Throughout my career in HSM so far, I have had the opportunity to lead Salesforce CRM implementation projects as a Consultant, across the region in companies of various sizes – from a few dozen to hundreds and thousands of employees. And in different industries as well – from manufacturing to media and IT companies. Regardless of the fact that our clients are different, some good practices are the same for everyone. It is these good practices that make the difference between a very successful and a failed project. These good practices are the thing I will be talking about today.
The introduction of complex solutions such as CRM has several steps. When we talk about the introduction of CRM solutions into companies, we mainly think primarily of the technical implementation. This is done by our consultants, administrators and development engineers who tailor Salesforce CRM to the specific needs of a company.
But experience has shown that the preparation of the project itself is just as important as the technical implementation, if not more important. This part is often neglected, so the analysis and preparation of the project is what this text is about.
The first step in any CRM implementation is a set of interviews and workshops we do with the client. The result of these interviews and workshops is that we fully understand their needs – we understand their long-term business development plan and the current difficulties they have, and together with them we define how we will measure the success of the project.
The following inputs are important to us:
◉ 1. The reason for implementing CRM
The introduction of CRM is a much bigger story than the implementation of a solution – it is necessary to view it as a complete transformation that will have an impact on the entire organization, not just one part of the business. It is important to align the goal of introducing CRM with the strategy of the whole company. Good reasons must in some way affect future business results. For example, these are usually – “We want to increase the cross-sell potential of the company” or “We want to increase customer satisfaction with our service.”
◉ 2. The current challenges
As successful as a company is, difficulties in operation are inevitable. These are often challenges that have been present within the company for a long time, but it is obvious that there is room for improvement. Examples of such challenges are often that there are multiple sales teams, some of which talk to the same customers. It often happens that someone is in contact with a client with whom someone from the company has already contacted a few days before, but there is no information about it. Another common example is that customer support agents do not have information about the products that the customer is using or what difficulties they have had before or whether and how they have been resolved.
◉ 3. Measureable goals
A common challenge when planning a CRM project is the lack of adequate measurable data to define failure or success. Implementation needs to be approached with specific and measurable goals that must be articulated before the implementation of a CRM solution can even begin. The measured value should reflect business reasons to consider the CRM such as “Reducing the time required to issue a bid from 3 days to 1 day”, “Increasing the average customer satisfaction rating from 3.4 to 4.0.” or “Increasing the average order through the webshop from 80 to 90 euros”.
If we understand the reason for the introduction of CRM, the problems that currently hinder business and define measurable goals, we are well on our way to the implemented solution bringing real new value to the business.
A good CRM strategy is the result of dedicated work and open conversations between the implementation partner and the client company. In any project, the client-side project team is really just as important as HSM’s implementation team.
The client’s internal project preparation team should consist of people who know the company’s processes and understand the needs of the company and end users, but also people who are focused on the project and the ultimate goal of introducing the system into daily work and familiar with the company’s long-term strategy. It is important that even after the analysis, in addition to current business obligations, they are given an important role during the implementation of CRM solutions.
The key roles are these:
◉ 1. Project Sponsor
If it is a smaller company, it is typically the CEO, and if the company is larger, the Head of the segment covered by the CRM implementation. The role of the project sponsor is to define high-level inputs such as the reason for the introduction of CRM and the company’s goals in the future. It is these goals that will be the basis of the future CRM solution.
◉ 2. Project Manager
The project manager is actually the link between us as the implementation partner and the client company. It is certainly the most time-consuming role on the project, and perhaps the most difficult. It is important that the project manager is a person who understands business processes and ideally, has practical business experience. The role of the project manager is to coordinate everything that is needed on the part of the client in order for the project to be successfully implemented.
◉ 3. Key users
Most often, these are department heads who will be CRM users upon completion of implementation, such as sales, marketing and customer support. It is they who will be the individuals who will be most important to the system ultimately and actively used.
The internal IT department should be supporting customers in the implementation process, ensuring that CRM fits well into the business environment. In this way, everyone involved contributes to making it a truly successful CRM implementation in the end.
What has proved to be a good practice for us is that when preparing the composition for analysis and workshops, we do not follow only a hierarchical structure. Extremely useful to help with future functionalities are precisely those employees who are in daily contact with end customers – for example, salespeople or field service technicians. No one knows better than them about the difficulties they currently have in their daily work.
From a strategic perspective, the implementation of CRM has an impact on the entire organization, regardless of which part of the business we implement the solution. The various functions and departments of the organization need to be integrated and linked to a structure that supports the flow of information within the company.
That’s why it’s important to focus on internal processes and functions that have direct external interaction with customers, such as marketing, sales, and customer support. Inputs about production or development processes that are not directly related to end customers, but are very important for the overall user experience, are also very valuable to us.
By using CRM every day, employees will need to change the way they work and think. It’s never too early to explain to them how CRM will affect their daily work tasks and how much it will ultimately make their job easier.
In this post, it was my idea to introduce you to the benefits of good practice in preparing a CRM project. As in the preparation, there are good practices in the implementation of the solution as well as in the subsequent use of the system. I will tell you about them in one of the later posts.