CRM, or customer relationship management, is a hot topic for the modern enterprise. Most project managers and executives see the inherent benefits CRM offers. And let’s be honest, what’s there not to like? Through the power of advanced technology, CRM can truly revolutionize the way an enterprise conducts business. From the way it collects information, to the way it processes that information and ultimately to the way that information feeds into an effective sales strategy, CRM is a powerful tool that can catapult any enterprise onto the digital scene. All this and we haven’t even scratched the service of CRM’s organizational benefits, or its ability to reduce costs and improve productivity.
Having said all that, the enterprise market is filled with CRM implementation failures. The internet is ripe with stories of companies that failed to implement CRM effectively. For many of these companies all that remains is a useless system that cost them so much time, effort and money. Why are there so many cases of failure? Why have companies failed to apply the same standards to CRM they apply to their other projects? In the digital age, time is money, and that money is more often than not tied to some underlying goal or project. Most companies today are project-driven. Each project requires careful planning if success is to be realized. So why have companies failed to apply the same planning to CRM? Why have they gone full steam ahead before testing the waters first? Before implementing any CRM solution, stop, reflect and plan before your proceed. In the case of CRM, the best way to plan is to select a prototype and test it before going live.
Testing the waters for CRM can be done any number of ways. One of those ways is through the design audit. After selecting your CRM vendor of choice, whether Microsoft, Infinity, Oracle or Sage, determine what you hope to get out of your CRM. Think about your current IT infrastructure and how it feeds into your overall sales, marketing, management and customer service activities. What does your company need that your current system cannot provide? The answer to this important question will lead you to the audit phase. Whether you choose an express or on-site audit, you want to use your vendor to your advantage and investigate your underlying needs.
With an express design audit, you get the technical requirements needed to get your CRM up and running. Most vendors provide a data import strategy, training plans, security guidelines, timelines and recommended steps. But if you truly want a foolproof CRM implementation, a full on-site design audit and prototype is just what you’re looking for. The on-site design audit usually takes a few days of on-site support and an additional week off-site. Your vendor will take care of all your CRM needs, including the development of a customized prototype. This CRM prototype includes: a customized database, hardware compatibility check, back office integration, data import mapping that preserves your existing data, detailed workflow and measurable reporting for all your processes (sales, marketing, customer service, etc) and a complete implementation plan that will have you up in running in no time.
The design audit provides the thoroughness and peace of mind you need to ensure that your initial investment doesn’t bankrupt you in the future. It means that you can move forward with your CRM system immediately and not worry about wearing hats that don’t fit. Sometimes the best decision a project manager or executive can make is to hire the experts. CRM implementation is not a simple undertaking. Your organization may have the technical capability, sales capacity and organizational structure to implement CRM, but combining all that into one, easy-to-use solution is not as straightforward as it may seem.
A design audit and prototype ensures that your business needs, goals and overall direction fit into the solution you are investing time and money into. By letting the pros assess your existing system, IT infrastructure and data requirements, you avoid biting off more than you can chew.
The first decade of the 21st century can be described as a CRM blunder. Most companies just haven’t gotten it right. But with the right vendor and organizational determination, your design audit can shed insights that can make your CRM aspirations a reality.
CRM begins with a plan. Set it in motion through a design audit. You’ll be glad you did.