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Part 1 - How to Prepare for a CRM Implementation

Nov 19, 2015

So you’ve chosen a new customer relationship management (CRM) software platform for your brokerage. Congrats! Now comes the fun part: getting everything set up and running.

What takes place beforehand will largely determine the success of your implementation. Proper planning can help you get the most out of the new software—and fast.

Here are a few things to consider as you plan for implementation.

People

Choose one person to own the implementation.
Start by designating someone from your team to work closely with your CRM vendor throughout the duration of this process. They will serve as the direct communication channel between your company and your technology provider.

Specifically, ownership of the project involves testing the system, providing recommendations on ways to make the CRM platform more efficient and user-friendly, and customizing the software to match your team’s business processes.  

Designate a system administrator to own post-implementation.
Typically, the person working closely with the CRM vendor during implementation will also be your system administrator. The system administrator will be responsible for maintaining all aspects of the system when the implementation is completed.

A successful system administrator should be tech savvy, influential in the company and have the resources needed to complete the implementation--specifically time! Your system administrator will maintain users, perform configuration, run reports and answer questions from users after the implementation has been completed.

Bring in a few select users to offer feedback.
Various stakeholders and “power users” should also be a part of the implementation. This can include executives (who chose to buy the software), their admins (who will help them use it) and brokers or other employees who are particularly comfortable with new technology.

Bringing these select few into the process early on lets them provide feedback before the system rolls out to the entire organization—hopefully preempting potential complaints or issues. From our experience working with brokerages, we recommend this power team consist of three to six people depending on the size of your organization.

Avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen.
Each user has a role in implementation, but those who are not asked to offer feedback early on in the process should not be involved until the product is ready to rollout. If there are too many voices, it can be difficult to prioritize your goals and make decisions.

Expectations

Be specific in outlining what you want the new platform to deliver.
What do you hope to gain from your new platform, and what current challenges do you want resolved? Are you annoying prospects because three brokers reached out separately in one week? Having trouble prioritizing who to contact? Faltering on strategy because you have no visibility into your pipeline?

Clearly define what you want the software to help you accomplish, and set measurable goals that you can track against once you’ve implemented—like “reduce average deal close time by 10%” or “improve prospect-to-client conversion rate by 25%.” This will help you keep strategic objectives in focus and quantify the impact of your investment.

Defining goals will let you measure the success of your implementation, and will help your CRM vendor understand your needs from the get-go. They can pay extra attention to certain functionalities to ensure you grasp the possibilities, and can potentially customize some features to your needs.

Set expectations for the communication plan.
Before the implementation begins, have the point person set expectations with your CRM provider. How often should you communicate? Daily? Weekly? What is the preferred method of contact? Email, phone, video chat? Getting this out on the table early in the process will prevent frustration and miscommunication later.

Figure out a realistic timeline.
If you’ve ever implemented new technology before, you know things don’t always go as planned. Moving from one custom database to another isn’t as simple as pushing a button.

Set a timeline, but make sure it’s realistic. Add some cushion time in from the beginning (it’s better to overplan than to miss deadlines). Work with your provider’s implementation team for guidance on this one. It’s crucial for both groups to be on the same page.

Once you have a team and expectations in place, you’re ready to dig into the process. We’ll get to that in part two of this series, so subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a post.

Topics: Best Practices

Lauren Hinson

Written by Lauren Hinson

Lauren is an Implementation Project Manager at Apto. She helps onboard new users and works with data on a daily basis. She knows all the tricks of the trade to get your org customized and ready to go. Lauren graduated from Texas A&M University and has a degree in Management with a focus on Entrepreneurial Leadership.

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