The benefits of a successfully implemented CRM platform are well-documented but to achieve them, companies must first consider their rollout strategy - and who will be responsible for creating and implementing it.

When implemented correctly, a CRM system can transform a business and how it operates. It has the potential to breakdown interdepartmental silos, align companies ever more closely with their customers, drive brand advocacy and ultimately boost bottom lines. But away from such selling points, there is a very real danger associated with CRM. According to research by the Merkle Group:

63% of CRM solutions actually fail.

Pause for Thought

It's worrying statistic for any MD/CEO considering green lighting a CRM rollout, especially when the typical reasons given for such high failure rates can vary so widely. They include:

  • A failure to schedule and budget correctly for the rollout.
  • A failure to ensure CRM will work alongside a company's existing IT infrastructure.
  • A failure to clean and optimise the company's customer database, which could potentially cripple a CRM solution's performance if bad data is left unchecked.
  • A failure to get buy-in from employees or managers - without buy-in, a CRM platform's chance of success are reduced.

The list of risks can appear daunting but actually all boil down to a single core issue - a badly implemented CRM strategy. But such challenges can be overcome by taking a simple step; any business that is considering CRM needs to ask itself if it has the sufficient in-house experience and expertise to avoid falling foul of CRM implementation's many pitfalls.

A Question of Trust?

In nearly all circumstances an Implementation Partner is involved in a Greenfield project so the question is how much do you trust your partner and how much control are you happy to give away? We are not implying that Partners are not trustworthy but most of us tend to feel better about a scenario when you have a degree of control. If you were building an extension to your house you would be unlikely to arrive at the end of the process - you'd be checking progress daily and this is no different but whereas most of us understands the rudiments of how a house works we don't always know the intricacies of an implementation.

Control comes from having a good understanding of how an implementation works and the CRM product you have selected in the first place.

Your first option is to make sure your own IT department (or IT individual) can take the strain on top of their ongoing commitments. Also consider if they have the relevant experience and knowledge to ensure a smooth implementation whether it be a full understanding of CRM functionality and its testing/reviewing procedures or the intricacies of effective data migration. If IT believes it does have the necessary skill set - and critically, has the track record to prove it - then you're in an ideal position to move forward.

If you don't have the personnel in house (or can't spare them) then the use of a freelance consultant/developer during an implementation can add some real value:

Their experience will bring a raft of benefits to the process from designing, development, implementing and optimising the CRM platform through to training employees on its correct usage and offering full support during and critically after the implementation process is complete (if you should choose to extend their contract).

A Question of Cost

The cost of such a hire is, of course, a critical issue - that extra pair of hands won't come cheaply, but such a financial commitment should be viewed not only as a safeguard against the threat of potential CRM failure but as an opportunity to ensure your CRM platform is the right fit for you and your company's needs, and to help guarantee a return on your investment.

Ultimately, ask yourself if you are happy for someone else to run the Implementation for you or would you prefer to hand over the rollout to an experienced specialist who works for you , not the partner, leaving you to focus on what you do best - running your business.

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