Seven Critical Steps To A Successful CRM Solution

By Geoffrey James

Although selecting the right CRM product is important, it is only one piece of the implementation cycle, according to Peter M. Dascalos, associate director of CRM for SEI Information Technology, a full-service CRM integrator headquartered in Irvine, CA. Dascalos recommends that companies view CRM as a seven-stage process. Below he summarizes each of the stages.

Step 1 – Devise a business strategy. The success or failure of a CRM solution depends on how clearly goals are defined. Vital questions include:

Why are you implementing this?
What is not working well in the current system or process?
What are the most critical phases in the process?
What are the specific tasks you want to automate?
Where will the system save time and effort on repetitious tasks or duplicated work?
What areas of pain will be healed by this implementation?
What areas of existing customer relations will be incorporated into the CRM strategy?

Step 2 – Perform an evaluation. Ask each group that plans to use the system to provide an outline of its current business or sales processes. Observe high performers, analyze their day-to-day operations and report on the steps they use to achieve success. Evaluate the data sources and collateral material used in existing processes to determine the data’s integrity and value.

Step 3 – Determine process enhancements. Consider the type of information that will be tracked and reported to determine what data will need to be captured from the sales rep’s day-to-day activities. Consider what type of automation will benefit users. Consider whether support and service automation should be included and how support and service should align with sales and marketing efforts.

Step 4 – Define your business requirements and select a vendor. Once you’ve gathered the information needed to create your business requirements, the next step is to define the solution, plan the implementation and test and track system completion. The choice of a CRM vendor product is dependent on your business requirements.

Step 5 – Determine infrastructure requirements. Decide how the CRM system will be provided. Maintaining the system in-house gives you local access to the application but requires investments in hardware, software and personnel. The hosted CRM model eliminates these requirements.

Step 6 – Implement the system. Schedule the installation, configuration and customization of the CRM vendor product suite to meet your business requirements. Once the system is installed and configured, put it through a quality assurance testing process to verify that the system meets your acceptance criteria.

Step 7 – Provide customized training. Give individuals who will use the system customized training on how the system can benefit them in their day-to-day operations.