• Technology

What do you need to know before a CRM implementation?

Scott Snowden
Scott Snowden
Business & Technology Strategy
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At Flywheel we help implement, support, customize and integrate with many CRM platforms including Salesforce, Dynamics, HubSpot and others. These are great systems for giving the business better clarity, process, and purpose. A well implemented CRM can help avoid manual errors, track progress, and add efficiencies in numerous ways. On the other hand, a poorly implemented system causes pain, frustration and can quickly be neglected – leaving the value of your investment unrealized.

Make sure you’re ready for your CRM project with some of the considerations we outline below. The theme here is workflow and process readiness.

It’s all about change management

You’re going to have a shiny new system! Fun! The mistake is to expect that the entire business is ready (and equally excited) for that new thing. Or, the more likely mistake is to neglect how easy it will be for the business to adapt to the new system. You’ve heard the phrase – that change doesn’t come easy. Yet, time and time again we’ve seen struggles come from introducing a CRM too quickly and too broadly – without proper support. Your project needs to be more than the system setup. Don’t forget to prepare for business change.

Process first, then the tool

A CRM implementation often happens to help streamline the way the business works. There can also be gaps to close with how data is organized, consolidated, shared, and reported on. A CRM can alleviate those pains. However, you will run into trouble if you use your CRM project as the moment to establish new processes and workflows. Yes, process building, and optimization need to be part of the whole engagement, but make sure you consider what you want your process to be first. Then, build the CRM to support that. Changes to process and new workflows should be mapped out and communicated in advance. Users will struggle with a CRM that imposes a process they haven’t followed before and that is the wrong time to realize adjustments need to be made.

Make it digestible for the business

Adopting change is easier when it is incremental. On several occasions we have been asked to support a “failed” CRM implementation. Did the project fail because it was the wrong CMS? No. Did it fail because it wasn’t setup the right way? Possibly. But most likely it failed because it was too much, too fast. In our experience, the best approach is to introduce a new system one step at a time. Get users comfortable with core concepts before you introduce advanced workflows.

You cannot force staff adoption

“Well, we’ll just tell people they have to use it.” And as cliché as it sounds to read those words, we’re amazed how often we hear that come up as part of an implementation protocol. Sure, there’s a process to follow, but those processes need to be built to support the people within them. If the executive team needs consolidated data to run the business, that’s fine. Start by understanding how the people responsible for the data can benefit from using the system. Make as many accommodations as you possibly can to allow users to work with purpose. This approach may mean providing unique functionality that wouldn’t have value in isolation.

Integration is not (necessarily) the answer

There are apps for everything. Plugins galore. Low-code is here to save the world! So, then why can’t I just use the QuickBooks connector (or whatever it is in your case)? Well, maybe you can, but most likely the reality is that the connector isn’t going to give you what you think it will and these connectors may not play nicely with each other. Each integration adds complexity to the system, and it increases the quantity of data. The challenge we have seen is that you end up with a mountain of data without a good, clean way manage the relationships between those records. The vision is to have all your data in one place, but make sure when that happens you can make sense of it all.

Iterate and refine

In all the points we’ve outlined so far, there has been a general theme of needing to manage the change that is coming. Incremental adjustments are part of the solution – in digestible steps as we said above. The point we’re making here is to ensure you listen and incorporate feedback as you go. The system and the solution itself need to be flexible. You need to be ready to refine your plan as you go. “Real-world” situations are just that – real. Take that learning as an opportunity to optimize your system.

Let us know what success means you to and if you think these tips make sense, we’re going to get along quite nicely. The CRM solution itself is just one part of your success. Be ready for change, formalize your process first, introduce the new system gradually, accommodate people as much as you can, be careful about relying on too much integration and be ready to accept feedback.


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