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Due to constantly growing customer expectations and global competition, the pressure is on for manufacturers and distributors to enhance customer relationships. That’s why many enterprises are turning to customer relationship management (CRM) software to refine their sales and marketing strategies, support their management team, and improve their customer service initiatives.
CRM software includes features designed to manage front-end operations and data, including customer data, sales automation, lead tracking, and customer support. Regardless of the size of your business, CRM solutions can effectively maintain the integrity of your business’s customer data and optimize buyers’ journeys.
However, once you have decided to implement CRM software, what’s next? Establishing a realistic timeline is one of the most difficult parts of an implementation project. Because no two businesses are the same, there is no magic template or formula that will create the perfect result; each project has a different team, availability, and scope.
While there is no set formula to create the perfect CRM timeline, we have compiled six steps that will give you a helpful place to start in creating your project plan!
Once you have selected a CRM vendor, the first step of your implementation project begins. You will want to first establish a project team as well as a responsible project manager (team leader). Your team should be composed of functional experts who will help the implementation align with your business process and goals, and your project manager should ensure daily activities are carried out and the project is staying within the parameters of the timeline and budget. Plus, your vendor should define their role based on how much support your team will need.
In this step, your team will determine the objectives and deliverables of your implementation project. By identifying the initial business process, timeline, and scope, you should be able to develop a strategy that achieves your goals.
All successful implementations can be tied to a robust plan and strategy. Your strategy should consist of the goals your team wishes to accomplish, the pain points your team wants to streamline through the software, and the tasks necessary to achieve these goals.
Further, you can use this stage of the project to define each team members’ roles and responsibilities–this should tie back to the objectives you set up to achieve during preparation. We also suggest undergoing business process modeling in this phase.
Finally, your strategy should include a mapped-out comprehensive budget and timeline for the rest of the project. In short, the strategy stage is when your team gets into the nitty-gritty of the project planning.
3. Assess the Risks
A software implementation is disruptive–the best and most rewarding changes always are! That being said, assessing the risk factors allow your team to be prepared and to mitigate as many project complications as possible. While it’s unlikely your team will be able to assess every possible risk, you should definitely be able to assess the potential big issues, such as an overstretched budget, pushed back timeline, learning curve, etc.
4. Begin Rolling Out CRM
The scariest part of your project will likely be the roll-out. The beginning of your CRM roll-out should include:
- Data Migration– By reviewing your existing data and processes, determining what data needs to be migrated, cleaning the data, and converting the data, your team will be able to move your data from your existing system to your new CRM software.
- End-User Training– The only way to ensure seamless user adoption is through proper training. By advocating for the new system, involving the staff in the project, building a training hierarchy, and continuing training after the go-live date, you can adequately prepare your staff to use all the functions of the new software.
- System Testing– By testing your CRM software, you will ensure the technical components of your system are working properly, resolve bugs before you’re live, and keep your project on track.
5. Go Live
Everything you and your team have been working towards during this project comes to fruition during this stage. Your system is fully configured. Take time to celebrate your hard work!
However, this is only the beginning of your software. Your system should keep improving your business well after the go-live date. As taxing as it might seem, upgrading your software when it’s necessary is crucial to avoid errors and missed opportunities.
Moreover, we recommend tracking KPIs so you can keep track of your CRM software’s successes and stay on top of performance lapses. That way, you can pursue additional solutions when it’s appropriate.
CRM implementation is taxing and requires many resources. Mistakes and costly project errors can mean money lost.
If you and your team are overwhelmed by your prospective CRM implementation project, Datix can help! We will help you achieve the most ROI for your implementation and will be sure your implementation is achieved on-time and on-budget. Our consultants learn your business process and will be there for you from start to finish, and beyond.
Ready to get started? Contact one of our expert consultants today!