

Processes – it is imperative that the partner has a tried and tested process for implementation and deployment. If this is not in place, there will be issues with requirements gathering, communication and overall ambiguity with regard to what CRM can actually do for the business

Industry Experience – Requirements vary depending on industry, so it is always a good idea to choose a partner with a good cross section of industry specific experience, in order to facilitate rapid implementation.

Service Offering – CRM partners usually have a number of optional services. It is important to make sure that their service offering fits in with your requirements.

Client Focused – In this day and age, it is imperative to be as consumer centric as possible and this is no different for partners. You must select a partner that has the capacity to drill down to get an intimate knowledge of how your business works before they will be effectively be able to meet your requirements.

Involvement and Participation – A good partner should always be willing to actively suggest ways that they can improve their offering, by suggesting ways to increase workforce productivity, user adoption and enhance the overall user experience.

Communication – It is extremely important to ensure that the foundations are there for constant and effective communication, as this is the only way to fuse the company requirements with the expertise of the partner.

Conclusion

The key to a smooth CRM implementation and productive and profitable CRM journey, is to accurately define your business requirements through internally searching and isolating the specific issues that a responsible for your current business pains. This enables you to see your specific business requirements and come up with a set of realistic and achievable objectives. At this stage the CRM system that most readily meets those requirements should be selected, once a decision has been made on the system, the partner that offers the right balance of processes, industry experience, service, involvement and communication should be selected ensuring that their competencies align with your requirements. If these steps are followed, CRM implementation will be a pain free experience, and you may learn a thing or two about your business along the way.

For more information about the CRM specification process download: Step by Step Guide to getting CRM Right: Step 1