Best Steps for CRM Deployment

Companies that are having the most success with their CRM implementations are following 10 best practices, which Forrester Research has laid out in a new report.
In researching companies from different industries for "Best Practices for CRM Deployment," William Band, consulting analyst and report author, found that those that adhered to these practices tended to have the most success:

  • Strategy and governance: Build strong executive sponsorship. Require that business executives lead with CRM, with support from IT. Put in the right governance structure.
  • Objectives and processes: Define them first, then apply technology. Follow a realistic pace for rollout.
  • Customer data management: Define data quality requirements and data quality management approaches early.
  • User adoption: Strive for high user involvement. Place a high priority on software usability.
  • Technology: Simplify the CRM platform. Actively manage the vendor relationship.

    Companies can improve sales growth, save on costs, enjoy a high return on investments, and improve their competitive position from CRM projects by following these strategies, according to Band. He examined 22 leading organizations in different industries and found some of the strategies they employed, such as establishing the right governance structure or requiring business executives to lead CRM with support from IT, have been around for years. Others, like user adoption, are starting to gain more recognition as being critical to success of CRM implementations. "The first thing to be mindful of are the people who will be using the technology and what their requirements are," Band says. "New CRM processes and technologies that have a clear benefit for users, but are not properly introduced into the organization will not be adopted. You need to get people involved."

    Band adds that the end-user benefits must remain the center of any CRM process and application enhancements. If it takes too many steps to complete a process, people won't use it, and the CRM project will see less success. He recommends that companies take a balanced approach to the 10 installation success factors, rather than following a few strategies and ignoring others.

    Among the common pitfalls of CRM projects are people challenges and technology glitches, but the former will have the most impact. "It's not that the technology didn't work [in failed implementations]," Band says. "Technical challenges constitute only 20 percent of the effort for successful CRM. Addressing people issues will consume the remaining 80 percent of management attention."

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