Be clear about your aims
It sounds obvious but if you’re not clear from the start about the business
objectives of your project, you may struggle to get your project off the
ground. Ideally you’ll be able to show a direct link between your project
aims and your business plan. A clear link to your business plan will also
help you explain the value to your colleagues. Write down your business aims
and objectives for the project before anything else.
Think of the future
As you define your aims and objectives think into the future, what
will your organisation need to be like in a year or two's time? Try to
take this opportunity to improve your business processes. Very many
systems just make existing processes more efficient, this is usually
relatively easy but may not move your organisation on very far.
When compared to your competitors, think about how your CRM might provide
the opportunity to change your organisation to be more effective or more
Keep it simple at the start
You may have grand visions for your CRM system, but the more you try to
achieve on day one, the harder it gets and the longer your implementation
project will become. Focus on the a core of ‘must have’ improvements that
are a part of the bigger picture and get these working first. Consider
starting your project in one department or with one team. It’s much easier
to build on early success than to try to do it all at once.
To make your CRM project a success you’ll need to gain commitment at both
ends of your organisation:
At the top because you need it to be clear that this is an
important project and that you’ll have a senior management support for
the changes that will follow in the way your organisation works. In my
view, Successful CRM is 80% good management and 20% good technology. The
technology is the enabler that makes possible new ways of working.
All the way to the bottom, because these are the staff whose jobs
will be changed by the system, the sooner you can involve them in your
project (even if its just the occasional briefing) the better the buy in
you will have. When all of the technologies are installed, it’s the users
of the system and their enthusiasm that will help ensure the success of
Remember CRM is about Customers
Its very easy in the initial phases to spend most of the time looking
inward at your organisation and the areas of your business you want to
change. Don't forget to look at your project from the point of view of
your customers. What might they want you to achieve with the project?
Perhaps consider asking some of them for their views on how the would like
to see you change and improve the way they are dealt with.
Consider the Operational Period form the Start
Once your CRM application is in use, you’ll need to find people to undertake
new jobs that perhaps you’ve not considered or previously needed. For
example, who’ll be the guardian of your data quality? This will be an
important but potentially time consuming job that will help ensure you
always have complete confidence in the data in your system. The
important point here is that there are on-going commitments that you will
have in the future in order to run the CRM successfully - failing to think
about this from the start will either lead to poor maintenance or surprises
for a few staff later on when they find they have unplanned work to fit in.
Prepare to Review
Many of the benefits of CRM applications can be very intangible and can be
hard to measure; you will know working in your organisation, that things are
more efficient and working better but the improvements may be hard to
quantify. If you want to be able to demonstrate the difference your CRM
project has made in a tangible way, then before you start is the time to
measure and record what it used to be like. The criteria you use will be
entirely down to you, the way your business works and the things that you
hope to improve.
Understand that CRM is about Management
Customer Relationship Management is just as its name suggests, an exercise in
management, it is not something like painting or drawing where the activity
reaches a natural conclusion and change stops. It is therefore
something that is an ongoing and live process in your business.
You’re investigating CRM now because you have a need to improve aspects of the
way you manage your companies interaction with your customers. However,
have competitors and because your business changes from day to day and year
to year, the way your CRM system supports your business should be viewed as
something that will need to change and develop over time too. Used
strategically your CRM system has the potential to help your business
achieve competitive advantage in your marketplace. To maintain this
advantage you will need to keep the way the system supports your business a
consideration in your longer term business plans.
To get the best from
your CRM plan to make the way you use the system one of continuous
improvement, avoiding as far as possible fits and starts of change as you
react to new business pressures or changes in technology that require you to revisit
the way you work.
Read the Next part of
this series Implementation
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