Deploying an enterprise-wide Customer Relationship
Management system is an ambitious undertaking. See the
Customer Relationship Management Overview
for the big picture. It requires a commitment to a customer-centric vision by all departments.
Attempting such a substantial scheme can cause culture shock as well as sticker shock. Marketing
and business divisions are often not patient with the time required for massive IT
rollouts. For a successful implementation, the project management choices are as important as
the software decisions.
Scope out the extended project and its expectations carefully. Then start at the
top - make sure you have Board level commitment. Next, create a project team with
representatives from each department. This will aid in getting the collaborative atmosphere
going. The various representatives can bring to the table some foresight on the types of
reporting their group is likely to request.
The team should plan for smaller elements of the plan that can be implemented in
palatable stages. The committee will then work with an implementation team either
internally or from a CRM
software provider. These short-term successes shown by the smaller projects will
help create buy-in across the enterprise, paving the way for the larger roll-out.
Schedule extra time. These projects by default require analysis of current work
processes and the data sources that will be migrated into the CRM system. Also,
plan time to train employees and set up
help desk resources for
each change in work process. Whether you focus your initial projects by location,
department or otherwise, be sure to announce milestones and celebrate whenever shared
information benefits business.
Find Your Focus
Always remember that the customer is first. Work toward
Find out what your existing, profitable customers want, so that you meet their needs, but
also so you don't overshoot the mark and spend more than is necessary.
Once you find the most pressing business needs for the customer, begin to find your
focus -- whether in customer
service, marketing campaign
management, sales order
management, call center
sales, IVR systems,
or field force
automation. This focus can be the basis for each of your short-term projects across the
enterprise, so that no project exists in isolation.
Mind the Details
It's hard to predict the types of reporting that will be requested enterprise-wide
in the future, so a great deal of detail will need to be maintained over time.
The best architecture for your CRM base would involve a
single data warehouse
of customer information. Various data
marts, or views of the data could be created from this database. See
the CRM Overview for more detail.
Choose the Right Vendor
CRM Software exists for vastly different functionalities. Don't lose sight of your
determined CRM focus. It must be the focus of your CRM software as well. Ask the
vendors how they will meet your specific, step-by-step procedural needs. How will the
software solution integrate with legacy applications in your enterprise? How much access will
you have to integration experts from the vendor? What other similar companies to yours
has the vendor worked with? Can the vendor guarantee installation by your timetable?
Rinse and Repeat
Always remember that Customer Relationship Management is a process itself.
Evaluate your strategy and processes on an ongoing basis to meet the changing needs of
For more information on choosing the right CRM solution for your company,
read our Customer Relationship Management Overview.
Go to Bitpipe Research Guide: Customer Relationship Management.