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You wouldn’t rock climb without the proper equipment, so why would you implement a CRM system without the right tools and methodologies?

Instead of solely focusing on cost containment and risk management, organizations today are looking for ways to increase top-line revenue growth. This has led many organizations to pursue customer relationship management (CRM) implementations – either as standalone projects or as part of larger digital transformation initiatives. While CRM software can be flexible and robust, there are many critical success factors to consider.

CRM implementations entail the same level of transformation, organizational change, operational complexity, business risk and technical risk as traditional ERP implementations. There are several factors that can increase your level of risk, including integration with existing systems, data cleansing and migration, system stability, demand on hardware and networks, system compatibility and deployment options.

Risk Mitigation

CRM projects often exceed timeframe and budget expectations. Even worse, they fail to deliver many of the expected benefits. Mitigating risk will help your organization avoid additional costs, timeframe overruns and operational disruption. Here is some advice for mitigating risk in your CRM implementation:

  • Don’t overlook organizational change management. Most CRM implementation challenges are related to process and organizational change management issues. Your organization should ensure the involvement of key sales reps and team members. They should be committed to project goals and should clearly understand new business processes.
  • Conduct business process reengineering prior to selection and implementation. Before purchasing a CRM system, you should define your organizational goals, your current and future state business processes, and finally, your business requirements. This will ensure that your business needs are driving software functionality rather than the other way around.
  • Don’t limit long-term options and effectiveness. Your CRM selection and implementation should be part of a comprehensive enterprise systems strategy. Your organization should consider how your CRM system will integrate with back-office ERP systems now and in the future. While sales automation may be at the top of your mind, it is equally important to determine how that system and related processes will interact with inventory management, financials, product configuration, manufacturing and other functional areas.

CRM Isn’t Simple

CRM software has been around for quite some time, which has allowed it to become flexible and develop robust functionality. Consequently, a CRM implementation can entail significant changes to your sales operations and organization. Defining new business processes for sales reps can be especially challenging, and implementing technology focused on one particular functional area can be especially risky. With so many challenges to overcome, it’s important that organizations follow ERP implementation best practices throughout their CRM transformation.

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